What’s the definition of a good manager?
A good manager usually excels in two distinct areas — leadership and expertise. They must be able to lead effectively while still performing substantive tasks related to their department.
- Leadership: Managers must be excellent leaders. They should know how to build positive relationships with their staff and offer guidance.
- Expertise: Managers must have extensive knowledge about their work area. Understanding the task their employees perform is vital for effective management.
Qualities of a good manager
Good managers often have varied personalities and approaches to their jobs. However, they often share a number of characteristics that make them particularly well-suited for their positions:
Good managers are excellent communicators. They can clearly and accurately share information with their team, but just as importantly, they can listen to their employees. Listening is as important a skill as talking for effective communication.
Managers should have knowledge about their role, and about the work their team and company perform. Depending on the size of the department they manage and the company’s industry, one type of knowledge may be more important than the other, but the best managers are both leadership and subject matter experts.
Organization is a vital skill for a manager. When overseeing a number of employees and projects, knowing exactly who to contact and what information to share is very important. Effective managers have no trouble keeping their documents and thoughts organized.
Good managers have outstanding time management skills. As managers, they have to regulate their own time and that of their team. They should be able to hold themselves to deadlines and help their employees do the same.
Reliability is an important quality in a manager. You want someone in a leadership position who you can count on to get their work done and effectively manage their team. Reliability means you can comfortably give the manager autonomy to get their work done.
Excellent managers know how to use their team members. They’re skilled at delegating tasks and allowing their employees the appropriate amount of freedom to get those tasks done.
A confident manager trusts not only in their own skills and abilities but also in those of their team. Whether they’re counseling an employee, meeting with clients or delegating an assignment, a good manager does so with confidence.
Great managers are respectful. They respect their employees, the company and their customers. Respect is an important leadership quality in and of itself, but it’s also a great characteristic to model. If your managers show respect for everyone on the team and in the company, it will encourage others to do the same.
Honesty is a necessary characteristic for relationship building. Good managers should demonstrate honesty when dealing with clients, customers and their team. If any internal or external stakeholders felt the manager was acting dishonestly, it could affect the company as a whole.
Often, it falls to managers to make decisions for their team. The ability to make timely, effective decisions can help stabilize a challenging situation and keep a project on track. Decisiveness is a key quality for a manager.
Managers are often in charge of a number of important details, tasks and information. Responsibility is absolutely necessary for a manager to ensure proprietary information stays protected, the team meets their deadlines and all minor tasks and details are accounted for.
Commonly, managers handle personal and interpersonal situations as often as they do professional challenges. Empathy for their team is a valuable quality. Managers who can understand their employee’s feelings are more likely to have positive relationships with them and help them solve their issues.
Managers can help a team or company to innovate and grow. Demonstrating creativity as a manager when structuring and implementing processes and procedures can help employees work more effectively and efficiently. Allowing employees the space to think and work creatively can improve the company’s products and services.
Managers, in addition to all their job-specific responsibilities, are also leadership models. The way they conduct themselves in the office and respond to stressors and challenges sets the tone for how their team will respond. Showing optimism even in the face of adversity will help their team do the same.
Good managers are committed to the work they do and to their team. They work hard every day to show that they care about the outcomes of their work and want to inspire their team to do the same.
Tips for identifying good managers
Whether you’re interviewing external candidates for a managerial role within your company or you’re assessing current employees to see if any are ready for a promotion to a managerial position, use these tips to help you identify the best possible candidates:
Before looking externally for managerial candidates, start with an internal search. Review your current employee roster to see if there are any employees who have the right set of skills and knowledge to handle the role.
Establish a culture
Ensure your company has a clear culture. Particularly when hiring staff from outside the organization, a distinct company culture can help the new hire quickly acclimate and know how to act on the job.
Practice active recruiting
For managerial and leadership positions, the best candidates may already be employed elsewhere. Consider performing some active recruiting to see if you can entice the most exceptional candidates away from their current positions to join your company.
Find the right skills
Look for a manager that has the specific skills you need for your organization. If the team they’ll lead needs significant guidance, ensure the candidates you interview are capable of effective communication, delegation and leadership.
Look for managerial candidates who think and act differently than you do. Too much homogeny on a leadership team will stifle creativity and innovation. People who think about problems differently are more likely to find unique solutions to challenges.
Search outside your area
Consider looking outside your immediate geographical area for candidates. You’ll get a larger selection of possible managers to choose from.
Rely on the interview
Reading a resume is not enough to identify a potential manager. You need to have a thorough interview with them in which you ask them thoughtful questions. See how they work to build rapport with you during the conversation.
Speak with potential candidates’ references. The best way to learn if someone is a good leader is to talk to those who’ve worked with them in the past. If possible, try to speak to past employees the candidate managed for an in-depth review of their skills.
Finding the best possible manager for your organization can have a major impact on your company’s overall cohesion and success. Look for specific managerial qualities in any candidates you consider.