3 Traits of GREAT Managers

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It seems that the problem of ineffective managers in the workplace has become an epidemic. According to Gallup, choosing managers is one of the most critical decisions an organization can make. A staggering 82% of the time candidates without the right skills and abilities are somehow getting their manager badge, costing organizations of all shapes, sizes and cultures BILLIONS of dollars.

Expecting someone who is great at their job to be a great manager right away is like expecting a college freshman who was smart enough to get into college, to be ready to graduate within a week or two of starting classes.

There is a constant debate in adult learning and development circles over whether managers can be trained or if it is an innate quality. The answer will always be a little bit of both.

Think of someone you know (it can be anyone) who is great at managing projects, events or people. They are enthusiastic, fair and pay attention to detail. Their integrity is second to none. The bottom line is: YOU CAN COUNT ON THEM. This can be a co-worker, your sister or even a friend.

Some of you may be thinking of someone who has had extensive work experience and training, while others of you may be thinking of someone who was just “born that way.”

Learning to manage can happen as early as the childhood years. Great managers can even be born out of chaotic pasts where disruption in the home caused a young person to create structure inside of disarray. One can learn great management from playing organized sports, or being part of civic, service or scouting organizations.

We learn to manage not just be doing but by UNDERSTANDING what it means to manage effectively. This has little connection to being able to do one’s individual job effectively.

leader businessman – teamwork icon

There are some people who are GREAT at what they do and ineffective at helping others to be successful at doing that same thing. While I could probably write a book of 50 or more characteristics that I’ve seen great managers possess from the past 18 years of consulting, training and organizational coaching, I am picking the 3 I think are MOST critical. (I’ll spare you more stats and HR drivel.)

  1. They actually like people. Managers that don’t like people or have no patience for the imperfections of human beings are one thing: sub par. It’s like those teachers who become teachers and HATE kids. It make so sense. A great manager has a genuine care for people. It doesn’t mean they can’t be tough when they need to, but they radiate a certain energy that has people RESPOND to them, trust them and want to work for and with them.
  2. They work HARD but SMART. Running oneself into the ground isn’t admirable. In fact it usually the cause of ineffectiveness, irritability, health problems and more. Great stamina in a manager is a plus. That willingness to go the extra mile, stay late or cover another employee’s work is always an asset. But a great manager THINKS about the value of their time. They prioritize and evaluate, giving appropriate tasks to others and training those around them to be equally effective. A sign you’ve got a great manager is that they create repeatable processes that help them do their job and hand those off to others.
  3. They communicate well and often. A manager hidden in their office with a closed door is poor at best. A manager’s ability to communicate openly, appropriately through speaking AND writing is critical to managerial success. They regularly have staff meetings AND 1-1 meetings that are NOT always purely about performance check-ins. A great manager does NOT USE email as a sole source of communication and CERTAINLY does not use email in place of difficult or performance based conversations. In short, they are mature (yet imperfect) adults who have left the antics of adolescent communicating behind them.

So now what?

  • If you are considering promoting or hiring a new manager, you’ve got to give them some tangible situations related to some of the above characteristics and ask how they would handle certain dilemmas. This should be built into the interview process.
  • Give new managers benchmarks for success and satisfaction in their new role. This means within the first 90 days they need to have tangible small goals that must be met with regards to communication, productivity and whatever other metrics might be specific to your industry.
  • Remember, people do what you follow up on. A great manager must also have another great manager to report to and guide them by holding them accountable.

Consistent commitment to training is essential for managers as well. While you may not be able to always send them away from the workplace for this, we are bringing some of this training to you. Native Nation Events Leadership Solutions Group brings LIVE and ON DEMAND training right to you on skills that employees and managers need to communicate and collaborate better in the workplace.  

Check out our NEW On Demand Virtual Course: Training New Managers.

Click here for more information and to register. 

Join our exclusive VIP program to receive first notice of course registration and additional support, coaching and resources. Click here to join!

Checkout our LIVE online training schedule HERE. 


Questions about training new managers? Email Stephanie@nativenationevents.org


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