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How to develop great managers
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How to develop great managers to develop great managers

How to develop great managers

The 5 Essential Traits of Great Managers

Imagine your organisation without managers. Imagine all your employees knocking on your door for approval on almost everything. That can just be frustrating. This is why organisations always demand for great managers, at all levels.

Great managers inspire and motivate people to achieve organisational goals. They also help to attract and keep quality employees. Research conducted by CEB suggests that effective managers can have an enormous impact on a company’s bottom line. They can increase the retention level of direct reports by 40% and performance levels by 25%.

As important as the role of a manager is, many organisations do not put careful and deliberate thought into the development of their managers. Invariably, many employees find themselves in managerial roles without any kind of preparation or capability building. The result is almost always disastrous.

Intelligence, passion and focus are important qualities to look out for, but possessing them does not translate to great managerial skills.

“Emeka, a manager, seems to have it all. Serious minded, focused and intelligent, with an MBA, Emeka should be a star considering the fact that he has all the raw ingredients for success. In reality, employee turnover in his department is high and motivation is low. He hurts his subordinates with his “joking” remarks, reacts badly to criticism and becomes impatient when things are brought to his attention.

“I really do not want to `work with him again.”

“He’s mean and annoying.”

These are common phrases uttered by his subordinates. All the qualifications in the world cannot overshadow these glaring weaknesses. Although he has a great profile, it is obvious that high intelligence does not necessarily correlate with an ability to effectively manage people to produce outstanding results. Success in managing people takes much more than technical knowledge.”

Good managers inspire and motivate, but bad managers fail miserably at engaging their employees. People, they say, join organisations but leave managers. It is therefore imperative that organisations build some essential qualities in their managers to ensure that their best people are not driven away.

But what does it take to become a great manager?

  1. Great managers embrace individuality

The first trait to develop is the ability to see people as individuals and identify the unique qualities each person has. In his Harvard Business Review article on management, bestselling author and business guru, Marcus Buckingham puts it this way:

“Managers will succeed only when they can identify and deploy the differences among people, challenging each employee to excel in his or her own way.”

Treating employees like interchangeable cogs in a business’s machine not only shows a lack of respect to their individuality, but is also bound to cause burnout and resentment, leading to lower sales and profits over time.

Instead, great managers work to uncover strengths and weaknesses in their employees, fitting them into the role where they will be of most use and feel the most successful

  1. Great managers create an atmosphere of trust

Great managers make employees feel comfortable by creating a positive and open environment. They appreciate hard work and creativity while offering constructive feedback regularly, as opposed to only during scheduled reviews.

One of the hardest parts of management is delivering negative feedback or news. But managers who shy away from this task will create an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. Great managers are honest and upfront about good or bad news, and build a trusting relationship with their team.

  1. Great managers engage their team

Effective team engagement is one of the most revealing traits of a great manager. According to a global poll conducted by Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

Engaging employees starts with the hiring process, where managers should look for talent and personality, rather than certain skillsets. After all, you can train someone to do a certain skill, but you cannot train them to be enthusiastic.


To keep employees engaged, great managers develop employee career paths based on their professional interests and invest in their professional development. The best way to keep talented employees engaged is to reward staff based on performance, not seniority.

  1. Great managers give autonomy

Gallup managing partner Randall Beck and bestselling author Jim Harter say that great managers “create environments where employees take responsibility for their own, and their team’s engagement, and build workplaces that are engines of productivity and profitability.” It might be hard to watch an employee struggle at a new task but, assuming you’ve provided adequate training, it’s more effective and empowering to let them figure it out on their own. According to Theodore Roosevelt:

“The best executive is the one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Managers who do not give autonomy create an atmosphere of distrust and will become fatigued as they over-involve themselves with employees’ tasks.

  1. Great managers set and communicate goals

Employees are successful when they know what they are doing—and why. Even the lowest-paid employee deserves to know what the mission is, and how their role impacts that mission. To empower employees in this way, great managers set clear goals and communicate them to their staff. Then they follow up regularly to ensure that goals are met, and to help troubleshoot in case they are not met.


Courage and Trust

In a nutshell, great managers have stockpiles of both courage and trust. The courage to step away from micromanaging, and to deliver feedback—positive or negative. And trust that they’ve hired the right people, that they’ve trained them correctly, and that those people will do their jobs, handle issues, and communicate problems.

Do you really have the right managers? Your employees are your greatest assets. Train your managers to treat them well, manage them wisely, and watch your business grow.

At Workforce Group, we are aware of the critical role managers play in determining the growth of an organization, that’s why we have training sessions uniquely targeted at equipping managers with the right skills to play their role effectively.

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