A recent Gallup poll estimated that only about 1 in 10 people naturally possess the talent to manage.
What’s even scarier is that organizations name the wrong person as manager about 80% of the time!
The study also learned that 50% of employees that quit, do so to get away from a manager.
If these numbers don’t make you question the leadership in your company, look again. Managers are crucial in shaping the culture of their teams and workplaces.
They have to play both an administrative and leadership role, which requires a diverse set of skills for them to be successful.
Just like technology, the role of a manager is evolving.
In the past, managers acted as a supervisor and micromanager. Today, they’re a mix of leader, coach, motivator, strategist, and trainer.
The right manager can inspire and motivate those under them to excel in their positions.
As E. M. Kelly wrote in his popular 1995 masterpiece Growing Disciples: “A boss says ‘Go!’, A leader says ‘Let’s go’!”
So, what are the traits you should possess as a manager?
While there are more than a few skills that a great manager will have, here are some important ones.
- They have high-quality communication skills. — Knowing what needs to be done is only a part of a manager’s responsibility. Knowing how to communicate it to their team members is entirely different. Successful managers have great communication skills. They’re able to communicate clearly to all kinds of personality types. Honesty plays a large part in this. Great managers have the ability to tell their team what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Being able to clearly communicate job responsibilities and expectations are vital for this position.
- They don’t micromanage. — Imagine working for someone that watches your every move and requires progress reports more often than necessary. What if they chastise you for carrying out your tasks differently than they would have? It’s not productive and quite frankly, pisses people off. Micromanaging employees tells them you don’t trust them to complete their tasks well. Trust your employees to do their job, but be available to help or answer questions when needed.
- They think outside the box. — Having creative leaders is vital for any organization to survive in our ever-changing business world. They have the ability to see things in a different way and create solutions others would never have thought of. If you want to take your company to the next level, hire a manager that doesn’t see things in black and white.
- They know how to delegate. — Being able to delegate makes for a more efficient and effective workplace. It also makes your team more motivated and empowered when you assign them additional responsibilities and make them more accountable. The “If you want it done right, do it yourself” mentality doesn’t work in fast-paced workplace culture.
- They can inspire others. — According to former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, “No company, big or small, can win in the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” The ability to inspire those on your team drives them to reach greater heights of performance and success. They will follow you by choice instead of obligation.
- They have empathy. — Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s experience, perspective, and feelings. Most employees feel like they are drowning in work and managers need to be empathetic. Putting yourself in their shoes will give you a better understanding of what it’s like to do their job.
- They are positive and enthusiastic. — According to Gallup, 51% of managers have mentally checked out from their job and their company. Who wants to work for someone that doesn’t care or is negative all the time? Having a positive attitude and being enthusiastic about getting the job done is contagious. If your managers are upbeat and positive, their team will be too.
- They are decisive. — In addition to making routine decisions constantly, managers also have to make tough choices on a regular basis too. After doing their due diligence and assessing all of their options, great leaders aren’t afraid to act swiftly and decisively.
- They build a work culture of mutual trust. — Managers that trust their employees to do their jobs go a long way. In turn, their team needs to trust them. A lack of trust makes your best people leave. Mutual trust between managers and their team and coworkers with each other increases morale, productivity, and efficiency.
- They focus on employee strengths. — A Gallup poll found that strength-based companies had better sales, profits, and customer engagement. If managers focus on employees’ strengths instead of trying to fix their weaknesses, everyone will be happier and more productive. It’s not rocket science to know that people prefer to take on projects that they are more equipped for.
This entire discussion around bad bosses and great managers comes down to a simple truth that employees don’t often say out loud.
People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers.
A manager who does not communicate well, and does not clearly define responsibilities and expectations or has entirely unrealistic expectations — is a bad manager.
This sort of bad behavior leads to confusion and frustration amongst team members. Work doesn’t get done and people will soon leave.
Fast-growing technology companies like Facebook focus on having great managers, and it shows.
“At Facebook, the great managers are supporting, they’re taking care of people, they’re reinforcing people’s strengths, they’re trying to make sure they get the opportunities to learn and grow in their jobs,” Vice President of HR Janelle Gale told job review site Glassdoor.
Even if you aren’t one of the 10% of people that naturally possess the talent to manage, you can still learn to be a kick-ass manager.
And in today’s connected world, the resources to learn and master the traits mentioned above go far beyond what is offered by the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions of the past.
Through continuous learning, you have access to a multitude of platforms to find a resource best suited to your learning style to expand and build knowledge and skillsets — turning weaknesses into strengths.
It takes self-awareness to identify traits you want to improve — as well as the self-motivation and dedication to follow through.
If you want your best people to stay and be engaged, it is important you remember how much management matters.