What makes a successful manager?

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017 by The MSS teamNo comments


Let’s clear this up first: Management and leadership is not one and the same. Of course, successful managers will invariably have strong leadership skills, but management requires a specific set of characteristics that true ‘leaders’ don’t always possess. And interestingly, a recent internal study by Google found that technical skills weren’t top of that list.

Overwhelmingly, Google found that the managers who focused more on building a connection and being accessible were more likely to be considered a ‘Super Boss’.

But how exactly do successful managers build such a connection? From experience, we believe it’s a combination of the following:

They empower their staff; It’s time consuming, but coaching employees and giving them more autonomy is an investment that can really pay off. For one, it eliminates the need for counter-productive and even more time-consuming micromanaging. That doesn’t mean they won’t step in to help when needed; it does mean employees are likely to be more motivated.

They care about their employees; Successful managers know that their employees’ wellbeing and success has a direct impact on the company’s productivity. Or as the article referenced above puts it: ‘Effective managers take care of their people, understanding that their people take care of the work.’ They take the time to ask staff how they are, help them work to their individual strengths and provide resources to support them. They also care about their career progression.

They’re good at communicating; The best managers listen to their employees’ viewpoints and find ways to communicate them to the board. They’re upfront about the challenges facing the company and provide regular updates on changes and priorities so everyone knows the goals they’re working towards. Also, by openly responding to concerns or questions, they instil trust in their employees.

They’re honest; Successful managers are true to their word. They do what they say they will when they say they will. They provide honest but constructive feedback when expectations haven’t been met or they’ve been unable to negotiate something on their employees’ behalf. For this, they are respected.

They encourage teamwork; The value of collective working is not lost on successful managers. They make a point of drawing together the talents of different employees and assigning clear roles. More team working not only provides a boost to morale, it also leads to more productive brainstorming and better problem solving.

They give recognition; Good managers acknowledge the efforts and achievements of their employees when they warrant it. This isn’t always with a big monetary gesture. Although financial rewards are no doubt appreciated, smaller gifts or thank yous are sufficient and can make a big difference to employees. 

They understand their employees; This is where technical skills become important. A successful manager will often have worked their way up, so they’ll be in a good position to understand common challenges and, more importantly, solutions. They might not have every specialism, but they’ll have a sufficient skillset to provide support when it’s most needed.

They keep their cool; Being a manager can be highly stressful, but if you lose control you also lose respect. No employee wants a volatile or unpredictable boss. Successful managers are calmer and more composed. Having said that, if they do slip up they can increase the chances of restoring trust with a sincere apology; after all, we’re all human. 

There’s truth in the saying that people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. A manager who creates the right connection builds employee engagement, increases job satisfaction and delivers truly outstanding business results.   If you’ve got what it takes to make a successful manager, get in touch today to see if we can help you find your next position.

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