Wednesday, August 19, 2015

3 Traits of Good Managers

What makes a good manager? There are several articles about what not to do as a manager (note to self: write a "bad manager" article in the next couple of weeks), but sometimes positive vibes are just more pleasant to read and to write. So, here's my opinion on a few traits that make someone a great manager.

They Know What They Don't Know

Smart managers know the limits of their knowledge, and they don't need to pretend to know everything. Some of them do know close to everything, but the smartest managers still know where they can rely on their people instead of their own knowledge. The most impressive and empowering managers in my opinion are those that feel comfortable inviting their employee to a meeting to speak in more detail on items that they do not know as much about. The employee on the ride-along gets exposure and experience, and the manager looks secure in their position and in the boundaries of their own knowledge. 

They Are Completely Transparent

Employees know when their manager is hiding something from them. Sometimes they can suspect it from the boss's behavior. Sometimes (I know this is hard to believe but rumor-mills are rampant) the employee knows more than the manager does. Keeping up the wall around you as a manager makes you seem distant and disconnected from your employees. Being transparent allows for your employees to be in your circle and part of a team.

Of course, there are still times when you cannot share everything with your employees. Whether impending reductions, executive-level intelligence, or other restricted information, often a directive from above prohibits the downward dissemination of information. In that instance, transparency obviously does not work, but if confronted, you have to make a choice. In that case, you can still be transparent about your position. "You know I couldn't comment on that even if there were truth to it" would be a valid response to the direct question, and it still demonstrates that if you could share information you would, thus keeping them in the inner circle.

They Look for Ways to Grow Employees

I've heard this one phrase something like this: When asked about how to create skills and other growth opportunities for their employees, weak managers ask, "What if we do and they leave?" while strong managers ask, "What if we don't and they stay?" It's an oversimplification, of course, but strong managers look for ways to make their employees and the team better through whatever opportunities they can. Whether actively seeking out training or different experiences or opportunities, the good manager recognizes that the injection of outside ideas and skills into the team grows the entire team's capabilities and builds strengths that make the manager better poised to tackle new challenges.

This, of course, represents only a few traits of great managers. What others do you see? Feel free to drop me a comment or ping me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know.