What things make a good manager?

Everyone has got their own view of what makes a good manager. There will often be an element of bias towards their reasoning and opinion; but this is completely natural and understandable. The question is, are there things that the majority of people would agree ‘these are the things that make a good manager’?

Every good manager will have some understanding and knowledge of the fundamentals of leadership and management. These are the management skills that are apparent in every leadership role in any walk of life. They are the fundamentals of good leadership and management.

Depending on where you go to define what the skills and attributes of a good manager are you will find them presented slightly differently. But let’s explore some of the things that make a good manager the JAWS Job Search way.

Having the skills to do your specific role well

As an absolute bare minimum a good manager needs to have me the skills to do their role well. This doesn’t mean ‘being able to manage people’. This statement is coming from a task and skill based perspective. This means that managers should have the skills and knowledge to be able to do the daily and weekly tasks that are required of them. Specifically them, not their team, not their bosses. Them.

They don’t have to be ‘the best’ in their team at every skill and task but they should know how to perform them proficiently.

So, examples could be, being able to manage a diary. Being able to clean to a good standard. Being able to fix cars to the level required. Being able to turn up on time. Being able to do basic administrative tasks; process documents, manage archiving, handle finances.

It will be contextual and directly linked to their role within an organisation.

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Being a good communicator

This is an absolute cliché. But clichés aren’t always bad things. In this instance it’s a very, very good thing. If you want a better word for it. This is a truism.

Managers and leaders must be good communicators. Failure to be able to communicate in a range of ways can be detrimental to the success of a manager and their team.

The best communicative skill a manager can have is the ability to know when to signpost to someone else or to spearhead a course of action them self.

Sometimes being a good communicator means letting someone else do the talking.

Being organised and on time

It’s one of the fundamentals that was touched on before. But it’s so important and vital to success.

Managers have to be organised and they have to be on time. Every time they aren’t they and the team or organisation they are in suffers.

Practising what you preach and leading by example

Being hypocritical is without question one of the most toxic and destructive forces that people are capable of.

Any manager that says ‘do this’ but doesn’t do it themselves automatically loses the faith and respect of their team and those they are working with.

Listen, people have habits and habits can be hard to break. But if you are a manager that knows what’s best, but you can’t bring yourself to apply the same good philosophies, because you are struggling to change your habits, then just be open and honest with your team about it.

When people have things explained to them they have a much greater chance of being empathetic and understanding; then they will act accordingly based on the information they have. They will respect you more for it.

Good manages absolutely must lead by example.

Having a clear vision that you communicate with your team

Successful teams run on chemistry, certainty, and confidence. A manager that doesn’t have a clear vision of how their team can meet their objectives and be successful is going to struggle.

A manager that doesn’t communicate their vision with their team can have an even worse time. So, managers get a clear vision of how your team can meet objectives and share it with them.

If you don’t have a clear vision then create one in collaboration with your team. They will be grateful for it, even if they don’t demonstrate it directly to you. You will be able to see it in their work ethic and performance.

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Regularly having contact with your team

A team, just like an individual, is an organism. Just like in nature if you don’t tend to a garden or an animal it will grow wild and become difficult to control or shepherd (manage).

By having regular contact with your team you will be able to provide a level of certainty that will fill them with confidence; as long as you do it well. Otherwise, the complete opposite can happen and you fill them with dread.

Set aside a time to have regular team meetings. Depending on the tasks and projects you are working on at any given time this might be daily, weekly, monthly, or longer.

The important thing to remember is that this can be adjusted. Adapt, evolve, and change as required.

Giving praise

The saying goes ‘manners cost nothing’. Well, manners don’t cost nothing. They cost a bit of time and energy. But it is time and energy well spent. Saying ‘well done’ to someone is essentially the same as saying thank you. It demonstrates gratitude.

If you never give your team, or yourself, any praise then people can start to harbour negative and resentful emotions.

Everybody’s day is automatically that little bit better when people give praise, use manners, and say thank you.

Giving constructive criticism

Giving criticism and constructive criticism can be the difference between a good and a bad manager. A manager that claims that they give feedback to people isn’t necessarily a good manager. The quality of the feedback they are giving could be weak. It’s like when someone moans about a problem but doesn’t provide any support, guidance, or suggestions on how to improve things. That is the different between criticism and constructive criticism; offering suggestions and guidance.

A common fault that bad managers have is that they will give criticism, but then naively expect that the person they are giving it to is knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced enough to know what to do with the feedback. This can create a sense of uncertainty and be the source of where problems start to arise.

So, double check that your team understand what you mean. Get them to confirm their understanding of what you said back to them. That is how truly good constructive criticism is given.

Appropriately delegating workload

Ultimately, you and your team will have a workload. So just be smart, courteous, and sensible about how you share the load amongst your team. Don’t just give the same tasks to the same people. Mix it up every now and again so that people can improve and develop in their role.

Equally, don’t just dump a huge amount of work onto someone that has no skills and knowledge of a task; especially if you aren’t going to ensure they are trained and supported to learn how to perform it.

Then there is also accounting for the patterns and seasonal aspects of workload. Maybe you are always more busy at the weekend compared to the start of the week. Or maybe you are always quieter in winter. Staff your team and delegate work accordingly.

Recognising skill sets and nurturing talent

If someone demonstrates a particular aptitude for something don’t let it go unnoticed. Check in with them and see if they want to work on developing that skill or talent. Don’t keep people under skilled just so that they have to stick in your team and organisation.

Staff turnover happens just as much because people have developed themselves and wish to move on as it does because they resent their managers and workplace and the opportunities that aren’t created for them to develop and improve.

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Learn the styles of encouragement and motivation

People are motivated by different things and are stimulated in different ways. For starters, learn what it is to be internally motivated and externally motivated. Don’t try and force your believes upon someone else, just recognise what drives and motivates your team and use that knowledge to help them perform to the best of their abilities in their roles and succeed as best they can.

Defending and promoting your team

It’s inevitable that at some point someone isn’t going to like the way you go about things. Be prepared to respectfully defender your team. No one is going to want to help a manager that doesn’t defend and support them. That said, if the criticism of your team is justified then own it with them. Take some responsibility for the fact they are in the position they are in. After all, they will be partly in that position because you allowed it to happen.

Likewise, when your team does good don’t be embarrassed or shy to talk highly of them. Lots of managers can say to their team that they are doing a good job. But how many have the courage to tell other people they are doing a good job?

Just be sure to express yourself with sincerity. The worst thing you can do is say something just because you think it’s going to improve a situation. Any situation built on lies runs the risk of collapsing because of a lack of authenticity,

Creating and maintaining a culture

Finally, whatever vibe, chemistry, flow, or culture you want to see from your team is only going to exist because of you. You have to do everything you can to create the culture you want. You then have to do everything you can do to maintain the culture you want.

“If you want a particular type of culture to exist you have to cultivate it. You have to live and breathe it in order to bring it to life.”

Chris davy


Born in Wolverhampton. Raised in Wolverhampton and Exmouth. Educated in Wolverhampton, Exmouth, and Kingston. Living in Exeter.

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