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Great managers are a hot commodity in the workforce
There’s certainly no shortage of bad managers out there. In a 2018 Monster poll, the majority of U.S. respondents (76%) said they currently have or recently had a toxic boss. Those workers said that bad bosses are power-hungry (26%), micromanagers (18%), incompetent (17%), or just never around (15%). Now that we know what’s typical of a terrible manager, it’s time to talk about what makes a good manager.
Monster checked in with some experts to find out which traits all excellent managers possess. And by the looks of it, if you’re manager material, you’ll be a hot commodity in the workforce, which you can use to go after a promotion or a higher-level job at a new company.
Top managers—like top-performing employees—generate out-of-the-box ideas that push businesses forward. These individuals introduce new strategies that improve their company’s workflow, productivity, and bottom line, says Karen Litzinger, a career coach in Pittsburgh. Put simply, they’re change agents.
Companies rely on problem solvers to navigate unexpected challenges, says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career coaching firm TurningPoint. The best managers don’t just tackle issues, though—they also identify weak spots before serious problems arise.
If you’re a manager who truly pushes boundaries, mistakes are inevitable. The important thing is being able to recover by analyzing why you failed and identifying what you can do better in the future. As Jodi Glickman, CEO of leadership development firm Great on the Job, puts it: “When something goes wrong, you need to acknowledge it and learn from your mistakes” to be an effective boss.
“A lot of managers don’t spend nearly enough time praising their employees as much as they do giving them criticism,” laments Linda Hill, Harvard Business School professor and coauthor of Being the Boss. Great managers publicly acknowledge their direct reports when credit is due; they also sing their praises to higher ups. “Receiving public recognition keeps employees motivated,” Hill says.
No one likes working for a micromanager. Thus, as a boss it’s important to be able to take a step back and let your direct reports do their jobs without feeling like you’re always watching over their shoulder. Also, by delegating tasks you’ll establish trust with your employees, which is no small thing, Hill points out.
While some bosses are micromanagers, other bosses are too hands-off—oftentimes because they’re afraid of confrontation, says Hill. But being able to confront direct reports when they’re falling short is an inherent part of being an effective boss. That said, great managers are assertive without being aggressive or condescending.
Leadership and communication skills go hand in hand. That’s why Glickman says managers must be transparent with their direct reports, “especially when sharing goals with their team.” Granted, good communication isn’t just about expressing yourself—it’s also about asking your employees the right questions and actively soliciting their feedback so you’re able to access information as successfully as you deliver it.
Being able to read a person’s moods is a core quality of a great manager, which may explain why a whopping 96% of workers said empathy is important for employers to demonstrate in BusinessSolver’s 2018 State of Workplace Empathy survey. In addition, research from the Center for Creative Leadership found that bosses who show empathy to the people they manage are seen as better performers by their own managers.
Employees value honest feedback—and great managers give them it. Moreover, recent Gallup research shows that workers who receive regular feedback from their managers perform better for their teams and companies. Another reason honesty is an important skill for managers: “When times are tough, the best thing you can do with your team is level with them,” Glickman says. “If your company is in a transitional period, you might say, ‘Things are tough right now, but I have your back. If you have problems, come to me and I’ll help you solve them.’”
Great managers invest in their employees’ career growth, Hill says. One way they do this is by offering their direct reports training opportunities that are paid for by the company. That kind of people-oriented behavior will help foster good will and keep your team engaged—meaning your employees work harder for you as a result.
Become a better boss
Managing yourself well is just as important as managing your employees. But knowing how to go about improving your leadership skills isn’t exactly second nature. Want help becoming a better boss? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get useful information about honing your management skills, improving employee engagement, and keeping your team motivated sent directly to your inbox. Your professional relationships—and your paychecks—will reap the benefits.
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