Good managers are difficult to find in the corporate woodwork. Finding someone who possesses all of the qualities of a good manager is even more difficult. You’ve seen them — the supervisors who have an infectious love for the organization and the ability to make decisions with empathy and knowledge. It often seems as though organizations have trouble finding these managers because there are few and far between, but we don’t have that problem at my marketing agency, Red Branch Media. It’s not because we have a huge hiring budget or because we invest in pricey training programs (neither of which are bad things). It’s because we know which qualities will make great managers and which qualities can spell disaster in a leadership position. Here are the ones we look for in our key players.
They Love the Company Culture
Good managers are great leaders and high achievers, but the best managers? They like unique qualities about the company that might turn others off. They become invested in not only the company but the culture therein. Chris Edmonds, CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, said: “Most managers invest far greater time and energy on their team or company’s products and services than they do in their work culture — yet culture drives everything that happens in their organization, good or bad.”
Our best managers take this to heart. They are constantly talking about what they can do to make the company better and how it compares (favorably) to other jobs. Even when they don’t love their duties, they love the culture.
They’re Positively Contagious
A positive attitude can go a long way. Managers who have a good attitude during the workday don’t complain about projects that need to get done. They look for solutions to finish them before the deadline. According to Gallup, 51 percent of managers have mentally checked out from their job and their company. We have one manager who is so excited about her job and inspiring greatness in her co-workers, we have to tell her to stop working. Her drive to be better affects everyone around her.
They Can Sustain Focus
The key to overall success? Prioritization and the ability to focus for an extended period of time. Specifically, they can manage multiple projects at once to make sure everything gets done on time and completed to client (or company) specifications. Bhavin Parikh, CEO and Founder of Magoosh Inc., said: “Lack of focus is the reason many small companies fail. The best managers solve that problem through ruthless prioritization. They identify the three most impactful projects from a list of ten and focus their team on those three. They help keep their employees’ proverbial plates just the right amount of full.”
We have a “Brancher” who has built his entire job around delegating tasks to the team and ensuring that everything is completed on time. He does this by meeting with his team when he needs to and then putting his head down to get the work done.
They Lead With Their Head and Heart
Empathy for employees is important — everyone goes through professional and personal struggles that can affect their work. The best managers are emotionally intelligent; they have the ability to lead their employees and guide them with understanding. If top performers have high emotional intelligence, it stands to reason then that your managers should have it too. The best managers, however, understand that compassion doesn’t equate to subpar performance, and they nip issues in the bud before they carry over to the quality of work output, even if that means carrying some of the burden themselves.
A managerial position is no place for a dishonest employee. Your best managers will tell their team the information they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that’s the only way your team can grow. At Red Branch Media, we have a very transparent culture, using weekly “micro” feedback and open communication channels to avoid dishonesty in everything from deliverables to deadlines, cliques and creative.
They Take Accountability
A well-rounded manager will take charge of their own goals and, on the same note, take responsibility when things don’t go according to plan. They foster a culture of accountability so their employees understand the importance of responsibility for their actions as well. According to an analysis published in Harvard Business Review, 46 percent of managers rated poorly on holding their teams accountable. I help my managers avoid this by holding them accountable when they are frustrated with contributors on their team. If they feel passionate enough about an issue to come to me with it, they need to be able to have a productive conversation with their employees as well.
They’re Effective at Making Decisions
If supervisors can’t make decisions for their team, how can they expect to guide them towards the finish line for projects or goals? The truth is, they can’t. That’s why the best managers have the ability to make decisions with a wealth of information — in a short amount of time — to get the best results from their team.
The best managers are hard to come by, and with good reason: they have to be emotionally intelligent, honest, and hold their team to the same performance and accountability standards that they hold themselves to.
There’s not a single tool out there that will assess the ideal match of a manager to the team. Their resumes might illustrate the skills and the experience they have to lead a team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a good manager. Rather, there are innate personality traits to be aware of, and this is something only an excellent judge of character can ascertain before hiring (or promoting).