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From ‘Meh’ to Marvelous: 8 Ways to Make a Good Manager Great

Kristen Ruttgaizer

May 27, 2019 · 4 min read

Honesty, communication skills, and a clear vision for the company/team are just a few qualities of a good manager. What makes a great manager, however, is the ability to use those qualities to cultivate a workplace and culture where people are engaged and empowered to do their best work. In today’s digital workplace environment, leaders need to focus on the employee experience more than ever.

Google spent 10 years studying what makes a great boss and then started training all managers to develop those traits and behaviors. It’s been a successful strategy. And while training is a critical piece of the puzzle, leaders also need to adopt digital tools and processes to improve the way people communicate, collaborate and share knowledge – because all these things are critical to the wider organization.

8 characteristics of a great manager

We’ve identified some of the most important qualities of successful managers, along with some actions they can take to create a people-powered workplace culture.

1. They’re skilled communicators.

Great managers recognize that communication is a two-way street – usually that means listening more than talking. Some of the best manager qualities are openness and an expression of genuine interest in their team’s thoughts and opinions.

Great managers have a good understanding of the organization’s vision and they not only share it with the team, but ensure everyone understands how their objectives will contribute to delivering on this vision.

2. They’re team-builders.

While bad managers opt for “divide and conquer” tactics, great ones rely on effective teambuilding, which starts with recognizing and developing the strengths of the individuals that make up the team.

Successful managers understand that building a great team starts with an effective and positive employee onboarding process. Digital workplace solutions for onboarding and HR are designed to engage new hires from day one.

3. They encourage and empower.

Managing by fear is a sure-fire way to fail as a leader. Ever reported to a boss who used their position to intimidate rather than empower their team? It’s demotivating, disrespectful, and ultimately benefits nobody. Good managers are known to instill self-motivation in others by creating a work environment that’s positive and supportive.

Great managers give kudos where they’re due by acknowledging and rewarding the employees going above and beyond. Employee recognition tools make it easy for managers to motivate their people and let them know they’re valued.

4. They’re transparent.

Honesty and integrity are essential characteristics of a great manager. True leaders understand the importance of being transparent because they’ve got nothing to hide – and their honesty creates a culture of trust that benefits everyone. Given that 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employers, we can all agree that transparency should be a tool in any manager’s arsenal.

5. They don’t micromanage.

Great managers lead by example, not by creating to-do lists. They recognize that empowering people means trusting them to get the job done, while micromanagement has a negative impact on both productivity and culture. A survey conducted by Robert Half reported that 60% of employees had worked for a micromanager at some point in their career. Of that group, 55% said it decreased their productivity and 68% said it dampened their morale.

6. They get results.

In addition to empowering the team, managers need to keep the company’s larger goals in mind. Successful leaders get results because they help their team develop the skills required to achieve the necessary results. And they recognize that employees are more productive when they’re part of the bigger picture.

Digital workplace solutions like Town Halls give managers a forum for sharing the company goals and vision and provide an opportunity to connect with employees across the company.

7. They’re passionate about company culture.

You know a great manager when you see one. They’re the person whose positivity is contagious. A positive working culture matters to great leaders because they understand that’s where people thrive. Leaders who portray this quality lead by example. For example, they participate in discussions (not just to give directions), and they join the social and team-building events.

8. They’re not afraid to innovate.

“But this is the way we’ve always done it.” These aren’t words you’ll hear a great manager say – because thinking outside the box is one of the key qualities of a great manager and leader. In a digital workplace, it’s critical to find new ways of working together to tackle business challenges. That’s why great leaders foster and encourage innovation.

But wait, there’s more: 2 bonus manager traits

A sense of humour

A survey from the Predictive Index suggests that a sense of humor should be on the list of traits of a great manager, and two Stanford business professors agree, so it’s worthy of an honorable mention. Digital workplace tools like the Social Zone can help managers inject a bit of fun into the corporate culture, encouraging employees to post personal stories or funny links throughout the day.

And a sense of humility

The importance of humility in business is often overlooked, but according to Forbes, humble leaders listen more effectively. Humility is about being more focused on the team, having a “them first” – not “me first”— attitude.

Turn good into great

To be successful, organizations should look for these qualities in new recruits or when promoting within. In the words of Bill Gates, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

So, take a look inside your organization and see if your people leaders are contributing to a culture of empowerment, and if not, emphasizing what characteristics can turn a good manager into a great one is a great place to start.