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What Makes a Good Manager? The 10 Essential Qualities

What makes a good manager

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3 in 5 new managers fail in their appointment within their first two years. It’s a sombre set of statistics that needs to be addressed. With Industrial Revolution 4.0 in full swing, the need for effective managers to lead organisations and people in an ever- evolving business landscape is crucial. So let’s discuss what makes a good manager.

Indeed, being a manager is challenging. Over the last decade, the level of difficulty has risen. Thanks to the rapid digitisation of society and the workplace, managers have to perform in what is commonly referred to as the VUCA environment – volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous. Amongst others, it calls on managers to be decisive yet agile.

To some extent, the pervasive application of technology at the workplace created this environment. But technology is nothing more than an enabler. There are universal issues and challenges managers have to confront and resolve regardless of the state of technology. From organising tasks, delegating, supervising and evaluating the outcomes, managers have to deal with them daily while at the same keeping an eye on long-term goals. It can be a massive juggling act. Hence, it can be emotionally stressful for some.

On a more positive note

There is an abundance of knowledge and experience available for organisations and managers to tap into. There are new paradigms and frameworks to nurture effective leaders. However, it requires both organisations and managers to make time to pursue them.

Increased collaboration in the workplace has become the norm too. It’s impossible to nurture an idea to its fruition alone. One has to collaborate with others. For example, embedding IT employees in other departments, from marketing to production and even human resource, is the norm.

On this note, managers must break down technical barriers that can mar effective collaboration between different groups of technicians and professionals.

Future managers need to be equipped with other skill sets too. We will examine them in this article. Before that, let’s look at prime reasons for managerial failure.

Why Managers Fail?

Why managers fail in their roles

Absence of a mentor

A mentor lends guidance to new managers founded on experience. While the technical proficiency of the manager is unquestionable, leading and managing people may be new. There are hidden and sharp turns. Sometimes, these occasions can make or break the new manager. With a mentor, new managers have the benefit of ‘borrowed’ hindsight to turn to.

Poor people skills

A day in the life of a manager is largely spent managing people. Without the relevant skills and qualities, it can be time and energy-sapping. In fact, the term managing people doesn’t capture the full spectrum of work involved. It includes leading, motivating, cheering, and occasionally disciplining – not just assigning tasks.

Lack of further development

The manager’s to-do-list is long. Unfortunately, it leaves the manager with little time to focus on further personal and professional development. It may stagnate their career and personal development. This doesn’t augur well for them and the organisation in the long run.

Absence of clear standards and accountability

This is perhaps more common in smaller organisations. Once an employee assumes a managerial post, they’re expected to be able to perform. Only when they fail to rise to the occasion will they be aware of their failures and shortcomings. By then, it may be too little, too late to state the standards and accountability that come with the position.

10 Qualities of a Good Manager

Ostensibly, now is the most exciting and challenging time to be a manager. There are new frontiers to be explored and conquered. But without the right qualities, failure looms large. In this article, we share the 10 essential qualities effective managers of the future must possess to be successful.

Qualities of a good manager

1. Staying ahead of the team

Lifelong learning is a buzzword in societies and organisations. The world has become more unpredictable. New situations and challenges are being thrown at us constantly. The best way to stay prepared is to continuously embrace new knowledge and skills to at least be able to confront the uncertainties and map a way out. To facilitate a manager’s continued development, both time and incentives should be given for them to attend developmental courses.

2. A great communicator

The inability to translate a vision and mission into everyday tasks for others to perform can be detrimental. They’ll be like sheep without a shepherd. Now, more than ever, people need to have a sense of meaning in the things they do at work, home and in their personal lives. The effective manager must be able to communicate the vision and lend meaning to the tasks they expect team members to accomplish. When employees recognise their contribution, they are less likely to approach their work in a mechanistic fashion. Hosting regular team meetings contributes to this end.

3. A great listener

We live in the information and knowledge age. Everyone knows a thing or two more than they used to thanks to Google. As such, there is an inner need to want to be heard and potentially make a contribution to the idea or task at hand. The effective manager has to make time to listen to employees. Scheduling one-on-one sessions with team members is good practice. It doesn’t have to be a formal occasion.

4. Encouraging trust

Encouraging staff trust and rapport

Why is nurturing relationships with team members important? Essentially, it is to sow the seeds of trust. Without trust, a manager has to continuously check on them. Not only is this time-consuming but may not be received well by team members. At a time when WFH (working from home) is the norm, demonstrating trust is the bond that draws team members closer, regardless of location. Where possible and meaningful, give team members the room to execute their work with no or minimal supervision.

5. Decisive yet agile

One of the leadership traits COVID-19 has shone a light on to be an effective manager is being decisive yet agile. “An evolving situation” is the language of this pandemic. While needing to be decisive on the actions to be taken, managers must be open to new situations or challenges. Explaining your course of action and assumptions you have made avoids team members seeing you as being apprehensive in the event you’ll need to change direction.

6. A self-driven individual

Leadership by example becomes more effective when others see the drive in you to succeed. Success is very contagious. When others see you conquering one obstacle after another or soaring to greater heights, they will be moved to emulate this. But if you stagnate and stay content with where you are, you will encounter difficulties in getting your team to steer ahead. It might not be a bad idea to share with team members goals you’ve set for yourself. And it probably matters little whether they are work or personal in nature.

7. Intimate knowledge of your team members’ needs and aspirations

It has never been more possible to live life as fully as it is now. Chasing a dream or ambition is less a wish than it is a possibility. Like everyone else, your team members have one to chase as well and you need to know it. That’s the level of intimacy and knowledge of your team members that effective managers have. Acknowledging it is sometimes sufficient enough to demonstrate to team members that you care. Never leave this out when conducting periodic employee appraisals and evaluation.

8. Valuing team members’ roles and contributions

It’s not just about expressing gratitude in the form of bonuses, pay increments or promotions. More importantly, is to inform them of the role they’ve played towards making a positive difference to the team and organisation. This will lead to higher employee engagement, which has proven to be important in the workplace today. It results in happier employees as well as a lower rate of employee turnover. Be generous and open in sharing them with the team.

9. Effectively managing conflicts

Conflicts in the workplace are unavoidable. In fact, it can be healthy. It is an opportunity to surface differences, which if allowed to fester may be more harmful. When they arise, the effective manager is expected to resolve them. Whether they are temporary or permanent solutions, the manager needs to own the conflict and take the appropriate measures.

10. Being transparent

As mentioned above, trust is vital. One of the ways to sow the seeds of trust is to be transparent. Team members should never be left with the perception you’ve got hidden cards. Be open, stay open. Team members must believe everyone’s in it together. When they uphold this, you’ve made your job as a manager a shade easier, especially in a crisis.

At a time when a new social contract needs to be developed to enable people and technology to co-exist in the workplace, effective managers are needed to realise the immense potential of this synergy. Organisations must address prevailing shortcomings while at the same time injecting new skills into managers. The fact is, a manager’s role has evolved significantly. Connect here to nurture managers of the future for your organisation.

Thank you for reading this article, your comments and insights are welcome.

Please also check out our full list of managerial courses

The Aptitude Team

Aptitude Management is a corporate training provider operating throughout Australia. We provide public workshops and inhouse programs specifically designed for middle managers. We can be contacted on 1800 753 087.
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