In our recent blog post, we spoke about how bad management affects employee engagement and described three types of manager that are damaging to a business.
Whilst it’s important to help managers see where they may be going wrong – we also believe it’s even more important to talk about how a manager can do right! It will not only benefit the manager, but your team's performance as a whole.
Google’s Project Oxygen is a continuous piece of research that was started in 2008 with the aim of finding out what makes a good manager at Google.
Because we believe these ideal management characteristics can be followed by companies other than Google, we've rounded them up and talked through some ways you can apply their findings to your leadership style.
Want to understand what a good manager is? Keep reading and you will find valuable and practical qualities of a good manager.
1. Be a good coach
Coaching is one of the most widespread leadership strategies. It has been extensively studied and is increasingly being used in whatever industry or profession. If you're a competent manager who coaches regularly, you will allow your team to thrive and be successful, resulting in a win-win situation for both the manager and the team. Below are a few points why possessing coaching skills is a key quality of being a good manager
- You as a manager will get more trust from your team
- Your relationship with the team will become more collaborative rather than by only you making all the decisions
- Helping employees to develop their leaderships skills
- Help team members reach their goals and be ambitious in their position.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your highest performing employees don’t want to be coached; sometimes these employees are the ones who need it the most. So, what makes a good manager for your team? You, as a good coach, always need to keep an eye on your employees and analyze how to improve your team’s skills and competences. Your team needs a leader, who is able to coach and help your employees move forward. It is the most common quality of a good manager, so you, as a leader of your team, need to be analytical and critical thinker as well.
2. Empower your team and do not micromanage
We have previously discussed the negative implications of being a micromanager in our bad management blog post. The Project Oxygen research also shows that micromanagement is seriously damaging to employees both personally and professionally. Micromanagement leaves little room for innovation or new ideas, since if you adopt micromanagement practices, your team will not progress further, and you may expect workplace stagnation and poor performance.
If you want to be a truly great manager, you need to completely avoid any micro-managing characteristics and tendencies you may have as employees despise it.
3. Create an inclusive team environment
Google found it was important for employees to feel included and valued.
Project Oxygen also found that psychological safety was important for employees. They found this particularly important in the context of risk-taking, which employees should feel comfortable with and confident enough to make bold decisions.
Inclusivity was also an important factor at Google. Having a diverse team is good, but making sure everyone feels included is what makes a good manager. And surely you’re aware that the best learning comes from mistakes, right? As a manager, you should demonstrate trust and align your whole staff equally. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, since all the best ideas come from big failures.
4. Be productive and results-oriented
A good manager is one that is focused on results over everything, as they know this is what will drive business progress and achieve results. As a good manager, you have to be able to see the “big picture” and prepare further steps, if progress isn’t as it should be.
What makes a good manager is that he or she understands that they are a role model for their team and wants to set an outstanding example for them. If a manager has a lazy attitude, then this is going to rub off on employees and they aren’t going to perform to a high standard. No manager can fully rest after delegating all responsibilities to his or her staff. Your attitude needs to be inspiring, so that you can lead by example.
5. Be a good communicator
In our previous blog posts, we have stressed the importance of managers holding regular 1 to 1 meetings with their employees. This creates a positive culture between manager and employee and also allows managers to get feedback from employees. You can discover how each person feels at work and inside the team. By analyzing your team, you will be proactive and reduce employee turnover, maybe saving your team from separation or division.
A good manager is one that knows how to communicate effectively with their team, but a great manager knows that listening is even more important.
6. Support career development and discuss performance
In our previous post on re-engaging employees, we spoke about the importance of allowing employees to develop in their position, either through further training or increased responsibility.
It is also important that employees are aware of how they’re performing. If they’re underperforming then it’s important you let them know, and work together to try and find a solution to how they could improve. Maybe your employees are losing motivation? Maybe they don’t have enough competence to finish the required task? You, as a manager, can create little milestones, which will help to see where your employees are struggling and take the right action, which will help increase team performance.
Additionally, to motivate your employees to perform well, you can add gamification elements to your department. This will create little challenges and boost performance among your team.
If employees are overperforming then recognizing this is important too, either by rewarding or praising.
7. Have a clear vision/strategy for your team
If a manager is unclear about which direction they are going in, then this will reflect in team performance.
Managers should communicate a clear vision or strategy to their team and be clear about what their expectations are.
One simple but effective way to do this is by using a dashboard that displays team KPIs. This allows every member of the team to stay on track and know what management's expectations are for them. It will enable your team to get the full picture in the company and learn from each other, allowing everyone to improve their performance.
8. Have key technical skills
A good manager is one that has expertise in his field, but a great manager is one that understands that his expertise needs to develop too as things can change quickly.
A great manager may attend conferences, courses and webinars/seminars in order to always stay aware of trends in the industry so he can best advise and lead his team. In this way, your team will quickly implement new innovations, so being proactive will positively change your company’s image as well.
9. Collaborate across departments
Project Oxygen found that a great manager at is one that can participate in cross-department discussions and tasks seamlessly and effectively. Whilst their research was of course based on Google, this principle can be applied to all businesses, regardless of size.
Being able to work well with other teams is a key characteristic of a great manager as it affects the performance of their team. It doesn't matter if the company you work for is a large corporation or a small business. The goal of all departments should be to contribute as much as they can. Overall, it's thought that one of the most important qualities of a good manager is efficient leadership.
Communication between departments is vital in a large business, especially between related departments like sales and customer success or finance and marketing.
10. Be a strong decision-maker
A good manager is one that isn’t afraid to make big decisions.
A great manager is not only a manager that is confident to make big decisions but is also able to explain why they made that decision. A great manager also consults employees before taking decisions that directly impact them; this ties into our comment earlier about the importance of listening to employees. A good manager will not make decisions that are only favorable for themselves but will be able to find a “golden middle way”, between you and your team. Being self-confident in your decisions characterizes a good manager.