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What Character Traits Make a Great Manager?
Ensuring that you place efficient and qualified managers on your team is crucial to its overall success. Your managers play an integral bridge role between more junior employees and the team's tactical executions and senior leadership and the company's organizational strategy. Very often, however, managers are vetted solely by objective factors, like total revenue generation or hard skill knowledge, while interpersonal skills and managerial strategies take a back seat. This results in managers that increase employee departure rates, hurt overall team productivity and serve as stop gaps for overall team production. When placing a new manager, it's important to focus not just on objective skills knowledge, but also the softer character traits that ultimately make the difference between a good manager and a great one. Whether you are promoting from within or hiring externally, it's important to look for not just technical knowledge, but specific character traits that will ensure your hire will be a truly great manager.
An Ability to Teach
Good managers exhibit mastery over their trade knowledge and demonstrate a willingness to continuously learn and grow their trade. A great manager has the ability to distill their skill sets into ways that are teachable and digestible. As your managers grow in capability and knowledge, you'll want them to be able to share their expertise with more junior team members. While some skill siloing on a team is normal, concentrating knowledge solely on one individual spells disaster for the team as a whole if that individual decides to leave. A manager that can effectively and confidently train their reports only makes the team operate stronger as a whole.
Conversely, great managers are experts in everything that their direct reports are. If any gaps exist, they have the initiative to seek out that knowledge and build a stronger skill foundation. In the event a junior team member leaves, a great manager can cover the role with little to no interruption in team production quality.
A good manager will serve as a representative for your department within your organization. A great manager will proactively work with other members of the company to build relationships and find ways to strategically partner together. Great managers know their audiences and know how best to interact with each one. Whether it's a direct report, a vendor or your company's CEO, great managers are comfortable and capable of professionally expressing themselves in each situation.
Conflicts at work are inevitable at every level, but it is your manager's job to mediate these among the mid and lower ranks of your team. Empathy and strategic problem-solving in a person are the routes to success here, and Although your manager may be technically savvy, if they are incapable of resolving the types of conflicts that arise from the day-to-day management of a team, you'll quickly find yourself playing firefighter to scenarios which shouldn't require your attention.
Great managers possess a self-awareness of their role that allows them to know exactly how their role and their team operate in the greater organizational structure. Great managers can provide recommendations and ideas that address the needs of all levels of the team. Knowing when and how to delegate is crucial for team success. Very often some managers take on more workload than is necessary with an "it'd take me longer to show you" mindset. This not only hurts their stress levels but positions the team's productivity focus on one individual. This results in a localization of production and keeps the manager from managing-- reviewing deliverables, working towards macro-level strategies and nurturing direct reports.
Along with technical skills, emotional intelligence is highly important to maximize a manager's efficiency. It has been stated many times that employees do not quit jobs, but managers. A great manager can interface with a variety of personalities and seamlessly balance the roles of teacher, supervisor, and partner with their reports. Effective strategies in workload and stress management help ensure that even when the manager is feeling the pressure that they won't impart that negativity onto the rest of the team.
In summation, great managers exhibit character traits that help them empower their teams, collaborate with other departments and contribute positively to organizational growth. By having structures in place to manage workloads and stress, great managers can ensure that they and their teams embody a flexibility that allows them to handle a variety of task. Sheer technical know-how is not an indicator of managerial success. Organization, empathy, and an understanding of organizational structures will help a truly great manager stand heads and shoulders above their peers.