Top 13 Qualities & Characteristics of a Good Manager

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Managers are expected to foster a fun work environment, ensure productivity, inspire employees, and delegate tasks. The list goes on.

Finding an individual who can strike this balance can be challenging, and the consequences of hiring a poor manager come with significant problems. A bad manager is one of the top causes of employee turnover. Recently, a Gallup study found that nearly half of all employees that leave a job do so because of their manager. This proves the impact managers have on an organization, from employee performance and engagement to employee retention.  

Hiring new managers may seem like a daunting task with lots of risks. But thankfully, there are data-backed qualities of a great manager that will help you make the right decisions.  

Characteristics of a Good Manager

In the past decade, the characteristics of a good manager have shifted. Experience and technical skills were once considered required management skills. But today, companies place a greater emphasis on interpersonal skills, such as listening, being flexible, and inviting open communication. 

These soft skills enhance the higher-level characteristics of manager performance, which include building trust, showing empathy, taking responsibility, and investing in employee development. Top Workplaces managers excel at these skills. Let’s take a closer look at the top 13 qualities of a good manager.

1. Transparency

Energage research shows employees at Top Workplaces feel well-informed about important company decisions. Transparent communication is an important culture driver. When managers provide honest, authentic communication, employees feel like a true partner in the business — and more connected as a result. They’re also more likely to align with the company, even when they don’t totally agree with decisions. This creates a sense of value that increases employee engagement

2. Good Communication

Good managers are great communicators. They’re effective at communicating with their employees, and they take the time to listen and understand what’s really happening within the organization. Having managers who are active listeners and genuinely care about employee concerns are qualities of a great workplace that build employee loyalty and performance.

The Top Workplaces National Clued-In Leaders Award recognizes leaders who drive success through impactful communication efforts, value employee feedback, and make decisions that support a people-first culture.   

3. Trust

In a study conducted by SHRM, 61 percent of employees said that trust between senior management and an employee was a significant contributor to job satisfaction. When considering what makes a good manager, building and maintaining trust with employees is paramount to fostering a positive work environment. 

When employees feel they can trust their manager, they also trust the decisions management makes and are dedicated to the organization’s goals and vision as a whole. Managers that do not prioritize trust can lose the respect of their employees, which can have a devastating effect on productivity, loyalty, and ultimately employee turnover. 

4. Empathy

Empathy, a core element of emotional intelligence or EQ, requires managers to connect with employees individually. State of Empathy Workplace study carried out by Businesssolver, 84 percent of CEOs said they believed empathy drove better business outcomes. At the same time, research from the Six Seconds research group found that managers with a high EQ led their companies to a 34 percent higher profit growth than other companies. 

But remember: Empathy is not the same as sympathy. Empathy is all about listening and offering support. It is a superpower that allows managers to be compassionate listeners and fearless leaders who can maintain their employees’ respect, even when they disagree with decisions. 

When considering manager characteristics to shortlist, empathy cultivates more than a healthy employee-manager relationship. Empathy positively impacts workplace culture. Empathetic managers are more successful at leading individuals with different points of view to successful collaboration. 

5. Decisiveness

Characteristics of a good manager are sometimes visible, and decision-making is one of them. Managers who struggle with decision-making erode employee trust and put the company at risk.

Being decisive means making good decisions, not necessarily popular ones. Good managers enable the company to be agile and adaptable, which leads to better business outcomes and continued growth. 

6. Vision

The traits of a good manager include a vision that aligns with the company’s mission and values. Expressing that vision clearly inspires and motivates employees to give their all. Employees who believe in the company’s vision will invest more because they know it will make a difference.

7. Accountability

Good managers are autonomous and require minimal supervision. They’re also accountable for their own mistakes. Good managers practice constructive accountability through their actions and leadership. 

This is important because managers need to instill in others the responsibility of being accountable. Instead of blaming others for mistakes or poor decisions, good managers focus their efforts on actionable ways to get better results moving forward.  

8. Employee development

High-performing companies such as Top Workplaces winners know that unleashing employee potential depends on manager support and development. A great manager is also a coach who takes the time to truly understand their employees’ abilities and interests and then aligns them with the company’s needs. 

Good managers consistently recognize and reward good work, contribute to a happier workplace culture, and provide better business outcomes from improved employee engagement. This can lead to an increase in employee retention. According to one Gallup report, workplaces emphasizing employee strengths increased retention by up to 72 percent in high turnover industries. 

9. Delegation

Knowing how and when to delegate is one of the characteristics of a manager that can help them focus on essential tasks while allowing others to grow and develop. A good manager’s qualities include knowing which tasks to delegate — and then give credit where credit is due. 

These may include:

  • Minor, one-time projects
  • Administrative tasks and preparation for meetings
  • Time management when there are too many jobs with competing deadlines
  • Ongoing, longer-term projects that benefit from consistent ownership
  • Tasks that employees enjoy or have specific knowledge about
  • Onboarding and training of new team members

 

10. Availability

While the ability to lead, delegate, and make quick decisions is critical, when you take a closer look at the characteristics of a good manager, they essentially all boil down to effective communication. 

When managers make themselves available, employees feel heard and valued by the organization. This makes it easier to determine areas that need improvement and take actionable steps to foster a better workplace. 

11. Responsibility

The traits of a good manager include understanding the role each individual plays in the success of the business. This means managers take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their employees. They look for ways to empower their employees and help them develop their skills while becoming more autonomous. 

12. Optimism

Everyone struggles with frustration and negativity from time to time — including managers. But when a team or employee is really struggling, a manager with a negative mindset will do nothing but fan the flames of despair. 

It’s challenging to be motived or excited when you’re around a lot of negativity. Successful managers understand they need to lead by example and infuse their workplace environment with optimism and positive energy in every way possible. 

13. Leadership and being a role model

Leadership is about more than giving out orders or managing a group of individuals. The qualities of a good manager and leader reflect the ability to motivate, inspire, and influence. This means a good leader is also a good role model. Their actions speak louder than words, and they understand the importance and lasting impact of supporting employees in all areas of the organization, from the very bottom to the top. 

Take the first step toward building and branding a company that attracts the right talent. Nominate your company for a Top Workplaces award.