What Makes a Great Manager?

5 simple rules to be an awesome manager

There are books upon books and tons of research on this topic. There are training classes. There are entire graduate programs dedicated to this. But, despite all of this, I would argue that most managers most of the time aren’t very good.

Here is my attempt to simplify how to be a good manager in 5 bullets:

  • Hire great people. Hire with an 80/20 bias towards potential versus existing skills and experiences. People who are growing and developing do better work, are more engaged and more likely to bring novel value. On the flip side, act quickly and decisively when you’ve hired the wrong people. Be clear to your team about why you had to take action and move on
  • Define outcomes, not tasks. Employees who are part of your mission rather than your machinery will work harder, smarter and more efficiently
  • Have your employees back. Be their champion. Of course there are limits, but this should be your default setting and one of your most important roles as a manager. If your employees believe that you’re on their side, they’ll go to the ends of the earth to get the job done. If they don’t trust you and work only to not be punished, they’ll only do enough not to be punished. Part of this is providing them the resources they need to succeed — training, equipment, mentorship
  • Help them improve themselves. The most powerful virtuous cycle of management is to be the manager who gets a reputation for helping people progress in their careers. This will make it easier to recruit and retain the best people. And, you’ll grow with them
  • Be transparent about accountability and communicate regularly. If your employees know what you’re expecting and WHY, they’re much more likely to self-correct, to go the extra mile and to ultimately succeed. Employees who spend alot of their time wondering how they’re doing aren’t very productive. And, when something goes wrong, having a transparent, trusting relationship makes resolving it many times easier, faster and more likely