What makes a good manager?

I recently wrote a post on what made a good salesperson which got me thinking of other positions of importance, and one that really stands out is…what makes a good manager? 
This is something that has affected me personally over the years because I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum, having been unfortunate enough to report in to some pretty poor managers but I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from some that were really great. So what separated the good and the bad?

I’ve interviewed many managers during my time in recruitment and there is a trend that all the good ones have, so I’ve broken these down below.

They look after their team — Good managers have their teams back. It’s easy to agree with the team during one-to-one meetings and appraisals but they need this to carry through when sitting in front of the boss too. Good managers aren’t afraid to speak their mind to the Board Members or Directors and they will defend their team’s ideas and efforts if they are justified — it also works the other way around, if a manager doesn’t agree with their team they will say but it’s about staying consistent and honest with all involved.

They have trust from their team — A good manager will build trust between themselves and their team. They do this in many ways but I think being honest and truthful is key here no matter what the situation or what the consequences are. As soon as the team realise a lie has been told then their trust has been broken forever.

They are clear in communication — When important decisions are being made or critical changes to the organisation, good managers keep their team fully updated, as they believe that being honest and transparent instils trust and demonstrates leadership. Obviously confidential company decisions are different but good managers should always communicate with their team.

They can motivate each team member — A good manager can inspire and motivate their team to raise performance levels, and will go further than a manager that struggles in this area. Sometimes it takes more than standing up in the morning and telling everyone to get on the phone or setting them targets. A good motivator takes time to understand what makes the team members tick, what motivates them as individuals, and then recognises their achievements and inspires them to want to be the best version of themselves.

They are not afraid to get their hands dirty — A true manager is a real leader not just dictating what their staff should or shouldn’t be doing, a real manager will be leading from the front and by example. They shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty for the benefit of the team, understanding that if the team fails it falls on their shoulders too.

They say no — As hard as it may be, a good manager is not afraid to say no. They understand it might not make everyone happy, even if it’s justified. This also applies when new work requests come from Directors that the manager believes cannot (or should not) be passed on to the team.

These are my top points for what makes a good manager, this is not exhaustive by any means as it’s all down to personal views. I believe the right manager in a company of any size is such a critical role for the business to achieve their goals, and the wrong manager could be the difference between success and failure.