12 characteristics of an effective manager

By Robert Half August 21, 2017 at 2:00pm

In any business, your employees are often one of the most important assets. They are responsible for the business functioning on a day-to-day basis. It’s therefore crucial for those in managerial positions to understand their staff and support them. As a result, you can help to maintain happy, hardworking and loyal employees.

Being a perfect manager isn’t always easy. There are many bad leadership mistakes you will need to avoid along the way. However, to help you become an effective manager for your team, here are 12 behaviours and characters you need to ensure you have. If you don’t possess all these qualities right now, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll always be a bad boss.

Not everyone is a born leader, but being aware of these qualities and working hard at them is certainly a key step towards developing your skills as a more effective manager:

1. An effective manager understands the value of employees

Bosses need to appreciate the role employees play in the organisation and the contribution they make daily. By underestimating the effort put in by staff members and the value they add, this can lead to unhappy, demotivated and underperforming staff. It could even lead to a higher staff turnover rate.

2. You express gratitude

An effective manager should always show their appreciation to staff for a job well done. A simple ‘thank you’ can make a big difference to many employees, but where possible, provide positive feedback too. Expressing gratitude can help develop loyalty, boost motivation and productivity within your team.

3. You communicate clearly

It’s important for employees to understand what is expected of them. As an effective manager, it’s your job to communicate clearly with workers on a one-to-one basis, or as a team, to ensure everyone knows what they’re meant to be doing.

4. You listen effectively

As a manager, you need to be able to listen to what your employees have to stay. This could be a work matter, or something more personal. Either way, it’s important you’re available to staff and are willing to listen and support them in any way you can.

5. You make decisions

A team of employees is ready to follow your lead, but they need to be given appropriate direction. Therefore, an effective manager needs to be decisive. Otherwise, your staff may find themselves left without knowing what to do next.

6. You trust your employees to achieve

Good managers break down projects into more manageable chunks and delegate according to the team’s strengths. However, to delegate work, you need to trust that your workers can handle important tasks. An effective manager doesn’t micromanage, but instead, takes a step back and trusts staff to do a good job.

7. You resolve conflicts

Sometimes, it is necessary for managers to be a good mediator, particularly if two members of the team have fallen out or just cannot see eye to eye. For the sake of overall performance and productivity, it is important to resolve such situations quickly and effectively before they spiral out of control.

8. You get to know your employees

An effective manager should take the time to get to know employees better. Find out what their key motivators are and what they really value in their job. If you find out that an employee wants to ascend the leadership ladder, you may be able to provide a mentor or training. Others may be looking for more flexible hours, a different seating arrangement or improved equipment to be able to do their job more efficiently. By finding this out you can create more motivated employees and improve the overall work environment.

9. You set a good example

Employees are looking for somebody they can look up to, and aspire to emulate. Strong team leaders are ethical, honest, collaborative, creative, empowering, innovative, dedicated, and trustworthy.

10. You're transparent

Being open and transparent is part of setting a good example. If employees believe they are being misled, or information is being withheld, this can lead to a breakdown of trust and undermine the employer/employee relationship.

11. You're a high achiever

For employees to respect what you have to say and trust your judgement, they need to feel you have the skills and knowledge required to do the job. Don’t just sit in your office and hide away. Show that you can lead a team effectively. Get stuck in when needed and always be there when your team needs you.

12. You stay one step ahead of everyone else

Of course, as a manager, it’s important to always stay slightly ahead of others in terms of knowledge, maturity and confidence. Therefore, to be an effective manager, make sure you never stop growing, learning and developing your character.

A great manager is part strategist, part coach, part counsellor and part tactician. Managing people takes a diverse range of skills, but aspiring leaders can acquire them – and these efforts will be richly rewarded. You may not have what it takes just yet, but you can get it.

These 12 points are certainly a good starting point and will set you in good stead to become an effective manager when the time comes.

This article originally appeared as People Management: What Makes an Effective Manager? on the UK Robert Half blog.

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