In my previous blog post I listed certain habits or traits that I believe help to answer "What Makes a Good Developer?". This time I wanted to share my thoughts on what makes a manager a good manager. Over my career I have worked under four different great managers and have been lucky to learn a lot from them. Everyone has their weak sides, but sometimes they were an extension of their merits.
Good manager – is a relative term. Most of the time we don't even realize that we have a good manager until we have a bad manager. I've gathered a list of what I think makes a good manager.
They are a Leader
This doesn't have to be a manager running around with a flag and shouting mottos. A true leader might speak quietly and softly, or doesn't aim to show off. But when they speak you definitely have that strong sense of respect and feel that this is the leader, I want to follow.
Goals in a company, organization or department are the most important sign of having a good manager. The goal can can be anything – earn twice as much money next year, become the most valuable department, keep to strict deadlines this year. As long as it encourages people and it's achieveable – it is a good goal!
Success always comes when a manager and employees share the same values and principles. It even doubles when its a combination of positive values and giving back to the community! My personal top list of core values in good manager is:
- respect others lives and opinions
- keep your word
- rules are for everyone, no exceptions
Yes, a manager can't be all smiles. Managing comes with the necessity of solving complex, negative and unpleasant tasks. But if vast majority of management based on the negative, then it's a sign that not all is good. Managers only spread positive thoughts by doing the job with positive attitude or even humor. Positivity in the manager will serve to keep the team positive. What comes around goes around, right?
Knowledge and Experience
This may be obvious, but it is a key sign of what makes a manager a good one. It is possible that a manager does not understand the industry or know the company on the first stages, everyone has to learn. But a good long-term manager will acquire the knowledge and skills over time.
A good manager gets results. Everyone loves to win! A team is formed when they achieve results together, when they win together. A manager becomes a good one when results are achieved with them, not in opposition. There are also failures. The way a manager learns from and correct mistakes within the team, so that they don't happen again is also a result. Failures are learning experiences, choosing not to learn is not an option to good managers.
Be an Example
Lead by example, this should and hopefully does sound familiar. A good manager performs behaviors others others seek to follow. How they communicate with others, treat customers and what tasks they actually do. Successful people don't just follow examples or leaders because they are told to do so, but because they can learn and grow within their role.
Acknowledge the Team
A Manager isn't just a superstar with some back up dancers, it is actually the opposite. One of the most important jobs a manager has is to make sure they have the right people on the team. Success is the team's success.
Everyone team member has a different personality, has strong and weak sides, as a result you can't manage everyone exactly the same way. A good manager knows and values the unique abilities of team members, and knows how to motivate each member individually. They know how to use their certain skills and fit them to achieve a result. And moreover, they help them to develop weak sides and make strong sides even stronger.
Sense of Reality
Unfortunately, no matter how good manager is, a lot of times that feedback goes unsaid. The danger comes when people put progress or results ahead of the team or one another. The better the results, the higher the risk. That is why many people start loosing touch with what is actually possible. A good manager is always self-critic, has strong self-esteem, and is open to feedback.
All in all, there is no such thing as the perfect manager, but if a manager possesses most of the above traits, this will be a manager that will always have the support and respect of their team and is positioned to be successful. At gap, managers work to emulate these standards, but we know that practice makes perfect. Within the gapMBA program for example, gappers specifically focus on the topic of management whether or not they are currently managing someone. We promote from within and by encouraging professional development at all levels we know we have a strong team ready to step into a management position as gap grows.