Unfortunately, there are a lot of low quality managers out there and we all will have to deal with them at some point in our lives. The key qualities of successful managers are as follows; good work ethic, good sense of justice and fairness, empathetic, available and honest. These management qualities, heck personal qualities, are lacking in today's political, social and working societies. However, if a company is able to find and develop individuals with these qualities they will inevitably have a happier, more productive and sustained workforce. This is the goal. Companies of today that have poor organisation and management will inevitably reach a plateau where their growth is stagnant and the talent is hemorrhaging away on all levels even if the product or service itself is stellar.
Work Ethic : Kings of Delegation Begone
It is imperative to have a manager that has a good work ethic. Most individuals in their working lives will have a supervisor that delegates all of their work to others and is never truly doing any tasks themselves. I can give you true life examples of the type of person I mean. One of my previous bosses was very good at delegating tasks but not very productive himself. He would often get delegated a task by his superiors and then re-delegate that same task to one of his underlings (me). Even if I were overworked and forced to stay late and work long hours he would require this task completed and give a deadline. Later after it was completed by yours truly, the credit would be claimed by my manager. Now this is usually the norm within the relationship from manager to worker but if the underlings are already overworked it is a sign of a great manager if they will absorb these extra tasks AND prioritize existing tasks so that the team will continue to work productively. It also helps with morale if you see that your supervisor is sharing in the workload. If your boss is stressed and you are stressed then there will often be a mentality of 'we are just overworked and stressed'. This builds a group mentality and mutual respect within the workplace. Even if things are bad, individuals won't jump ship as soon because they feel like they are being treated fairly. Often times resentment will build if this group mentality doesn't exist between a manager and their workers. My experience is also proof of this. I found that the uneven workload between worker and manager or even between departments made me and my co-workers resentful towards management or other departments that were perceived as getting preferential treatment. If a manager can share the workload effectively and evenly distribute the workload then this will help to build a group mentality. It will take longer for talented employees to leave the company for other opportunities. The dissatisfied worker(s) will also voice their discontent instead of just handing in their notice if this relationship between manager and worker is developed.
Justice and Fairness : No Preferential Treatment
A fair and just manager is a huge benefit in the workplace. These qualities will allow everyone to feel equal and eliminate perceived preferential treatment. I have experience being managed by someone who had clear favorites and untouchables. Being a manager myself and responsible for certain operations, it becomes very difficult if you are told to do a job and keep things fair but the rules don't apply to x, y, z individuals. For example, I am in charge of monitoring PTO for all employees underneath me. When I first started the job, I noticed a couple individuals had different schedules and would try to take off more time than they were allotted. I brought this up to my manager just to be informed to ignore what these individuals did and just give them the PTO they wanted, as well as, to let them make up their own hours. Now, I consider myself a just and fair manager. I want to keep all things equal and not have to punish one person for an infraction but let another person go unpunished for the same infraction. This creates horrible discord within the workplace and puts me in a situation where I have to treat people unfairly. Within the workplace there was a sense of inter-department resentment. A blame game was played if you will. "Oh its this persons fault that I have to work so hard, or it is this department in general that gets all of the reward and we have to do all of their grunt work." I have to try hard to decrease this mentality and the end result usually falls down to this question, "well this person gets to do this, why can't I?". Employees will work more as a team if they feel equal to one another. The existence of inequalities inevitably results in the buildup of resentment. The result of this resentment will eventually drive talented employees towards seeking employment elsewhere. This is especially true in a company where the sales force is highly rewarded for their work and the benefits (AKA profits) are not shared by all. Often the work horse individuals receive little or no compensation for actually getting the products/services to the customer, where the one who made the sale reaps the lions share of the rewards and the recognition. In order to decrease the inequality, there should be team based rewards in place. This is a great way for the rest of the company to feel like they are benefiting from the overall profitability of the company instead of just a few individuals receiving these rewards. If benefits are felt by all when more sales are made then it will increase the level of team work.
Empathetic : Understand and Help
If a manager has empathy then they will be more understanding of what difficulties one faces with certain tasks. They may not be able to change the situation or the work load but this level of empathy helps workers feel understood. It is as simple as a manager giving you a task like this, "I know that this data entry task is boring and beneath your skill level but I really need you to help me out with this. Would you be able to get this in by end of the day?" vs in this way, "You need to do this data entry work and have it in by the end of the day." These are two totally different ways of assigning a task to an employee. The first way will let the employee know that you have a high regard for their work and that you know the task is mundane. It is also phrased in a manner that gives the employee the feeling that they have a choice even if they truly do not. This subtle difference allows the employee to feel like they are more in control of the situation. The other way of making this request is simply a command without the employee being given a choice. Just giving orders does not build a relationship between management and employees. I have made it a point to be empathetic when I have to delegate certain tasks. I do understand that entering in mountains of mindless data is boring and can become painful. This is why I present the task to them with the understanding that I know it is going to be rough but that it is a necessary evil. I explain to them the tasks significance as well so they have a greater respect for what they are about to do. An example could be entering in prospected customers names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers. I would explain to the employee that this is needed so that the sales team could have a simple format to read when making sales calls and be able to do their task faster. As a manager I have had to make both types of requests and can say from experience that explaining the situation and showing your understanding of the tasks difficulty makes a difference. The task will get done quicker and with a higher level of quality. Simply phrasing requests differently to show that you can empathize with their position and the type of work you are giving them could make all the difference in the world.
Available and Honest : Guidance
It is important for managers to be available to provide guidance and feedback both for new hires and those that have been with a company for a while. Everyone wants to have feedback on their performance and to be recognized for their extra effort. I was hired to be a manager but never truly trained by my supervisor on standard operating procedures. I was immersed immediately into a hectic management atmosphere and had to find my own way. I believe this to be an old way of doing things and should no longer be the standard. If I could have had more guidance I would have made less mistakes and also felt less abandoned and resentful. When someone first starts a job it is necessary to provide them with structure otherwise they will inevitably feel overwhelmed and grow to dislike the company and/or management. It can be especially demoralizing when your manager reprimands you for doing something incorrectly, when they never showed you how to do it correctly in the first place. Hands off management may be good for some work environments but for the vast majority it is inefficient. Why have an employee learn the ropes themselves and take twice as long doing it then to give them guidance in the first place and increase their productivity right away? The other side of availability is being honest with your employees about their performance and about the possibility of promotions. All people are smart and have the ability to think ahead and read between the lines. If you tell an employee they are the best but never give them the promotion or raise they want then they are ultimately going to understand that the company is either cheating them out of what they truly deserve or their efforts truly aren't that spectacular. It is in everyone's best interest for the truth about their performance to be given and the truth behind what can actually be rewarded to them. My resulting interview for a promotion was similar to this sugar coating method. I was told that I am an excellent employee and that I am very intelligent and a key asset to the work force. However, I was not given the promotion and discussion of a raise was pushed off again and again. Of course, I can read between the lines and understand that either there is a problem with my work or that my manager did not want to have to give me a promotion or a raise. This could be that the company did not have enough funds and upper management would not approve a wage increase or simply that my manager thought he could keep costs in his department down to make him look better to upper management. Whatever the case was, I ultimately felt like I was being cheated and began looking for employment elsewhere. As a manager I try to be honest with all employees, as well as, available for their requests and guidance. I will be honest about their performance and issues that I have with what they are doing. I do this continually so that when review time comes there isn't a long list of negatives to dole out right away but most of the time just a list of problems and how that employee resolved them. Resolving issues shows management that you are a capable person and that you have respect for the company and process. I also choose to be honest about the availability of upward mobility and wage increases. This may cause some issues but this level of honesty is always respected and most individuals will understand the circumstances. Again this level of availability and honest feedback builds the manager and employee relationship, which is the ultimate goal.
The end result of having managers with these qualities in a company is a higher level of team work and sustained growth. Poor management will lead to discord, resentment and distrust, which will never create a sustainable workforce. Finding leaders to manage ones employees should be the new standard.