From Mediocre to Marvelous

6 Tips for Making a Megastar Manager

Helen Young-McLaughlin By Helen Young-McLaughlin

Managers make or break organizations.

Managers hire, fire, promote, coach, counsel, discipline, delegate assignments and recognize employees. Beyond those necessary responsibilities, managers play a critical role in employee satisfaction. You’ve heard the saying, “People leave managers, not companies.” Employee engagement, employee retention, and a positive workplace culture are all linked to management.

Consider the following, reported by Tom Rath and Jim Harter in “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.”

  • Employees who feel ignored by their manager have a 40 percent chance of being actively disengaged or hostile about their job.
  • If a manager is paying attention — even if it is to actively critique an employee — the rate of disengagement drops to 22 percent.
  • When managers focus primarily on employee strengths, the rate of disengagement drops to just 1 percent.

Putting the right people in managerial roles and giving them the training, resources and support from the onset is essential for engaged employees and a productive workplace.

6 Tips for Making a Megastar Manager

While everyone is different, the most effective managers have a few things in common. The best managers:

  • Actively listen
  • Build trust
  • Are unquestionably knowledgeable in their field
  • Set goals and clearly communicate expectations
  • Delegate freely/provide autonomy
  • Have a flexible communication style
  • Are approachable and available
  • Have high emotional intelligence
  • Provide recognition genuinely and consistently
  • Build talent through mentoring and training

How can employers ensure their managers develop and consistently demonstrate these behaviors? Here are six tips to get you started:

  1. First and foremost, choose your managers carefully. Not everyone is suited to leadership. A good technician may be perfectly capable of motivating him- or herself to high standards, but is he or she capable of motivating others to do the same? Before you promote an employee to a manager-level position, sit down and have a frank conversation with him or her. Does the employee want to become a manager? Does he or she understand what it takes to become a megastar manager? Does he or she display the traits mentioned above?
  2. When promoting from within, pay special attention to skills gaps. Technical or role-based skills may be critical to the employee’s current role, but what about the equally critical skill set for managing, such as an effective and empowering communication style, the ability to align goals and the capacity to develop relationships? Rather than hiring in a hurry — and potentially overlooking missing skills — begin the hiring/promotion process early to address any deficiencies.
  3. Identify emerging leaders, and help establish their career paths. It’s best to start looking for potential megastar managers before you need to hire a new leader. Identify employees that have leadership potential, and look for ways to help them prepare for an eventual management role. For example, offer leadership training, expose them to different areas of the business and pair them with mentors to hone their leadership skills. This will help your rising stars feel appreciated and set up the organization with a succession plan.
  4. Make sure your managers have current job descriptions in place, as well as metrics and policies to help them consistently and fairly evaluate job performance. This will help managers understand their responsibilities, as well as give them clear-cut standards to hold their employees to — which will enable them to be more effective in their roles.
  5. Create development opportunities for all managers and allow them time away from their day-to-day responsibilities to participate. This might include one-on-one or group coaching, skill-building, or other leadership training programs. Make sure to involve managers directly by asking what skills they’d like to enhance. Track their responses, and determine whether your organization has the internal resources to provide the training, or whether you need to involve outside resources.
  6. Give managers the resources they need. In addition to more formal development opportunities, managers need resources to help them manage day-to-day challenges, such as documenting behaviors/patterns, helping employees get the resources they need, having difficult conversations and keeping employees accountable for their actions. Make sure your managers know where to turn if they encounter a challenging situation.

Fortunately, excellent resources exist for all managers, no matter their level of experience. A good employee assistance program (EAP) can be one of those resources. An EAP can coach managers on day-to-day supervisory activities, as well as assist with leadership development, team building and other organizational development-style programs that help support your megastar management team.

Good managers are crucial to your workplace culture, employee retention and overall employee engagement. When you focus on putting the right people in management roles, and providing them with the training and resources they need, you can have a profound impact on your business.

Do your leaders have everything they need to reach megastar heights? To learn more about how to empower your managers with the training, skills and resources they need to successfully lead employees and boost workplace satisfaction, reach out.

Helen Young-McLaughlin

By Helen Young-McLaughlin, BHS Director, Organizational Development

Helen is passionate about engaging and collaborating with others to create solutions that resonate with each unique organization. Helen's experience as a leader, manager, facilitator and clinician provides insights into both the human and organizational dynamics. She oversees consultants with an array of specialties who promote healthy workplace cultures through mindful practices and effective communication. It begins with listening.