Article: 3 things that great managers get right

Life @ Work

3 things that great managers get right

What differentiates a great manager from a bad one?
3 things that great managers get right

Partners seem to get more done, are more successful, and have a better time than singletons plugging along in isolation


How many of us can say that at some point in our career, we have had a great manager? Yes, a few of us. Now think about it, how many of us in our careers have had bad managers? Most of us, nearly all! The important thing to note here is, the role of the manager is critical – 40% actually, if we go by a global research conducted by management guru – Curt Coffman. “Great managers are kind of funny. They focus on developing an individual around who he or she really is versus who he or she is not – which is a very interesting concept,” says Coffman.

Here are three of the most important things that great managers get right.

They build on your strengths

What great managers focus on is growing an individual’s strengths - and not correcting their weaknesses. “A great manager must not only accommodate the fact that each employee is different, he or she must capitalize on these differences,” says Donald O Clifton, a past chairman of Gallup, and chief designer of the Clifton StrengthsFinder Profile.

We’ve all had that traditional performance evaluation – which usually goes a little like this – first five minutes are ‘here is what I love about you’, the remaining 55 minutes are devoted to identifying your areas of opportunity. After that discussion, one seems to know more about who he or she is not, than who he or she is.

“In terms of performance management, I talk about managing people strengths by helping them grow through their strengths. I don’t want to give the message that you ignore the weaknesses – but one must also realize that he or she will probably never be able to change a weakness into a throbbing strength,” adds Coffman.

They promote collaboration

It’s important to have support systems around your weaknesses and great managers focus on harnessing a culture of collaboration. Isn’t a good partnership at work a blessing? Partners seem to get more done, are more successful, and have a better time than singletons plugging along in isolation.

In the book, Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life, Gallup's Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller write, "In the workplace, employees with just one collaborative relationship are 29% more likely to say they will stay with their company for the next year and 42% more likely to intend to remain with their current employer for their entire career, compared to those with no partnerships." Those who are well-partnered are also much more engaged. This culminates into a collaborative culture and increases an employee’s stickiness. It also brings more credibility and respect in the working relationship between the manager who provides for such a partnership, and the reportees.

They don’t forget to say: thank you

This one is from personal experience, and I agree with those who say that a little recognition can go a long way. Many managers forget that their team-members are the reason for their team’s successes, or sometimes failures. There doesn’t need to be an occasion to say ‘thank you’ or ‘great job’. Since recognized employees are happier, and happier workplaces are more profitable, appreciating your people is a win-win.

“Forty-nine percent of managers believe that ‘thank you’ culture increases profit. That should drive every CEO and manager responsible for the bottom line” concurs Ken Makovsky, President and CEO of Makovsky +Company, and a famous blogger on employee engagement.

Also, Jack Welch, the former General Electric chief executive who is famed for his business philosophy of ceaseless, rigorous review and improvement, says he thanked employees on every plant tour and facility visit. "If you don't do it, you don't have a culture. You are just a bunch of bricks and mortar," he says.

In the end, talent is about brain wiring. Those things that employees tend to gravitate towards, look forward to, and get energized by, need to be the calling of a successful people manager. It is really about managers who help in identifying and appreciating what comes most naturally to individuals in their teams. 

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Topics: Life @ Work

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