The characteristics of a good manager

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We’ve all heard the phrase 'people leave managers, not companies', but this can easily be avoided. So how do you, as a manager, ensure you are constantly building strong and supportive relationships with your team?

According to the independent Employee Engagement Task Force, backed by the government department of Business Innovations and Skills, only a third of UK employees say they are actively engaged at work, with over 20 million workers not delivering their full capability.

Engage for Success

These statistics are worrying, with wider research showing that engagement levels worldwide are averaging at about 13%. It's easy to bury your head in the sand rather than commit to tackling such complex issues like employee engagement, but this is a problem that won’t go away by itself. If low engagement levels are left to fester, they will continue to decline throughout the year; this is one business issue that leaders can’t be complacent about.

Although there are a mix of factors that make up employee engagement, manager-employee relationship is said to be a leading cause of employee disengagement, so should be a particular focus for organisations. It should be obvious - most of us spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our friends and family members, in fact, for someone in a full time role, that’s an average of 2000 hours spent with co-workers in a year. That’s a lot of time, and highlights the priority of the case for building positive relationships with the people you work with. When you look at it like this, it is clear why employees who are unhappy with their relationships at work are more likely to leave for greener pastures.

At Thomas, we see engagement as a win-win situation. When our people have a positive attitude towards their role and our organisation, they are more productive, have less absence, and are more likely to learn, all of which helps our company to be successful, improve our bottom line and be a happy place to work.

We use our tools to help us truly understand our people as individuals to allow us to tailor how we approach employee engagement. In 2015 at Thomas, we were extremely proud to win the Best Companies 2 Star Accreditation in the 'outstanding' category, and also to be ranked in the top 5 of the Financial Times/Glassdoor Best Places to Work in Finance and Consulting. We know that this was a result of our high levels of employee engagement, stemming from a culture of being genuinely interested in our people.

We use the Thomas Engage model, which measures the strength and quality of relationships through two drivers:

  • Togetherness – People need to feel valued as members of the group. They need safety, trust and support, and cooperative, friendly relationships.
  • Voice – People need to feel accepted, that their opinions are valued and acted upon and that others listen to and respect what they have to say.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘people leave managers, not companies’, but this can easily be avoided. So how do you, as a manager, ensure you are constantly building strong and supportive relationships with your team?

Perhaps a good place to start is looking at what makes a good manager in the eyes of an employee? As a manager, you have an important responsibility in fostering employee engagement. This presents itself in how you enable your employees to do their work, how you conduct yourself, and how you, as a role model, convey messages through different channels.

Characteristics of a good manager: 

  1. Communicates performance expectations clearly to everybody involved
  2. Gives employees access to the resources they require to do their job right
  3. Frees people up to make a difference by focusing on what they do best
  4. Recognises team members for their contributions and efforts
  5. Makes everybody feel cared about as an individual
  6. Helps people feel like they have a meaningful participation at work
  7. Encourages employees to grow and develop 
  8. Gives employees responsibility and trusts them to get on with the task

It's true that employees who are well managed can forgive many shortcomings, (after all, none of us are perfect!), and this arises from a strong relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

What next?

Questions to consider:

  • What processes and procedures does your organisation have in place to capture the ideas and opinions of your staff?
  • How do staff currently exercise their voice?
  • What does the organisation do to promote trust, togetherness and teamwork both within and across teams?
  • Do managers receive effective training in developing leadership and management skills?
  • Do managers generally take the time to ‘get to know’ their people?
  • Does your organisation currently encourage and reward togetherness?

Finally, some food for thought:

Peter Drucker, famous for putting the right people into the right enterprises all over the world, once said:

 I always ask myself, would I want one of my children to work under that person? If he is successful, then young people will imitate him. Would I want my son or daughter to look like this?

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

As CEO, Martin is a hands on business leader who is driven to help Thomas and its clients to thrive. He is a true visionary who has delivered business success through innovation for over 25 years. He enjoys trying out new ideas, projects and business ventures. Martin is an avid golfer and when the opportunity presents itself, you’ll find Martin out water-skiing.