6 Traits of Successful Managers and How to Identify them when Recruiting

Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units, according to Gallup. Let that sink in for a minute… at least 70%. That means that managers are the single most important factor in impacting employee engagement, either positively or negatively. Therefore, it is critical that your organization conducts research around identifying talented leaders and developing the ones already in place.

Here are some things to consider:

It All Starts with Hiring the Right Talent

Another Gallup study found that companies are actually missing the mark on hiring high managerial talent in 82% of their hiring decisions. Clearly hiring managers isn’t easy. There are a lot of contributing factors to this, mainly great leaders being hard to come by, but there are ways of identifying great candidates and discovering if they’re the right fit before making the final decision.

If many companies are missing the mark, could you be as well?

What Traits Define a Great Manager?

This is a question that people have been trying to answer for the better part of a century. If you search online there is no shortage of books, articles and theories as to what makes a manager great. But even with so many theories, no one has truly defined what it takes to be a successful leader. That’s because there’s been an evolution, since the industrial revolution, of leadership theory. Every few decades as society advances, people come up with new strategies to manage people and define leadership. Because it’s constantly changing, we’ve compiled the theories, definitions and traits that have stood the test of time.

6 Traits of a Successful Manager:

  1. They motivate every single employee to take action. Remember that people aren’t simple-minded beings who only show up at 8 and clock out at 5. They have complex emotions and for that reason, they are motivated differently from their peers. An amazing leader has the ability to hone-in and identify what it is about each of their employees that gets them excited and passionate about what they do, helping them become successful along the way. This is essential to successful people management.

  2. They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and a solution-first mindset. There is no shortage of problems in the world. Every week we encounter new issues that stand in the way of success. When these problems surface, people often express their frustration and end up venting to anyone that will listen. This negativity displays a weakness that we have in the face of these problems. When we focus on how unfair a situation is, problems end up creating more issues and challenges remain unconquered. Successful managers get excited when a problem is presented to them. Rather than getting caught up in something that may be unfair, they have the ability to develop team-based solutions to influence productivity and morale.

  3. A true manager can create a culture of clear accountability. It’s important to know that accountability doesn’t mean that people are afraid that they’re going to fail. In fact, it often means the opposite. People want to be accountable when they’re under a great leader because they want to make them proud. The right manager will push people to take responsibility for the good along with the bad.

  4. An amazing manager builds relationships that create trust, open dialogue and full transparency. If employees feel as if they must hide information or performance results from their managers, then that leader has a lot of work to do. Without trust, open dialogue and full transparency organizations get bogged down in office politics.

  5. A great manager makes decisions. This might be the hardest thing on the list, along with the most obvious. The higher a manager gets in an organization, the harder decisions become. If managers can’t make definitive decisions and stick to the plan, campaigns and other long-term projects get drawn out and become that much more expensive to the organization.

  6. They are passionate, yet humble. It’s not about feeding their ego. A humble leader cares about lifting their people up and ensuring their employees’ success not just their own.

job-candidates-waiting

How to Uncover Management and Leadership Qualities During an Interview

So, this is a pretty lengthy and powerful list. How on Earth are you supposed to uncover all that in a 30- to 60-minute interview?

For starters, it’s critical to remember that not everyone is great at interviewing. It’s also important that you pass along a few tips and tricks to the team before interviewing a candidate. Encourage them to ask for specific scenarios of where the candidate overcame adversity, had to rally a team, or fixed a project headed in the wrong direction. This helps uncover that an individual is not afraid to talk about situations where they may have failed or faced difficult challenges. It’s not only that they aren’t afraid to talk about failure but that they are able to learn from those situations and can fail forward. These questions will help clue you in on their humility.

It might be obvious or cliché to ask a candidate about their management style, but when you read between the lines, it can really tell you a lot. Listen for words and phrases that might indicate that they have an unhealthy ego or a micro-management style. Do they consistently use the word “I” or do they focus on how they’ve helped their past teams succeed? Do they say they don’t micromanage just because that seems like the right thing to say during an interview? Or do they actually provide examples that illustrate their ability to listen and observe first and then push to empower the team. And finally, when thinking about interviewing this candidate or hiring them do not rely on the interview alone. Have they been referred on LinkedIn? What’s at the core of those referrals? Do they seem genuine? Social media is a great tool to gauge a candidate’s true personality not just their interview persona.

The Progression to Management

More often than not, managers are usually promoted internally. We discussed at the beginning of this article that most people don’t possess the skills of being a great leader. Yet, in most organizations, progressing in your career means that one day you will become a manager. The problem with this is that everyone wants and deserves to grow, but not everyone is cut out to be an amazing leader. Consider this: you could have two different career paths so that give employees an opportunity to grow and learn. At the onset, junior level associates need to learn key skills and traits to be successful in their careers. As they’re learning those key skills, start to have conversations with them about whether they aspire to be to be a manager or if they want a path that will allow them to refine and improve their skill set to truly become a subject matter expert. Most people will probably default to that manager path because it’s really what has been ingrained into all of us as a definition of success, but we strongly encourage you to allow them to see the opportunity and the need for subject matter experts within your organization. This will allow you to help them craft a career path around whichever path is right for them.

Intrigued? Get our Career Development Guide for more tips on creating an engaged workforce.


Subscribe to Our Resource Center Digest

Enter your email below to receive a weekly recap of the latest articles from Paycor's Resource Center.

Check your inbox for an email confirming your subscription. Enjoy!