You know what they say: people leave bosses, not jobs. And the opposite is also true. “People will often stay for a great boss and the Great Resignation is a testament to that. People are leaving based on low pay, low growth potential, and poor leadership, yet a great manager can make all the difference,” says executive coach Carole Stizza, who has over 20 years of experience in the world of HR.
But being a good manager that people want to work for is a timeless skill regardless of job market trends. And if you want to retain your employees, it’s important to think like a leader–not just a manager. “Managers are often taught to push for results, yet great leaders are credited for their pull as they empower people to meet new challenges and grow. A great manager understands both,” says Stizza.
Traits and skills of good managers
“There are several qualities a great manager will have that are often overshadowed by performance metrics, client satisfaction, or sales deadlines,” she adds. While those factors are important, they won’t keep your people around. Here are some crucial traits and skills to cultivate.
“Time-management is key for keeping track of projects and being able to support team members’ progress along the way,” says Stizza.
Chaotic, disorganized environments can send the best employees looking for another job. Being able to break down projects into manageable parts and successfully delegate and support your team as they execute work is an important part of good management. And so is facilitating effective meetings. “Meetings are also an area to set an example of respecting people’s time with setting agendas and making sure decisions are made.”
2. Growth mindset
If you want your team to grow, you must be willing to grow first. And your top performers will appreciate an environment where they can keep challenging themselves and get out of their comfort zone too.
“Great managers not only stay on top of their own growth by making time to read, attend industry conferences, and invest in professional development, but they also are aware of growth opportunities that will help develop their people,” according to Stizza.
Trust is the glue that keeps a team together in the long run. As a manager, you must build trust with your reports, but you also need to show it. Stizza says trust is built when you are humble and not afraid to admit when you are wrong or you don’t know something. It’s also about avoiding micromanagement at all costs:
“Micromanaging sends the message of a lack of trust faster than anything else. Delegating work, giving stretch assignments, and setting the expectations that people will come for help when needed provides space vital for trust to grow.” On the other hand, checking in with people to control every aspect of their work “marginalizes talent,” she says.
“It sends the message that you don’t trust them to do their job and it makes the manager look insecure and small. This reduces motivation and suffocates creativity, autonomy, and a desire for employees to stay.”
Even if you’re super organized, love to grow, and trust comes easy for you, you’ll still need strong communication skills to be a good manager.
“This is the most important skill in leading others,” says Stizza. Giving feedback, providing context, and being specific are examples of the communication skills of good managers in action. “Communicating effectively includes offering better feedback by including details such as the context of when the actions made a difference, and how those actions affected the outcome.”
But communicating well also means asking questions and listening. It’s a two-way street, and managers who retain their team members understand that.