The 10 Behaviors That Make a Manager GREAT

| By Terence Brake

Google identified the top behaviors displayed by great managers.

1. Is a Good Coach

All employees need and appreciate a manager who takes time to coach and challenge them; not just the low or average performers, but also the stars.

2. Empowers the Team and Does Not Micromanage

Google found that its best managers offer a balance of freedom and advice.  Micromanaging discourages and frustrates employees.   Great managers show they trust their direct reports.

3. Creates an Inclusive Team Environment Showing Concern for Success and Well-Being

It’s not enough just to have a diverse team, good leaders and managers strive to create an inclusive environment every day.  This reflects Google’s research on psychological safety – an environment that allows for risk-taking - and unbiasing – the process of becoming aware of and combatting unconscious biases.

4. Is Productive and Results-Oriented

Employees can’t be expected to give their best work unless the manager is doing the same.  The leader sets the tone by being a productive role model.

5. Is a Good Communicator – Listens and Shares Information

Great managers prioritize listening.  Listening that is focused and curious communicates an emotional and personal investment in people.  It signals that people are valued.

6. Supports Career Development and Discusses Performance

Google cited research from Gallup that found only half of employees know what is expected of them at work.  Managers should set clear expectations, hold employees accountable for meeting them, and respond quickly when employees need support.  Feedback about performance should be honest.

7. Has a Clear Vision/Strategy for the Team

Stephanie Davies, who won one of Google’s Great Manager Awards said that her people wanted her to interpret the higher-level vision for them – “I didn’t just come back to the team with what was said; I also shared what it meant for them.”

8. Has Key Technical Skills to Help Advise the Team

This doesn’t mean the manager needs as deep (or deeper) technical expertise as team members.  The great manager is honest about what he or she knows and doesn’t know.  They recognize and respect their employees’ knowledge, and learn from them, while demonstrating their complementary managerial skills.

9. Collaborates Across the Organization

The great manager understands that managing a team and leading it to success depends in part on collaborating well with other teams, for the collective benefit of the company.

10. Is a Strong Decision Maker

While it is important for a manager to listen and share information, the great manager is also one who can make decisions.  They tell their team not only what decision they have made, but also why they have made it.  This provides employees not only with priorities, but important context for when they need to make decisions.  

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