Qualities of a Good Manager

A manager can make or break an employee’s experience. Some employees have even left their jobs to get away from their manager. On the other hand, having a strong manager is known to produce more engagement, increased productivity, and higher brand loyalty. What makes a great leader and how do you become a better manager? While this definition may vary depending on the individual, there are key qualities of a good manager that every strong leader needs to have or do.

1. Be a role model.
As a leader, it’s important to lead by example. Demonstrate the behaviors and performance standards you want your team to adopt. This is a step toward reinforcing the core values of the organization.

2. Be Trusting.
Everyone knows that trust is an important component of any strong relationship. It’s no different when it comes to the relationship between an employee and their manager. While challenging to develop, there’s a reason why trustworthiness is one of the most important traits of a good manager and is often linked to employee job satisfaction. You can build trust by listening to your staff members, giving employees the space to make mistakes, encouraging them to learn new skills, take on new challenges, or seek solutions, and not micromanage their work.

3. Be Empathetic.
Once upon a time, a manager’s only role was to play “boss”. But times have changed, and organizations today are focused on building strong relationships, to increase retention, and drive employee engagement. That’s why some of the best manager qualities include having compassion and empathy. These characteristics of a manager can facilitate productive conversations, encourage employees to be honest, and lead to a more positive culture. If you’re not naturally empathetic, don’t worry! Studies have shown that empathy can be learned. It is a muscle that has the ability to be strengthened.

4. Be Goal and Outcome Driven.
While the people management skills of leadership are incredibly important, characteristics that help move the business forward – such as being goal-driven – are crucial as well. Without the ability to propel a team toward a shared objective, managers can inadvertently lead their team in the wrong direction or waste valuable resources. Not to mention that a lack of focus will ultimately set employees up for failure, or worse, hinder their development. Processes are important and there are many ways work can be accomplished so a focus on results and outcomes is a quality of a good manager that needs to be reinforced.

5. Be Motivating.
Employees are human beings. They have good and bad days, as well as periods of high and low periods of productivity. That’s why one of the best leadership qualities is the ability to inspire and motivate others. There are various ways managers can help their employees get out of a rut or prevent employee burnout in the first place, especially giving recognition when and where deserved. Whether it’s sending a heartfelt ‘thank you’ note, providing a gift, or kinds words of praise, all of these forms of demonstrating employee appreciation will see a positive impact on engagement.

6. An Effective Communicator.
Managers, more than anyone else in an organization, need to be strong communicators to deal with the diverse situations they’re exposed to. They have the responsibility to share information up and down the organization. It is also part of their job responsibility to provide regular positive and constructive feedback to their employees. If a manager is indirect, long winded, and strikes the wrong tone during a performance review or weekly check in, it impacts employees negatively. They may walk away from a conversation unsure of the takeaways or without a clear picture of where they stand.

7. Be Composed.
Life happens. Deadlines are missed, mistakes are made, and customers complain. One of the qualities of a good manager is the ability to maintain a cool head while leading their team through obstacles. The worst thing a leader can do is panic and take out their stress on employees. This type of toxic behavior can make employees afraid to fail, come forward, or open up, which impacts rapport in the relationship and ultimately affects productivity and the bottom line.

8. Be Supportive.
A supportive manager plays a critical role in the career development of their employees. Being supportive means being able to listen to what your employee really wants (and needs, while not making assumptions), identifying how they can move in growth directions and providing the resources or guidance (mentoring) they need to succeed. With these people management skills, employees will feel a real workplace connection and that their manager genuinely cares about them as individuals, but they’re also likely to perform better if they’re doing work that matters to them. A report by Harvard Business Review also found that 9 out of 10 people are even willing to take a pay cut for meaningful work, which again demonstrates why supportive manager qualities are so important.

9. Be Open-Minded.
Managers work closely with individuals who come into the organization with diverse backgrounds and different ways of thinking and doing things. Instead of shying away from the challenges that come with working with people who differ from each other, embrace them and focus on developing one of the qualities of a good manager: the ability to learn from others and be open-minded. By welcoming new ideas to the workplace and thoughtfully considering people’s perspectives, managers will be able to connect with employees on a deeper level and the business will see additional benefits like more innovation and increased revenue.

10. Be A Critical Problem Solver.
With our ever-evolving business landscape, leaders who are able to identify problems and develop solutions are able to make better decisions and lead their employees to success and navigate the challenges of daily activities and needs of moving the operation forward.

So is this you? Do you have these qualities? How do these qualities measure up against your existing supervisor and manger base? Perhaps these qualities are not a “10” just yet, and that’s okay. The good news is that it’s never too late to start developing the skill sets. It is a new year and a good time to start strengthening them. HR Answers’ Success for Supervisors Series begins February15th and these skills, among others, will be part of the curriculum and there will be time dedicated to practicing them and looking for feedback. Click here to learn more.

Looking for previously written Advantage eNewsletters or HR ALERTS?

Setting the Stage in 2024: Navigating HR Successfully and Avoiding Common Pitfalls

What if you could anticipate and avoid your next HR debacle? Kicking off the new year in a good space is a great place to be a leave you breathing easier.

In the realm of Human Resources, steering clear of potential pitfalls is paramount for any business. The repercussions of outdated policies and inadequate documentation can significantly impact an organization’s trajectory. Are you confident in the current state of your employee handbook? Do your policies address every essential aspect? These questions often indicate areas prone to HR issues, whether it’s in hiring, firing, employee documentation, or other critical areas vital to an organization’s growth.

To assist in fortifying your proactive approach to managing HR policies and procedures, we offer these suggestions containing key areas from our professional experts to enlighten you on the most frequent HR mistakes and how to circumvent them effectively.


The Outdated Employee Handbook: An outdated handbook can lead to costly errors and challenges with employee experiences, communications, and meeting expectations. Whether you have an outdated employee handbook or none at all, take a look at what you may want to include:

  • Social media guidelines
  • Communications policy
  • Statement of company culture
  • Nondiscrimination policy
  • Anti-harassment policy
  • Attendance policy
  • Professional conduct expectations
  • Code of ethics
  • Safety guidelines

Employee handbooks can help small businesses avoid misunderstandings and minimize their risks regarding employment-related lawsuits and claims. These claims often stem from inconsistent treatment of employees or a lack of clarity in policies and procedures.

Handbooks that outline policies and guidelines not only provide expectations for employee conduct, it also creates a framework to guide management and leadership – helping to ensure policies are enforced appropriately and evenly across departments.

Documentation Essential for Performance-Based Termination: Understand the criticalness of proper documentation and the steps involved in a corrective action policy to mitigate risks.

Having candid conversations with employees who aren’t performing well isn’t easy. But documenting those employee performance conversations is important, especially when terminating the employee is the result of continued poor performance. What you need is a corrective action policy. While it provides employees with an opportunity to improve their performance, it also can support decisions to terminate or demote that employee. If you don’t have the documentation that shows a pattern of poor performance, small businesses may open themselves to liability issues such as a wrongful termination or discrimination complaint. General steps to follow in a include:

  1. Verbal warning – Discuss the specifics of the employee’s poor performance. It is a verbal warning, but it should still be documented and put in the employee’s personnel file.
  2. Written warning – Meet with the employee and a member of HR. Give written information detailing how the employee hasn’t performed, the impact the lack of performance has had, the expected course of action and consequences of noncompliance. This is signed by all meeting attendees.
  3. Final warning – Similar to the written warning meeting, but with the condition that any further performance issues will result in termination. Signed by all attendees.
  4. Termination – This is a meeting where you notify the employee of termination. Provide a written, dated document that goes over final pay, collecting any company issued property and permitting the employee to collect personal items.

Effective Employee Data Management: Gain insights into the proper handling of sensitive employee data and the significance of maintaining meticulous records in compliance with regulations.

Employee records and human resources administration can seem time-consuming. But proper employee recordkeeping can help keep you in compliance with regulatory agencies.

Oftentimes, employee records include sensitive information such as:

  • Driver license number
  • Passport copy
  • Social Security number
  • Bank account information
  • Health or medical information
  • Personal contact information

Mishandling this information ranks high among bad HR practices. Managed improperly and releasing it to the wrong people could put an employee at risk and your company in hot water. You’ll need to have protocols in place for collecting, storing, and maintaining sensitive employee information.

Something to note: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, medical information must be kept confidential and separate from other personnel information.

In addition to having a secure system, employers should conduct audits of employee files to ensure they are thorough and up to date.

Items to keep in an employee’s personnel file:

  • Job application
  • Resume
  • Benefits enrollment papers
  • Background check information
  • Offer letter
  • W-4
  • ADA paperwork
  • Drug-testing consent and results
  • Personal or family medical leave (FMLA) information
  • Doctors’ notes
  • Workers’ compensation documentation
  • Employee reviews
  • Counseling documentation
  • Training records
  • Confidentiality or noncompete agreements
  • Employee handbook acknowledgement

Employees should also have sufficient and easy access to their own data and files.

Modernizing Interview and Hiring Processes: Discover key considerations and questions to ask during interviews to ensure a successful hiring process.

Your interviewing and hiring process need to be deliberate, purposeful, and consistent.

Here are some factors to consider when hiring:

  • Skills – Does your new hire possess the basic technical skills to carry out the job functions? What essential business (soft) skills, such as negotiating, persuading, or emotional intelligence do they have?
  • Job experience – What is their job experience? How has what they’ve done in the past going to benefit your business in the future? How much training will they need?
  • Education – Do they have the education necessary to perform the duties of the position?

Team relationship: Can they work alongside others, if needed, to reach a common goal? Are they in alignment with the team, the department, and the organization (culture vision, mission and core values)?

In the interview, asking questions that can help you spot potential red flags is key to a successful hire.

Topics you may want to consider covering in the interview process:

  • Adaptability
  • Customer service
  • Dependability
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Judgment

Of course, there are also the off-limits areas such as:

  • age, religion, illness, disabilities, weight, children, etc.

Importance of Job Training: Explore the necessity of continuous training and development for employee growth within the organization.

For employees to grow, they’ll likely need professional development somewhere along the way. Training and development can range from helping employees develop skills (Excel or Word classes) to providing tools and training to become a great leader. Unfortunately, lack of job training is among “missed” opportunities for HR and business.

Training begins when an employee joins your team in the onboarding process. Proper onboarding training sets the right expectations and can prevent issues later. You’ll want to introduce your organization culture, mission, vision, and expectations.

Within your workforce, you might also find employees you want to develop into the next leader. One BIG mistake businesses make is promoting individuals without adequate management training. You can’t just take that outstanding employee and drop them into a leadership role. Here are some skills you’ll want to impart:

  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Team building
  • Coaching and visioning
  • Negotiation

Clarity in Policies: Identify often-overlooked policies such as vacation payout, complaint filing, and disaster response that are crucial for a well-defined framework.

Clearly defined HR policies are fundamental to your success. They protect your business and educate employees about what is expected. Here are several policies that may slip through the cracks when you’re developing yours.

Social Media Usage: With the widespread use of social media, employees may not always be aware of the company’s policies regarding their online presence. Guidelines for appropriate online behavior, disclosure of company information, and representing the company on social media platforms are important.

Use of Company Resources: Policies related to the use of company property, equipment, and resources may be overlooked. Guidelines on using company computers, phones, and other assets for personal use should be clearly communicated to prevent misuse.

Conflict Resolution Procedures: Employees may not be familiar with the procedures for resolving conflicts within the workplace. HR policies related to reporting grievances, harassment, or other interpersonal issues should be well-documented and easily accessible.

Emergency Evacuation Procedures: Employees should be aware of evacuation routes, assembly points, and emergency exits in case of natural disasters, fire, or other emergencies. Regular drills can help reinforce these procedures.

Disaster Communication Protocols: Clear communication channels during a disaster are essential. Employees should understand how information will be disseminated in emergencies, including the use of company communication systems, emergency contact information, and any designated emergency communication personnel.

Compliance with Employment Laws and Regulations: Understand the essential areas and agencies in employment law compliance to avoid potential legal liabilities and penalties.

Keeping up with employment laws can be overwhelming for HR and small business owners. But ignoring HR compliance and employer liability can lead to costly litigation and penalties. Here are some key areas and agencies where keeping track of employment laws and regulations is essential.

  • FLSA: The Fair Labor Standards Act gives employees basic rights and wage protections, including specifications on federal minimum wage, job classifications and overtime requirements.
  • OSHA: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets and enforces standards for safe working conditions and provides training, education, and assistance to support those standards.
  • IRS: Conforming with Internal Revenue Service regulations includes items such as filing business taxes and reporting annually the health coverage offered to full-time employees.
  • Department of Labor: The Wage and Hour Division is the primary enforcer of FLSA provisions related to worker classification. Dependent on industry and state-specific generally speaking, nonexempt employees must receive overtime for any hours worked beyond a 40-hour workweek. Overtime pay cannot be less than 1.5 times their regular pay. If you are audited, misclassifying employees can be a costly mistake. Please double check your state and industry specific (of course you can always call our consultants for clarification too).

By learning from these mistakes and implementing best practices, your organization can safeguard itself against potential setbacks and forge a path toward sustained success.

Maintaining Holiday Balance And Avoiding ‘Holidaze’ Stress

The holiday season is upon us, and for HR professionals and business owners, it often brings a unique set of challenges. Balancing work demands, employee well-being, and the desire to celebrate this festive time can sometimes lead to stress and burnout. It’s crucial to find ways to maintain that delicate equilibrium and avoid succumbing to the ‘holidaze.’ Here are some strategies to consider:
1. Do it Your Way:
The holidays should be a time of joy, not stress. Don’t let the commercialized frenzy dictate how you celebrate. Choose what resonates with you and your team, not what the retail calendar dictates. The holidays are about your values and traditions, not the number of shopping days left.
2. Keep it Simple:
Tradition is important, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Simplify your holiday plans, reduce the pressure, and focus on what truly matters. You don’t have to attend every event or buy extravagant gifts. Sometimes, the most cherished moments come from simple acts of togetherness.
3. Be an Angel to Yourself:
Don’t forget to put yourself first. Self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary. If you’re not at your best, it’s challenging to support your team effectively. Prioritize self-care and value your time. Learn to say no when needed to avoid family conflicts.
4. Sustain Your Exercise Regimen:
Amid the hustle and bustle, don’t neglect your physical health. Maintain your exercise routine, even if it’s a short walk or a quick meditation. These moments of self-care can alleviate stress and help you better enjoy the holidays.
5. Find Intentional Moments:
Create spaces of tranquility amid the chaos. Reflect on the deeper meaning of the season in a quiet corner adorned with holiday decor. Meditate, play soothing music, or simply flip through old greeting cards and photos for a moment of self-reflection.
6. Give Yourself “Holiday Cushions”:
Plan your days with extra time in between tasks to reduce stress. Learn to say no to overwhelming requests and take breaks when needed. The holidays are about enjoying, not rushing.
7. Get Ahead of Job Stress and Burnout:
Know your limits and don’t push yourself to the brink. Avoid unrealistic deadlines and spread your work tasks over manageable timeframes. Start your day with a few peaceful moments and set boundaries to safeguard your personal time.
8. Balance Activity and Rest:
Remember that self-care is essential during the holidays. Combine physical activity with moments of restorative rest to maintain your well-being. A brisk walk followed by a short meditation can help manage stress and keep you in balance.

The ‘holidaze’ doesn’t have to overwhelm you or your team. By reevaluating your approach to the season and embracing a mindful, intentional perspective, you can ensure that the holidays remain a time of joy, connection, and celebration, both in your professional and personal life.

Fertility and Mental Health Concerns

Fertility and mental health concerns are closely linked. Research shows that the depression levels in patients with infertility are comparable to patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. Mental health contributes to direct costs in the form of medically necessary treatments and services — it’s the fourth largest source of healthcare spend in the United States — but also contributes to indirect costs such as presenteeism.
Other significant stats about mental health and fertility:
• Half of women and 15% of men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives
• Up to 40% of women struggling to get pregnant report experiencing anxiety,
depression, or both — twice the rate of mental health disorders in women who aren’t
experiencing concerns with infertility.
• Carrot’s Fertility at Work survey that found an astounding 89% said that fertility and family forming has negatively impacted their mental health.

Read more about the impact of fertility on mental health here.


Experiencing Conflict at Work

Did you know that 85% of employees are experiencing conflict at work? According to CPP Global:
• over a third (36%) spend a significant amount of time managing disputes.
• Another third (29%) deal with conflict frequently.
• 27% of employees have actually witnessed conflict morph into personal attacks.
• And a quarter (25%) reported that avoiding conflict resulted in illness or taking
time off from work.

Workplace conflict is one of the most pressing issues for companies today, with serious consequences, significant costs, and damage to company culture.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 85% of executives agree that it’s important for organizations to make workplace mental health a priority–but only 27% say their organization actually does. In this current economic climate, how can employers prioritize different benefits and leverage innovative strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of their employees?

LGBTQ Inclusions

LGBTQ inclusion requires more than just openly celebrating Pride. Several recent reports indicate that LGBTQ workers look at an organization’s track record of equality and inclusion when considering a job. For example, a series of studies by HR consulting firm Veris Insights found that:
• Nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ women and 60 percent of LGBTQ men have disengaged with an employer due to perceived lack of representation in the workplace.
• 80 percent of LGBTQ candidates said perception of “an inclusive and equitable workplace” is highly important to the decision to accept a job offer.
• 44 percent of LGBTQ candidates have felt that an employer was primarily interested in recruiting them to achieve diversity hiring goals.

Jobs site Indeed conducted a survey of about 1,000 full-time professionals who identify as members of the LGBTQ community to better understand their current workplace experiences. According to the findings:
• 87 percent of survey respondents said they researched their company prior to applying to ensure it was LGBTQ-friendly.
• 71 percent said they checked the company’s social media accounts to make sure they were LGBTQ-friendly.
• 61 percent said they spoke to current and/or former employees.
• 45 percent reported that they checked employee benefits to ensure they were inclusive.
• 30 percent said they researched company leadership to gauge sentiment and inclusion.
• 24 percent reported they checked the company’s profile and/or mission to ensure their values aligned with their own.