35286471_sWe’ve all heard the old adage “people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” You know what that’s about if you’ve ever had a nightmare boss. You also intimately understand the opposite if you’ve ever worked for someone that encouraged, mentored, and taught you more than you ever learned in years of graduate study.

Great managers are part of what makes great work environments that attract and keep great employees according to Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte. Meaningful work, great management, growth opportunities, positive work environment, and trust in leadership are five elements of amazing workplaces that draw top candidates and contribute to employee engagement.


Management at Top Companies

Management at the top five companies on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, Google, SAS, The Boston Consulting Group, Edward Jones, and Quicken Loans don’t have great workplaces by chance.

Google researched and highlighted the top attributes for managers to better understand and help its managers improve and develop. Top attributes include being a good coach, empowering not micromanaging, expressing interest in employees, focusing on productivity and results, being a good listener who shares information, helping with career development, having clear vision and strategy, and possessing key technical skills. This aligns with Deloitte’s research that shows that people thrive with managers who believe in coaching and providing positive, productive feedback.

Analytics software giant SAS has a management team that makes workplace happiness a primary mission. Their goal is to drive employee loyalty, productivity, and innovation by showing them that they are valued at SAS. SAS management values people, maintains a culture of trust, and ensures that employees understand their work matters.


Great Managers are Self-Aware

Bersin explains that great managers have to be mindful to have the most positive impact with employees, helping them to slow down and understand not just their role but also the big picture. He discusses manager self-awareness as a competency of leadership. Arianna Huffington goes into this vital aspect of great management in her new book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.”

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She talks about not being successful and not being able to lead and coach well if your own life is out of control. She says that managers must value work/life balance, well-being, and giving themselves and for their employees or they just can’t truly manage and lead well or effectively. This is born out in the top companies that people want to work for, like SAS, where valuing people is the culture. Bersin says self-awareness is a fast growing competency in leadership development programs because we have to teach managers how to be mindful so they can help their employees be mindful.


What Does a Great Manager Look Like?

Gallup’s report “State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders” explains that managers are responsible for a wide fluctuation in employee engagement in the U.S. and they are not creating the types of workplace environments that drive engagement. Gallup found that manager behaviors that are most directly linked to employee engagement are communication, performance management, and individual strengths. These are areas that companies need to focus management development on to impact employee engagement.

Great managers communicate richly to create and maintain healthy relationships with employees. Consistent communication is connected to higher engagement according to Gallup, and the quality of the communication also matters. Employees are most engaged when they feel their managers care about them to build genuine relationships with them.

Gallup found that great managers focus on strengths over weaknesses, and it shows in employee engagement. Managers who develop a strengths-based culture will see employees learn their work roles quickly, be more productive, stay with the company longer, and be more engaged. Focusing on weaknesses has the opposite effect.

Great managers understand performance management and do it well, providing clear goals that help employees know what’s expected of them to contribute productively and creatively. When managers help employees set work priorities and performance goals with consistent positive communications, they are more engaged and understand how to be accountable for results.

Positive hands-on management drives the employee engagement that directly affects the bottom line. Poor management, micromanaging, and punitive management all have the opposite effect. Which would you rather see in your organization?


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