What Makes Someone a Good People Manager?

We can all name examples of good, great and not-so-great managers we’ve worked with in our careers, but nailing down the management qualities that matter is a little bit trickier. 

The role of manager is constantly changing. According to recent research by Gartner, 65% of tasks currently performed by managers have the potential to be automated by 2025 (1). So how can we spot a good manager when the role is being turned inside out? And how can the managers among us identify the most important qualities to aim for?

We wanted to answer these questions with a research-backed breakdown of the most valuable management qualities. And we also wanted to hone in on a specific type of management, one that we’re passionate about here at Frankli; people management.

What Makes Someone a Good People Manager? The Management Qualities you Need to Know

Many workers manage other people. But according to Gallup (2), only 10% of them have the talent to bring about significant improvements in a company’s performance.

How do they do it? According to our research, the best people managers;

1. Coach Rather Than “Manage”

Traditionally, management was about assigning tasks, monitoring progress and making decisions, while coaching is about supporting your team, and giving them the confidence to perform to the best of their ability. In Google’s manager research, the highest-scoring managers were effective coaches, practicing continuous feedback and active listening (3).

QUICK TIP: Hold regular one-on-one meetings during which you are fully present and focused on your team member.

2. Have a Clear Vision

Engaging your people is easier when you’ve created a vision in collaboration with your team, including individual and team goals that feed into the company goals (4). Simply put, this gives people a roadmap for where they need to get to.

QUICK TIP: Include your people in the goal-setting process to secure their buy-in.

3. Communicate Effectively

When you break it down, people management is really about conversations. So it’s no surprise that a 2006 study found that employee motivation is critically dependent on effective communication (5). 

QUICK TIP: Strive to be clear, concise, and honest in your communications with your team, and remember that the best communicators are also active listeners.

4. Care about their People

It’s obvious when managers are only concerned about the bottom line. In order to really engage and inspire your people, you need to be genuinely interested in each individual’s professional success and personal wellbeing (3).

QUICK TIP: Show your people you care by taking the time to ask them how they’re doing. This one may sound obvious, but it often goes undone in the course of a busy workday.

5. Are Results-Oriented

Great people management isn’t just about being nice to your team, it’s also about empowering your team to hit specific targets (6). 

QUICK TIP: Collaborate with your team on setting key results for goals, so each team member is clear what they’re supposed to be working on.

6. Play to their People’s Strengths

Some people are never going to have strong customer service skills, while others will always struggle with technical knowledge. And that’s OK. Getting to know your individual team members, their strengths and weaknesses, and adapting your plans accordingly is one of the most important! - and, for whatever reason, least-talked about - management qualities (7).

QUICK TIP: This kind of flexible approach is most effective when done in conjunction with regular job satisfaction catch-ups. Just because a team member is an excellent networker doesn’t mean they want to do it all the time.

7. Are Approachable

It’s near-impossible to effectively manage when your people find it hard to flag problems, or get your attention. A 2021 study supports this idea. It found a direct correlation between leadership approachability and employee satisfaction and low turnover rates (8).

QUICK TIP: Set aside time in your calendar for questions and feedback. That way, you can say to people, “I’m not free just now, how’s Wednesday at 2pm?” 

8. Are Masters at Giving and Receiving Feedback

Research by Gallup shows that feedback increases engagement (9), so this is another area of management that’s important to get right. Creating a culture of timely and honest feedback takes time and careful planning, but the results are worth it.

QUICK TIP: Schedule regular one-on-one feedback sessions with your people, and don’t forget to ask for feedback on how you’re doing.

9. Support Career Growth for their People

Research shows that job candidates want to work for people they can learn from (10), so, for good retention rates, it’s crucial that people managers support and encourage this. 

QUICK TIP: Remember that career growth doesn’t mean vertical progression for everyone. Some employees may be happier moving to a different team or mastering a new skill. 

Frankli helps companies strengthen their people strategy through goal alignment, automated one-on-one meetings and intuitive communication features. Click here to find out more.

60-Second Version: What Makes Someone a Good People Manager?

Introduction: The role of manager is constantly changing. According to recent research by Gartner, 65% of tasks currently performed by managers have the potential to be automated by 2025 (1). So how can we spot a good people manager? And how can the managers among us identify the most important qualities to aim for?

The Management Qualities you Need to Know

According to our research, the best people managers;

1. Coach Rather Than “Manage”

2. Have a Clear Vision

3. Communicate Effectively

4. Care about their People

5. Are Results-Oriented

6. Play to their People’s Strengths

7. Are Approachable

8. Are Masters at Giving and Receiving Feedback

9. Support Career Growth for their People

Frankli helps companies strengthen their people strategy through goal alignment, automated one-on-one meetings and intuitive communication features. Click here to find out more.

1. Gartner, 11 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2022 and Beyond. 2. Gallup, Why Great Managers are So Rare. 3. Google Re:Work Google Manager Behaviours. 4. Paul R. Niven and Ben Lamorte, Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs. 5. Rashmi Nakra, Relationship between Communication Satisfaction and Organizational Identification: An Empirical Study. 6. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, How Managers Drive Results and Employee Engagement at the Same Time. 7. Marcus Buckingham, What Great Managers Do. 8. Josh Royes and Phillip Wilson, Leader Approachability: Reduced Turnover and Other Business Outcomes. 9. Gallup, Feedback for Real. 10. Monique Valcour, If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material

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