Why Are Great Managers so Hard to Find?

It’s a well-known statement, people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. We have all encountered a bad manager in our years of work experience. We get micro-managed, told what to do, they don’t listen to us, they take all the credit, we only get told when we do something wrong. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, the number of poor managers far outweighs the number of great managers according to some recent Gallup research. I was completely shocked when I read that organisations fail to choose the right candidate for manager an amazing 82% of the time. As Gallups CEO, Jim Clifton says, “Virtually all companies try to fix bad managers with training. Nothing fixes a bad manager.”

Why do companies get it so wrong? Mainly because they promote the wrong person. Too many times I see a manager out of their depth and not enjoying the role because they were really good in their past role so they got promoted. Being a great salesperson, for example, doesn’t necessarily make you a great manager, the skill set is quite different. I always say the best players don’t always make the best coaches.

Another reason is the rule of longevity – the person has been there longer they know everything and how things get done, they should make a great manager. Once again this is the wrong reason to promote someone. Just because they have been around a while is not a reason to promote them.

In both of the above cases everyone suffers – the business loses a great sales person off the floor, the new manager is out of their depth, they hate the role, the staff hates him or her. Yuk!! So what makes a great manager, what do you look for?

Gallup, in their research, found 5 key traits:

  • Great managers motivate their team – they work out what makes each individual tick and they use this to motivate them individually as well as a team. They use a lot of positive feedback to keep the team focus on what they are doing right as well as challenging individuals to improve daily.
  • Managers assert themselves to overcome obstacles – they possess grit and determination. They don’t take setbacks as a negative instead look for ways to get things done. They have the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They make unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company – they fight for what is right and don’t play politics. Sometimes their decisions can be unpopular but they have the courage to see them through.
  • Great managers create a culture of clear accountability – they and their team know where they stand. They use KPI’s to drive their own and their team’s performance. Their team knows how they are doing and are constantly wanting to improve.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue and full transparency – their team knows where they stand. Great managers live by their word, they follow up on promises made and expect the same of their team.

I would challenge all managers to do a mental check of the 5 traits listed above and work out where they need to improve. If we are open to improvement we can all manage better and reap the rewards of a more positive and productive workplace.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.