There are a lot of good managers, but plenty of bad ones too. Growth of the economy and cultural norms give employees many options of who to work for. The best employees are now more willing than ever to leave bad managers and find better opportunities elsewhere. What’s the definitive way to decide if a manager is good or bad? I evaluate them using 4 criteria:
- How do they communicate?
- What types of goals do they set?
- How do they provide feedback?
- How do they encourage their team to perform?
Now, let’s look at good and bad managers with each of those criteria:
- Communicate clearly, in meetings and in writing.
- Set goals that are reasonable and measurable, set by team consensus
- Provide frequent feedback with suggestions improvements
- To improve performance, they guide employees rather than dictate
- Communicate poorly, usually just in meetings with no follow up
- Set goals that are unrealistic or difficult to measure
- Provide rare feedback that is often just critical with no suggestions
- To improve performance, they give directives rather than coach
To ensure you fall into the good manager category and prevent good employees from leaving, consider:
1. Create processes for feedback
Feedback and communication go hand in hand. To ensure you do this well, create processes, like having a weekly team meeting, doing monthly 1–1s with team members and weekly status updates in writing (I use my tool Weekly Update for this).
2. Set monthly, quarterly and annual goals
When you collaborate with the team to set goals, everyone’s work can align around them. If the big goal for the marketing team in Q1 is “Launch the new marketing automation system” there can now be small “micro-goals” in each month that show progress towards the big objective.
3. Document anything important
When you coach employees, be sure to follow up with an email. If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Goals, feedback, and any kind of communication needs to be memorialized so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
4. Conduct 1-1s and share honest feedback
Good managers always make time to have 1-1 meetings with each team member. This is a sacred time, typically 30 minutes once per month, for managers to share feedback and coach employees on specific ways they can grow and improve their performance. A frequent characteristic of bad managers is to get too busy and skip this meeting.
5. Have engaging meetings
Meetings can be a productive part of your workflow, or a big waste of time. If you are a manager that is scheduling meetings, think carefully about if the meeting is truly necessary, and ensure to keep it productive.
6. Treat employees with respect and foster their growth
Finally, good employees will leave bad managers who don’t treat them with respect. There are simply too many options to put up with someone that isn’t pleasant to work with, so this is a foundational requirement for good managers. Additionally, it’s important to always be thinking about employee’s growth trajectory and finding ways to help them succeed.