LEADERSHIP / NOV. 08, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Identify Management Qualities

Finding a manager in-house is usually a better choice than hiring someone from outside your company. Sure, you increase the pool of available candidates, but you run the risk of disrupting the carefully crafted dynamic that exists already. Promoting from within means your new manager is familiar with your business, your customers, your employees, and your procedures from day one. Whenever possible, in-house is the way to go (not to mention the morale boost it gives your staff to see you rewarding your employees for their hard work and commitment).

Picking a manager from the masses isn’t an exact science, though. Not everyone is cut out for it. And sometimes those that seemed most ill-suited for a management position surprise us.

That said, there are typical management qualities that you want in your candidates. So, when looking for someone to promote, identify and make note of the employees that demonstrate all (or most) of these ones.

A Bit Of Both

A good manager needs a variety of professional skills, but they also need strong personal (i.e. people) skills, too. They have to lead, and they can’t do that if the lack social graces. So the first quality to watch is strong interpersonal relationships. In addition to that, a manager must have fantastic communication skills, both written and verbal. Make note of those employees that get along with everyone. The ones that clearly express their ideas at staff meetings, performance reviews, and in company email exchanges. The people that make a point of knowing their colleagues beyond just their names. These are the people you want to lead.

On the Professional Side

There is no shortage of professional skills that a manager must possess. A few of the most important include:

  • Industry Knowledge - obviously, your managers need to understand your business and industry. Which employees are constantly taking refresher courses, asking to attend industry conferences and events, and reading up on industry news? Which ones are always mentioning industry trends and how they relate to company goals?
  • Organized - this one is easy to see from far out. A neat and organized desk or workspace is the most visible indicator. They never miss deadlines, are never late for work or meetings, and deliver reports/paperwork that is legible and easy to understand.
  • Leadership - some employees seek out and thrive in leadership positions, whether it’s on the Christmas party committee, or taking the point on the big new account. They ask for and run with opportunities to take charge. They don’t wait to be told what to do because they’re confident decision-makers. Keep an eye on these people...they’re managers in-waiting.
  • Team Player - a good manager is a team player. They recognize what needs to be done, and they delegate much of that to their people under them. But they’re also not afraid to get their hands dirty and pitch in whenever necessary, even if it’s not their direct responsibility. Which employees do that for you and your company? The ones never afraid to lend a hand with a task, problem, or project?

On the Personal Side

Managers need to have good people skills, too. You can’t lead without them.

  • Approachable - employees that are standoffish, or solitary, quick-tempered, or unable to take criticism will usually not make good managers. Managers need to be approachable and genuine. The people beneath them need to know that they can go to them with problems, for advice, or even just for a quick chat. Which employees would you label as approachable? Look for those that everyone else turns to - in good times and bad.
  • Enthusiastic - every business has at least a few gloomy employees that always see and believe the worst in everybody and every situation. A manager can’t do that. You need an employee that is enthusiastic about the job and industry. Someone excited all the time because they love the work. They have enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is contagious. Likewise optimism.
  • Creative - how many of your employees would you describe as creative? Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean they write, paint, or sculpt (it could, of course). Creativity means they think outside the box. They’re pro-active and interesting problem solvers, and that generally means they’re risk takers, too (trying something in a new or different ways is risky). That’s the type of employee you want in a management position.
  • Genuine and Honest - a manager needs to be a straight shooter. They need to be real. They need to tell the truth...even when it’s something that someone might not want to hear.
  • Dependable - an employee that never lets you or anyone else down is an excellent candidate for promotion. They don’t miss deadlines. When they say they will do something, they do...whatever that is.

There are many other skills, including those particular to your industry, that a manager needs to possess, but these are some of the most basic. Managers need a healthy mix of both professional and personal qualities to be truly successful. Look for those employees that a) everyone (or nearly everyone) likes, gets along with, and respects, and b) has an excellent understanding of your business and industry combined with ambition and leadership skills. Find that person, and you’ve likely hit the manager goldmine.

 

Image: iStock

 

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