Find your Coach
Back to Blog

All you need to know about being a good manager

July 27, 2022 - 10 min read


Jump to section

8 traits of a great manager

Avoid the following habits

How to hire a great manager

Need a hand?

Think back to your least favorite work experience. 

Maybe it was your first job at a fast-food restaurant. When the lunch rush was in full swing, your boss cracked under pressure. Instead of looking for solutions, your manager blamed you for the backup of food orders. 

Of course, it wasn’t your fault. You were trying your best with the tools you had, and a good leader should have recognized that.

Being a good manager is difficult. Whether in a restaurant or a boardroom, leaders should give staff something to aspire to — not just punish them when things go south.

But what does it take to be a good manager? Don’t worry — we’re going to tell you.


8 traits of a great manager

The best managers set clear goals, boost employee engagement, and value the well-being of their direct reports. No matter your management style, here are some keys to being a good manager:

1. Align your team with organizational goals

Keep your team in the loop on your organization’s goals. Companies constantly adapt to accommodate regulations or beat competitors to market. Thankfully, your team is surely bright, quick, and adaptable. 

Show the members of your team how their work fits into the big picture. Doing so will have a big impact. After all, people are at their best when they recognize their importance to the mission.

2. Show empathy

Remember the people you manage have thoughts, feelings, and emotions that matter.  Be mindful of their workload, check in with them regularly, and recognize that they also have personal lives.

Emotional intelligence goes a long way in building trust with your staff.

When you treat people well, they will be more likely to step up when you need them. Your team will keep you in the loop on the ins and outs of their work and be more willing to collaborate. Magic happens when people feel safe and work together.

3. Become a master delegator

If you want to know how to become a project manager, you need to know how to delegate tasks, not complete them all yourself. To hit deadlines, you’ll need everyone to understand their role and your expectations. And, most of all, trust them to follow through. Then you can celebrate when they knock it out of the park.

4. Set SMART goals for your employees

Employees should know the purpose of their role. Simple project-based tasks can feel meaningless without something bigger to work toward. Good managers know what they need from individuals and communicate it effectively. Set SMART goals for each staff member. SMART stands for: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely 

This type of goal-setting will help keep things clear and focused for your employees.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Like any relationship, leading a team requires constant good communication. You’ll need to keep meetings on task, resolve conflicts at their inception, and adapt to people’s work styles. Use active listening to hear what people need from you and communicate what you need from them. 

You can improve your communication skills with the help of a professional coach. At BetterUp, you’ll get access to tools and advice to help improve your leadership skills.

6. Play to your team’s skills

The best leaders know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Have regular performance reviews. Show the people you manage what they do well and where they can improve. Plan new skills together. And, most of all, empower your team by believing in them.

7. Set people up for success

Ask your team members what they need and, if resources allow, provide it. That might mean investing in training programs or subscribing to that perfect project management software.

Or, it may be as simple and practical as upgrading to more comfortable chairs or investing in a great coffee machine for the office. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to build a great work environment.

8. Inspire

Great leaders are uplifting when times are tough and celebrate the team’s victories first. 

Make it your goal to help your team members become the best versions of themselves. Not only will this boost employee morale, but it will encourage resilience and creativity.

improve influence - half size

Avoid the following habits

While there are many things you can do to be great, managers should also be wary of certain habits. Here are four to avoid to be an effective manager and leader:

1. Micromanaging

Unless you’re offering constructive feedback, avoid telling someone how to do their job. You hired them for a reason, so let them work.

Hovering over someone’s shoulder only leads to stress, anxiety, and maybe even mistakes — the very thing you’re trying to avoid.


2. Over-providing solutions

As a manager, people often count on you to solve problems. But unless someone explicitly asks for help, it’s better to sit back.

Trust that your employees are talented enough to solve things on their own. This will make them better workers in the long run and show them that you have faith in their abilities.


3. Playing favorites

It’s often a leader’s job to diffuse tensions in the office. If you show blatant favoritism, you’ll do the opposite.

This practice sows distrust among your team. It also tells people that hard work doesn’t matter — you just need an “in” with the boss.

4. Leading with your ego

We get it. Landing that managerial position is a big deal. You worked hard to get there.

But don’t let it go to your head. Employees can tell if you’re trying to make yourself look better. Stay humble, be authentic, and do a good job. Your leadership will speak for itself.


How to hire a great manager

Finding a new manager for your company is difficult. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Have a standard set of questions that will reveal their leadership qualities. For example, “Tell me about a time you helped an employee improve on a mistake.” By asking each candidate the same questions, you’ll be able to compare responses. This can help you see who is the best fit for the role and the company.
  2. Be picky. This is an important job. Your standards should be high.
  3. Interview candidates based on referrals. If you know and respect someone, you can likely count on them to refer stellar candidates.


Need a hand?

Don’t feel like you need to manage your career development on your own. Being a good manager takes time, patience, and hard work. Whether you’re improving your time management or gunning for a new management role, BetterUp coaches can guide you to success.

New call-to-action

Published July 27, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

Read Next

12 min read | June 21, 2022

43% of us don’t feel connected at work. Here's what to do about it.

Employees everywhere aren't getting the type of social connection they want or need. Learn why that matters and what you can do to boost your own. Read More
Leadership & Management
14 min read | November 7, 2022

Building influence without authority: Be the change you want to see

Building influence without authority can help you make positive changes in your company. Here’s how to be the change you want to see. Read More
Leadership & Management
14 min read | October 21, 2022

Management isn’t for everyone: Here’s what to do instead

It’s hard to know what to do if you don’t want to be a manager. Here are some examples of the paths less traveled that still advance your career. Read More
Research & Insights
5 min read | October 13, 2021

Data shows since pandemic team performance hinges on this leader skill

Good leaders who lead successful teams have many skills, from influence to humility. Our data shows what is most important to employees and bottom line. Read More
Research & Insights
8 min read | November 10, 2021

How keeping employees connected may actually keep them committed

Employees are feeling less favorable about their employers over time, but it may be related to feeling less connected to each other Read More
12 min read | July 8, 2022

How to improve your emotional intelligence to improve your life

Developing greater emotional intelligence can change your life for the better. Learn what emotional intelligence is and tips for how increase yours. Read More
Leadership & Management
8 min read | May 3, 2021

How performance reviews can reinforce gender bias: 5 steps to avoid it

Learn how gender bias is influencing women leaving the tech industry, and what you can do to retain your women workers. Read More
Leadership & Management
13 min read | January 13, 2021

The secret behind how to influence people

Discover the secret behind influencing people. Learn how to exert influence to enable others to share your vision and collaboratively achieve your goals. Read More
Leadership & Management
14 min read | September 24, 2022

Discover the benefits of leadership training: Why you need it

Learn the benefits of leadership training and how it’ll transform your workplace. Plus, read about the different approaches you can take to get your training. Read More

Stay connected with BetterUp

Get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research.