How to Be a Good Manager: Defining Traits and Tips to Improve

how to be a good managerGood leadership is the foundation of a productive and engaged organization. But what actually makes a good manager? And how do you improve your own leadership skills?

Too often, managers focus on shiny “quick fix” solutions to engage their people. Initiatives like reward systems, happy hours, and perks can create a fun culture—but in order to build long-lasting engagement, managers will have to dig deeper.


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Employees want motivating jobs where they can make meaningful contributions to winning teams led by inspiring managers.

Of course, developing inspiring and engaging leaders takes work and not a little introspection. Whether you’re a new manager or an old hat, there is always something you can improve.

In this article, we’ll outline the defining traits of a good manager and give you tips on how to be a better manager so you can move the needle on engagement and create happier, more productive teams.

  • What makes a good manager
  • Defining traits of a good manager
  • How to be a good manager


What makes a good manager

There is more than one way to lead effectively and good managers come in all shapes and styles. But there are several defining traits that great managers share.


Defining traits of a good manager

If you’re hiring managers or a manager yourself, focus on finding and developing these core leadership traits. Good managers are:

  • Patient
  • Empathetic
  • Trustworthy
  • Accountable
  • Approachable
  • Resilient
  • Strategic
  • Mentors
  • Effective communicators

At the end of the day, management is a people-centered job. While some work undoubtedly includes crunching numbers and tracking reports, managers are ultimately responsible for leading people. And that requires soft skills and emotional intelligence such as patience, empathy, trust, respect, and open communication.


3 tips for how to be a good manager


Having the right personality and soft skills to manage is only part of the equation. You also need to incorporate the right priorities, strategies, and best practices. Use the following tips to level up your leadership and drive employee engagement.


1. Communicate around goals.

Goal setting and performance tracking are some of the most important responsibilities a manager has. Without clear goals driving toward a specific vision, your team will (and their work) will ultimately be rudderless.

Unfortunately, too many managers drop the ball when it comes to good communication—especially around goals. In fact, according to our research, only 37.2% of employees are very involved in the individual goal-setting process and even fewer (23.4%) have full visibility into organizational goals.

Good managers know the importance of goal setting and bring their employees into the goal-setting process from the beginning.

Consistent, frequent, and open communication about goals at every level will help you

  • align your team with the organization’s strategy
  • keep your employees on the right track
  • improve performance across the board

Hold regular one-on-ones (not just annual or quarterly performance reviews) to talk with your employees about their goals, review successes and challenges, and collaborate on a plan of action. Set clear expectations for performance and help them craft realistic goals that challenge them to stretch. Have conversations individually and as a team about what the organization’s strategy and objectives are. Then connect those overarching goals to your team and employee goals.


2. Recognize good performance.

Recognition is a key driver of employee engagement. However, most employees feel under-appreciated by management. A whopping 52.5% of employees want more recognition from their manager—which leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Good managers never take their employees for granted. Create a culture of recognition on your team by building recognition into your leadership pattern. Regular, sincere employee recognition demonstrates that you (and the company) value your employees and their contributions.

Make a habit of recognizing your employees for performance milestones and efforts big and small. And acknowledge employees in both public and in private. This can be as simple as an informal thank you after an employee finishes a presentation or a more formal recognition at a team meeting or company event.

Take advantage of tools like employee recognition software to help you celebrate and motivate your employees. Recognition software facilitates manager feedback as well as peer-to-peer recognition across your team and organization. It also lets you connect recognition to employee goals and performance so your feedback is timely, relevant, and aligned with your organizational and team objectives.


3. Coach and mentor employees.

Employees want and need opportunities to grow and develop their career. Great managers invest in their employees’ development and coach them towards their personal and professional goals.

Employee development is linked to better performance and engagement. However, many employees don’t know what opportunities are available within their organization. Without that visibility and mentorship from their leaders, they can end up feeling stagnant in their position and unsure of their future with the company. This can lead to disengagement and eventual attrition.

There are multiple ways to build employee development into your leadership culture:

  • Create a formal mentorship program
  • Build a culture of feedback
  • Communicate with employees regularly on goals and review performance benchmarks 
  • Offer cross-training opportunities

Check in with your employees to follow up on their personal goals and performance and share relevant opportunities with them often. As you get to know your employees and their individual aspirations and vision for their career, you will be better equipped to guide them and offer constructive feedback.



Good management isn’t always easy, but with focus and training, you can develop the skills and qualities needed to lead confidently and effectively. To begin developing the right qualities to become a better manager, download our ebook The Manager Jackpot.

manager's role in employee engagement

Published November 12, 2020 | Written By Kristin Ryba