Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (2022)

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (1)

You’ve put in the effort, you’ve honed your skills, and you’re finally a manager. While this is great news, being proficient at your job doesn’t necessarily equate to being a great manager. When you manage people, you are responsible for inspiring, motivating, and encouraging them. It’s no longer just about you and what you bring to the table — you need to get others to bring all they can to the table, too. Essentially, being a manager is about more than just hard skills. When you consider the qualities of a good manager, you’ll notice that they can’t all be proven and measured. Some of the qualities will turn you from a good manager to a great leader — these are known as “soft skills,” or “interpersonal skills.”

These skills are so valuable, in part, because they are harder to learn. They are developed over time as you observe, interact, and work with your teammates to help them become more productive. Soft skills are vital for effective leadership and performance management.

Research theorizes that of all the qualities of a good manager, soft skills are king. SHRM found that employers care more about soft skills such as active listening, communication, and flexibility than they do technical abilities.

Other sources state that hard skills are useless without soft skills. Soft skills enable us to build relationships, relate to people, and encourage others to succeed. Given the ongoing trend towards continuous performance management and regular coaching conversations, soft skills are becoming an essential part of a manager’s armory.

Below, we explore the qualities of a good manager — specifically, 13 soft skills that make managers great.

1. Transparency

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to keep things on a need-to-know basis with your employees. Times have changed.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (2)

Employees expect you to be transparent with them. They want to know what’s going on with their company and how they are doing. They want direct and honest feedback regularly, and a manager who won’t patronize them by sugarcoating the truth or hiding difficult realities from them.

Your employees are adults; you don’t need to protect them. They want the truth, and good managers know how to be transparent, authentic, and direct. Transparency and an ability to be honest and open are skills every manager and human resource executive needs to improve employee engagement.

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2. Excellent Communication

Managers need to be excellent communicators, which means maintaining regular contact with everyone on their team, providing frequent feedback, and delivering rewards and recognition for excellent performance.

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Communication doesn’t only happen face-to-face — it happens via email, chat applications, body language, and much more. Managers need to communicate with their employees in ways that make them comfortable. It’s about getting to know your employees and understanding what they need to get them to perform well — it isn’t all about communicating in a way and on a schedule that suits you.

Good managers should let their employees know that they can discuss anything work-related on a regular cadence. Consider implementing an open-door policy if you haven’t already done so, as well as incorporating tools and technology that can offer real-time feedback. Managers should also clarify that their employees are free to communicate openly and honestly — employees shouldn’t feel their jobs are at risk whenever they want to air a grievance or ask for help.

3. Listening Skills

When we hear the phrase, “good communicator,” we generally think about speaking or writing rather than listening. But when discussing the qualities of a good manager, listening is just as important. Employees want to know that their opinions and insights are being heard.

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Take the time to focus on your employees and what they are saying. Ask for their insights if they don’t readily offer them. When you get valuable feedback, make a conscious effort to take action based on it. This will show your employees that when they speak up, they can make a difference in their working environment.

4. Appreciating and Encouraging Teamwork

Companies that encourage teamwork enjoy improved efficiency, work outcomes, and individual development. Managers should support collaboration at every opportunity and mitigate toxic behavior and unhealthy competition.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (5)

Workplace processes can be adjusted to complement this approach. For example, some companies still operate on a “stacked ranking” system, as popularized by General Electric decades ago. This system ranks employees, and the lowest-performing employees are shown the door. Employee rankings, in general, have been shown to be demotivating to employees. Furthermore, ranking employees against each other creates toxic relationships and reduces the likelihood that employees will help one another when given the opportunity. Companies implementing this system should consider removing it.

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5. Consistency and Reliability

Employees need to know that their leader is stable, secure, and reliable. They will come to you for clarification regarding organizational objectives, views on their work, and advice. And more importantly, employees should feel comfortable approaching you when they are struggling and need help. Employees need to know that their manager is a level-headed person who won’t fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, they won’t feel able to open up to you and their trust in management will weaken. This brings us to our next point:

6. Trustworthiness

Good managers are trustworthy, and they respect confidentiality. Employees need to have faith in their leaders and know that their managers have their employees’ best interests at heart. If your employees feel like you don’t support them, it’ll lead to a toxic work environment, reduced collaboration, and unhealthy competition in your workplace. Employees also need to be assured that management is telling them the truth. Your trustworthiness is built on respecting the privacy of your employees and offering honest advice based on what aligns best with your company’s goals.

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7. The Drive to Set Goals

The new trend in goal setting is empowering employees to determine their own goals. Doing so gives employees more ownership over their goals, which results in more work being done (and to a better standard).

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While employees should be placed in the driver’s seat, managers still play an important role in goal setting. Good managers need to be able to understand how to form motivational and realistic goals, then guide the process to align with organizational objectives. These goals also need to be challenging, so leveraging this soft skill is a delicate balance managers must maintain to keep employees engaged and motivated.

8. Making Decisions (and Accepting Responsibility)

New managers sometimes struggle to make decisions — especially important ones. Some suffer from a concept known as “analysis paralysis” (over-thinking a decision) or “bikeshedding” (focusing on insignificant details). Other managers obsess over possible negative outcomes, no matter how unlikely, and some might rush into a decision despite lacking the right information.

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Managers need to make decisions for the benefit of their team and company, taking a structured, logical approach to decision-making while keeping a cool head.

Managers also need to be able to make difficult decisions with regards to performance issues. Employees need to believe you’re on their side, but as a manager, you also need to put your foot down. If an employee is exhibiting behavioral or performance issues, managers need to have the confidence to step in and risk being seen as “the bad guy”.

If there is a problem, it needs to be addressed. It’s entirely possible to resolve issues amicably and productively, but managers shouldn’t shy away from confrontation when it’s warranted.

9. Empathy and Sensitivity

Emotional intelligence, which encompasses sensitivity and empathy, is a soft skill all modern managers need to have.

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Emotional intelligence can make all the difference between an engaged employee and one who is burned out, frustrated, and unmotivated. Managers need to pick up on signs that an employee is pushing themselves too far, which can cause burnout, anxiety, depression, and disengagement. More often than not, good managers will pick up on signs of these conditions in advance, before the employee approaches them to discuss the situation.

Sensitivity is certainly needed when it comes to issues like anxiety. Managers need to be able to put the right provisions in place. This could include putting flexible working measures in place, being understanding about mental health breaks, and being mindful of anxiety during the goal setting process. Taking measures like this shows employees that they are not alone — and that the company is able and willing to help them.

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10. Rewarding and Recognizing Employees

Employee recognition isn’t just a good idea in terms of employee morale; it is also a significant driver of employee engagement. A good manager understands the value of rewarding and recognizing employees.

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Employees don’t just work for a paycheck. It takes much more than that to keep employees aligned with your company objectives and going that extra mile. Employees need to know that their work — and more importantly, their efforts — are acknowledged and appreciated. Leaders need to be perceptive in this area and take the time to reward and recognize employees where appropriate.

11. A Willingness to Change

The world of work is constantly shifting. The ways we operate in terms of technology, motivating employees, and reviewing performance are processes constantly subject to change. From year to year, your business will look different — and this is a good thing. It means you’re staying relevant and competitive, which means you’ll be around for years to come.

Managers stuck in their ways stagnate, while good managers are adaptable and flexible. They are ready for change and they plan for it, seeing disruption as an exciting challenge rather than a burden.

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12. Conflict Resolution (Rather than Conflict Avoidance)

Workplace conflict is an ongoing issue in most organizations. This can occur for several reasons, with personality conflicts being a primary cause. Good managers need to not only be aware of conflict and able to pick up on signs of incivility and bullying but also stamp it out. Leaving such issues to fester is terrible for employee morale and performance. Confronting these situations head-on allows managers to arrive at a solution before it escalates and becomes unbearable.

13. Empowering and Motivating Your Team

Every generation and individual is motivated by different things. Good managers can relate to every member of their team, which will help them understand how to empower and motivate employees to get the best out of them and help them become the best they can be. This can come in the form of sales SPIFFs, competitions, or simply recognizing employees for their hard work. No matter what motivational technique you adopt, be sure to understand what motivates your team and give them incentives to work toward.

Qualities of a Good Manager: Looking Ahead

Now that you have a better understanding of the soft skills you should master in your management role, it’s time to take action. Take these 13 tips and integrate them into your workday. Keep notes on how impactful implementing these skills is, be sure to make adjustments as-needed, and check in with your team members often. You might be surprised about how quickly your team will change for the better.

Qualities of a Good Manager: 13 Soft Skills You Need (12)Stuart Hearn is CEO and Founder of Clear Review. Stuart works with companies to improve relationships and communication between managers and employees.

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FAQs

What qualities are needed to be a good manager? ›

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Manager
  • Leadership Skills. In order to be an effective manager, you need to be able to lead your employees in an efficient manner. ...
  • Professional Experience. ...
  • Good Communication Skills. ...
  • Knowledge. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Time Management Skills. ...
  • Delegation. ...
  • Confidence.

What are the soft skills that in your opinion a manager must have in 2022 this question is required? ›

Business communication is key for any manager or supervisor. From hosting meetings to building solid relationships with clients, being an excellent communicator is a must. But a big part of communication is also body language and active listening.

Why are soft skills important for managers? ›

When managing a group of people, soft skills are even more important because you're responsible for leading, motivating, and encouraging your team. In fact, managers with great leadership soft skills can boost their team's productivity by up to 30%.

What are the 3 major skills of a manager? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process: Technical skills. Conceptual skills. Human or interpersonal management skills.

What is a good manager? ›

A good leader sets a positive example and knows how to use their strengths to help their team achieve goals. Successful managers get to know their employees and find ways to support them so they produce their best work. It's important to consistently communicate clear goals, expectations and feedback to your team.

Who is a good manager example? ›

Good managers aren't afraid to stand up to their directors and defend the team's ideas and efforts. However, good managers won't always take their team's side. They're upfront and honest with their team when it comes to pushback from executives.

What is the most important soft skill? ›

According to the World Economic Forum's report “The Future of Jobs,” by 2020, the top ten soft skills for employers will include:
  • The ability to solve complex problems.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Creativity.
  • People management skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • The ability to draw conclusions and make decisions.

What is soft skills for manager? ›

Soft skills can be defined as the ability to interact amicably with others. These personal attributes can affect relationships, interactions, and communications with others. And that is why soft skills are invaluable for business success. Especially soft skills for managers are more needed than ever.

What are the 7 essential soft skills? ›

7 Soft Skills You Need to Be Successful
  • Problem-Solving Skills. The ability to solve problems can be defined as understanding a situation thoroughly, identifying the underlying issue, and finding a solution. ...
  • Emotional Intelligence. ...
  • Leadership Skills. ...
  • Strong Work Ethic. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Adaptability.
6 Aug 2021

What makes a good manager and leader? ›

Good managers support their staff and trust in their abilities. They stand up for their team and defend them to senior leadership. They delegate tasks with confidence and never micromanage. They know putting faith in capable employees empowers them to further their ability and professional development.

What are the 5 basic managerial skills? ›

  • What are Management Skills? ...
  • Management Skills #1: Relationship Management. ...
  • Management Skills #2: Planning. ...
  • Management Skills #3: Prioritisation. ...
  • Management Skills #4: Critical Thinking. ...
  • Management Skills #5: Industry Knowledge.
5 Aug 2021

What are four important skills a successful manager must possess? ›

The 4 must-have General Management Skills:
  • Visionary Leadership.
  • Strategy & Development.
  • Negotiation and Conflict Management.
  • Team-building & Interpersonal Skills.

What is the role of a manager? ›

Manager Job Responsibilities:

Accomplishes department objectives by managing staff; planning and evaluating department activities. Maintains staff by recruiting, selecting, orienting, and training employees. Ensures a safe, secure, and legal work environment. Develops personal growth opportunities.

Who is called as manager? ›

A manager is a professional who takes a leadership role in an organisation and manages a team of employees. Often, managers are responsible for managing a specific department in their company. There are many types of managers, but they usually have duties like conducting performance reviews and making decisions.

What are the types of managers? ›

What Are the Different Types of Managers? The four most common types of managers are top-level managers, middle managers, first-line managers, and team leaders. These roles vary not only in their day-to-day responsibilities, but also in their broader function in the organization and the types of employees they manage.

Why is good management important? ›

It helps in Achieving Group Goals - It arranges the factors of production, assembles and organizes the resources, integrates the resources in effective manner to achieve goals. It directs group efforts towards achievement of pre-determined goals.

What makes a good manager and leader? ›

Good managers support their staff and trust in their abilities. They stand up for their team and defend them to senior leadership. They delegate tasks with confidence and never micromanage. They know putting faith in capable employees empowers them to further their ability and professional development.

What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have answers? ›

Consider these 12 must-have qualities of a manager that can supply a roadmap to professional excellence.
  • They build a work culture of mutual trust. ...
  • They focus on employee strengths. ...
  • They do not micromanage. ...
  • They are assertive. ...
  • They help develop employees' careers. ...
  • They handle pressure well. ...
  • They communicate honestly.
30 Jan 2018

What makes you a strong leader? ›

Respectful: Great leaders treat their teams with respect, gaining respect in return. Transparent: Being open and honest makes work more efficient and enjoyable. Trusting: Leadership requires delegation–trusting their team to complete what they are assigned with excellence produces positive morale and mutual respect.

What is the role of a manager? ›

Manager Job Responsibilities:

Accomplishes department objectives by managing staff; planning and evaluating department activities. Maintains staff by recruiting, selecting, orienting, and training employees. Ensures a safe, secure, and legal work environment. Develops personal growth opportunities.

How do you answer what qualities are you looking for in a manager? ›

Emphasize Your Adaptability.

Share how you've thrived with a variety of supervisory styles in your past. Be prepared to give examples of how you've been productive with different types of bosses... but not too many. You don't want to come off like a job-hopper with a mind-boggling, long list of previous jobs.

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