Want to Be a Great Manager? Try These Three Tips


“I’ve recently been promoted to store manager where I work. It’s the first time I’ll have people reporting underneath me, and I want to do a good job. Any advice?” — Maureen from Tacoma, WA


I recently visited a Goodwill® store while taking a weekend road trip.  When I entered the store, one employee greeted me with a sincere, “Welcome to Goodwill! We’re glad you’re here, enjoy your treasure hunt!”  The greeting immediately helped me view my experience differently.  I wasn’t just shopping, I was searching for treasures.

While continuing my treasure hunt, I paused to talk to the employee who greeted me to find out what made her so enthusiastic about her job.  She told me that she had worked in many places over her lifetime but for once, this was the place where she felt valued, appreciated, and respected for her contribution.

“It’s easy to pass on my enthusiasm to our customers when my management creates an environment where I am valued,” she proudly shared.

Three Characteristics of Great Managers

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make the people who report to you feel valued, appreciated and respected for their contributions.

Gallup recently conducted a survey of 80,000 managers to find out what great managers did to help keep employees engaged and enthused about their jobs.  The survey indicated the following about what great managers do:

1. Great managers discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it.

Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess. The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths.In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves. More important, you won’t win if you don’t think carefully about how you move the pieces. Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to move their skill sets in the workplace to keep them engaged.

2. Great managers tap the creativity of their employees.

Try putting people into roles and shifts that will allow them to shine—and avoid putting clashing personalities together. At the same time, find ways for individuals to grow.

For example, if you know that an employee is extremely creative in setting up displays and arranging products to appear like treasures, allow the employee to do it.  A great manager will leverage the creativity by tapping their ideas for arranging products during holidays. Be sure to recognize the employees for doing good work.

3. Great managers are good at finding the key that opens the door to an employee’s best performance.

How do you find that key?

Marcus Buckingham, a leading expert on employee engagement suggests that you “Observe and ask, ‘What was the best manager relationship you ever had, and what made it so good?’” Allow the employee to share for a bit, and you’ll find out a lot.

One key you may find is recognition, but people like different types:  public, private, peers and customer feedback.  A great manager will ask “What was the best recognition you’ve had for doing good work?”  Asking this question will help you find out what motivates your employees to continue performing at a high level.