Business is risky enough. Why roll the dice with your managers?

Growth is good. But, with growth comes more employees to manage and develop. Ultimately, the success of a business significantly lies in the hands of the managers of its employees. An ill-equipped or poorly-suited manager places the morale, profitability, and productivity of a company at risk. As a leader, you owe it to your business to ensure managers have the “right stuff” and are properly trained to influence and inspire employees to top performance. To move from being “a roll of the dice” to a “sure thing”, supervisors should master the following ten characteristics.

1. Hires employees with potential

Managers who turn employees frequently, rely solely on skills and ignore cultural fit, or prioritize hiring friends and family need intervention. When properly trained in skillful hiring techniques, managers can improve new hire productivity and job satisfaction, reduce employer litigation risk, and decrease employee turnover. Ultimately, a manager who is skilled at hiring becomes a master at building and keeping a productive and cohesive workforce.

2. Equips employees to succeed

Although having employees frequently ask for resources, input, and approval may feed a manager’s ego or perceived job security, it prevents employees from developing problem solving skills, applying creativity and working with confidence and independence. Good managers avoid being the bottleneck and, instead, train and equip their employees to succeed at their job.

3. Regularly recognizes employee achievements

Employee recognition missteps commonly fall into a few buckets: (1) Don’t provide recognition or feedback because “no news is good news”; (2) Only give recognition to low-performing employees because “good employees know they’re good”; or, (3) Believe a salary increase, annual bonus, or turkey at Thanksgiving is sufficient feedback. Successful managers understand that all employees benefit from frequent recognition and feedback.

4. Understands how to address performance issues

Mishandled performance improvement conversations contribute to decreased employee engagement, which shows itself in areas such as employee productivity, morale, turnover, and trust or respect in leadership. Furthermore, mishandled performance issues can easily lead to litigation and regulatory exposure. To mitigate these risks, managers should be equipped with and trained on a well-defined, performance improvement process.

5. Recognizes when to escalate

A good manager is capable of handling the majority of employee situations. A great manager recognizes those situations that may put the company at risk and/or may require a level of expertise which the manager does not possess. Managers should be trained to detect situations that are outside of their skill set or may require legal or professional assistance to protect the company’s interests.

6. Communicates the “why” and the “what”

It’s important that employees know what they are supposed to do, but in order to create highly-engaged employees, a manager needs to connect “what” an employee is doing with “why” it is important to the success of the organization. Employees want to know how their job on a daily basis makes a recognizable difference to the company.

7. Sets the example

Most of us have worked with that manager who views his title as a free pass to disregard the “rules”. This profile is often associated with the long-term employee who has been promoted beyond his peers and and chooses to bask in the newfound power. Regardless of experience or seniority, before promoting an employee into a manager role, consider whether the person is the best behavioral and cultural fit to model for the team “how things are done here.”

8. Maintains professional relationships with employees

Although it may be a difficult transition for the manager who has been promoted from within, it is important for managers to realize that professional boundaries need to be established in order to have an effective manager-employee relationship. When relationships are too personal, favoritism may be a perceived or real concern and performance issues may go unaddressed or be taken more personally than is necessary.

9. Seeks input from employees

Managers are in an ideal position to maintain a pulse on the organization by soliciting feedback from their team members. Those managers who seek input from their team and visibly apply that input when making decisions or influencing change will quickly gain the trust and buy-in from their team. Information is more willingly shared when employees are confident that their honesty and transparency will be rewarded with respect and confidentiality.

10. Acts as an employee advocate

At the end of the day, employees want to know that their manager has their back. Whether an employee receives a customer complaint, is due for a salary increase, or interested in a career path, employees need to feel confident that their manager is supportive and trustworthy and is sincerely concerned about what is mutually beneficial to the company and the employee.

Great managers are rarely born. Instead, people can be developed to be great managers through a process of mentoring, observing role models, and educating. Not all are suited for management. Using tools like behavioral assessments can assist with the selection and development of management personnel. Since increasing employee engagement, reducing employee turnover, and decreasing litigation risks translates into significant, measurable ROI, equipping your managers to lead may be one of the best investments you can make for your organization.