7 Tips on Hiring Great Managers

By Maria Forbes
January 28, 2021

Great managers are essential to your company success.  They provide guidance to their teams, and good managers keep the wheels of productivity turning.  Not everyone has what it takes to manage others well.  According to a Gallup survey, about one in ten employees make great managers.  How do you find and develop great managers? You need to know what to look for.

#1) Consider More Than Previous Experience

Previous managerial experience may seem like an obvious track to ensure success in a new management role.  However management misfires are not uncommon when you overlook important factors.  Management experience is not a one size fits all path to success.  The type of management responsibilities should be matched as much as possible to the role you are seeking to fill.  When you take a closer look, beyond the familiar aspects of supervision, you will find variations that have significant impact on whether a person can succeed.  Familiarity with the duties and responsibilities of a managerial role is good, but consider the working relationships, performance measures, frequency and style of oversight, and frequency and type of dialogue between a management candidate and their previous teams. Details matter in choosing the right leadership for your company.  Without the right management experience, leaders face additional training, teams experience collaborative misfires, productivity challenges, and strain on personal use of time and energy.  Time also matters, without the right management experience everyone on your team can face unplanned interruptions to their workload in order to bring a new manager up to speed.  The stress on your team can be avoided if you don’t make the assumption that all management experience is equal.  Take a deeper look at the type of management experience a candidate demonstrates and its alignment with the experience required for success in your management role.

#2) Emphasize Soft Skills

Excellent soft skills are a common characteristic of great managers.  Nearly all management roles require good communication skills. Managers should communicate with transparency and a clear vision.  Soft skills are traits that allow managers to effectively and efficiently communicate with others.  Research shows that 92% of employers believe soft skills are more valuable than hard skills for managers, because of their impact on communications.
Examples of soft skills for managers include the following:

  • Teamwork
  • Dependability
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Adaptability
  • Motivation
  • Decisiveness
  • Organization
  • Punctuality

#3) Consider Existing Employees

Don’t limit your recruiting efforts to external channels.  You can often find great managers by looking internally.  Once a role is well defined take a look within your existing workforce.  With long term working relationships, comes the need for a clear path to personal and professional advancement, and the freedom to contribute to company growth, using knowledge, skills, and unique talents.  Employees that have been with you for several years may have a desire to grow in this direction.  Internal candidates can transition easily and increase likelihood of cultural success.

#4) Look for Creative Thinking Strengths

In addition to excellent soft skills, you should look for strength in creative thinking and problem solving when hiring managers.  Managers and their teams benefit from strong creative thinking skills to effectively manage collaboration, encourage unique solutions, and improve outcomes.  Creative thinking is the use of natural talents and learned project exploration that allows managers and their teams to make effective decisions in a timely manner.  Managers and their teams should explore creative problem solving to fuel ongoing innovation and enhance collective efforts toward company growth.

#5) Productivity Driven

According to Gallup, great managers are driven by productivity.  In other words, they make decisions based on how they will impact their company’s productivity.  Productivity is ultimately what defines success in the workplace.  By definition, productivity is a measurement of how efficiently a worker or company can convert labor and materials into products or services.  Low productivity indicates a low level of personal and/or team efficiency.
Great managers aren’t just productive; they are productivity driven.  Therefore, you should search for managers who indicate motivation driven by productivity.  They will encourage others to work smarter, resulting in a higher level of efficiency that propels your company on the path to success.

#6) Explain the Challenges

Whether you use internal or external recruitment methods, you should explain the challenges of the open managerial role.  Some challenges are easier to overcome than others.  Managers must exhibit the necessary skills and traits to work through challenge.  Every individual possesses an instinctive problem solving needs or approach to challenge that will determine their actions toward resolving challenge.  All roles have inherent challenges and all companies have unique circumstances, cultural challenges, and other internal dynamics that can be difficult to navigate.  Good management integrates the need for productive performance with mentorship of individual contributors.  Share the benefits and unique challenges of a managerial role at your company. Transparency about management challenges will help your best candidates to understand the expectations for success in the role.

#7) Ask the Right Questions

Asking the right questions is critical to identifying the right management candidates.  Keeping in mind that all management experience is created equal, you should inquire about an applicant’s specific management role and associated responsibilities.  Inquire about the collective synergy of a previously managed team, the communication style, frequency and openness, as well as challenges of the role and how these were addressed and resolved.  You can ask applicants about their most important professional milestone, or major achievement in their career.  Specific insight into previous management roles will provide details about the type of management experience a candidate demonstrates. The distinctions will enable you to measure primary personal abilities against the expectations for success in a management role at your company.

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