Good managers are hard to come by, great managers are one in a million, but they can make all the difference in the world to your workplace. Here’s how to know if you’re onto a winner with your boss…

It’s pretty easy to know if you have a bad manager. Probably because there are so many of them around – we’re all familiar with them. (You might even be familiar with one right now.)

Bad managers are often referred to in whispered murmurs around the workplace with terms like, ‘micro-manager’, ‘cold’ and ‘doesn’t have a clue’. If they’re not managing staff to within an inch of their lives, they’re at the other end of the spectrum, hiding away under piles of paperwork (or wax pots), being completely unapproachable and avoiding taking responsibility for the direction of their team.

But there are a rare few leaders who sit right in the middle of the scales, and if you’re lucky enough to have stumbled upon one, or are one yourself, you’ll know because:

1. Your manager leads by example

There’s an old saying, ‘Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.’ It’s common place for managers to reprimand staff for one thing while turning around and blatantly doing it themselves. We all know the boss who tells you not to take samples from the salon cupboard while leaving at the end of the day with an armful for themselves. Anyone can talk the talk, but only great leaders will actually walk it. 

2. Your manager looks out for you

The manager’s title has the strange ability to make otherwise affable people become cold, faceless company robots who aren’t at all approachable and look at you like a number, instead of as an individual. But great leaders see their employees for who they are and seek to embrace it wherever possible, whether it be showing interest in your life, or extending you support when you need it most. The very best bosses understand that happy, valued employees are productive employees.

3. Your manager doesn’t breathe down your neck

Great managers never micro-manage. They instinctively understand that breathing down your neck all day only serves to promote tension and self-doubt in your abilities. Instead, they extend trust to staff, validating why they hired you in the first place  – because they know you’re good at what you do!

4. Your manager has the balance right

Many managers make the mistake of making work their entire life, and in doing so, lose that spark of passion for what they’re doing along the way. If your manager openly displays passion for their job, but is equally able to pack it away at the end of the day and clock off and have a meaningful life outside of work, they are one of a special, elite few who understand the need to balance work and life, and are able to set that example for their staff, too.

5. Your manager is a kick-arse problem solver

There are managers who make it clear not to bother them with ‘your problems’ and then their are managers whose doors are always open, who are only too happy to roll up their sleeves to help you in a bind. Whether its as simple as taking the time to listen to an issue you’re having or brainstorming innovative solutions to a greater team crisis, the best managers are not only superb at identifying problems, they’re legendary at solving them.

6. Your manager promotes a team environment

Some managers keep themselves as separate as possible from staff, to the point where employees are left feeling like mere underlings who dare not approach their door or interrupt their day with smalltalk, but the very best managers go out of their way to make everyone feel like part of the team, all working toward the same goal. Whether it be hosting monthly team lunches or regularly touching base with everyone to check you’re all okay and on the same page, great managers understand that when staff feel supported, there’s nothing they won’t be able to achieve.

Have your say: Do you have, or are you, a great manager? How important do you think management skills are to your business’s success?