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What Makes a Great Manager?

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

If you have had the great fortune of working for someone who made you feel you could achieve anything, then the chances are, you already know the answer to this question.

Great Managers are hard to find and even harder to retain.

Over the last 20 years, I've worked for mostly exceptional people who have challenged me, inspired me and pushed me to places I never thought I could get too.

A great Manager will set the bar so damn high and they'll never lower that $hit. Not ever, not for anyone, including themselves. In fact, a great Manager holds them self accountable at the highest standard. They are unshakeable, they don't get distracted by menial activities and they confident and considerate in each move they make.

Much like the lion you see in the photo.

A great Manager can recognise talent and take that person on a journey of growth - even when it's hard, even when it's tiring, even when those pesky hurdles appear.

A good Manager cannot do that; they have not yet gained competence or confidence to do that. Good Managers can deliver compliance and organisation but a great Manager is so much more!

1. A great Manager has feelings - and they are not afraid to show it!

Let's leave the robotics to the machines shall we?

The best Managers are those who can honestly tell their teams when they are feeling pressure. More often than not, teams want to help. In fact, they enjoy taking on more responsibility and being challenged. The best Managers do not do everything, they do what they're good at and seek help with the rest.

A great Manager will always hold difficult conversations with someone who is underperforming - and they'll do so with kindness first. A great manager will not demand better performance but will first seek the solution with curiosity and compassion.

2. Treat people fairly

A great Manager will always make sure that workload, expectations and progression plans are fairly distributed and available to everyone. I have seen first hand the part-time student or the almost retired man be pushed aside and 'written off'.

In sales, we must never assume anything - and it's the same with managing a team.

We cannot assume that just because someone works part-time they are not serious about a career in your field or that they care less about their roles. This assumption causes damage.

Everyone has the potential to be fantastic at something.

The job of the Manager is to extract that by treating each person fairly in their everyday work.

3. They shield the team

When a regional Director visits, or group Management arrive everyone working in that retail store is on a knife edge. Everyone is desperate to have 'a great visit' - but if something doesn't go so well, what does the Manager do? Blame the quality of staff? Blame the lack of resources? No. A great Manager shields the team and takes the feedback.

A great Manager thinks back to that interview question 'how do you handle criticism' and actually puts their answer into practise.

A great Manager will not be defensive or argumentative or seek to blame something. They firstly shield the team, absorb the message then take appropriate action to rectify the matter.

4. They communicate really well

Communication is the holy grail of any retail operation. Over communicate and the Manager is a micro-manager, yuk! Under-communicate and the team can go in every direction including going around in circles, also yuk!

A great Manager will always ensure the teams are well briefed for the week ahead. A great Manager will take the time to hold 1:1's with the people who need that extra support and a great Manager will always hold reflective hindsight sessions to discuss what went well last month/what could have been better/what can we do a little better this month.

The cycle of continuous learning and growing comes from fantastic communication.

5. Motivated and passionate

The best Managers will always be the most motivated and passionate people in the room. Why? If they are anything but that, I can predict the outcome of your business.

With passion and motivation the most explosive energy is born!

This energy is injected into the team spirit and beliefs - they believe they can (and often will) achieve all of the KPI's and more!

A great Manager is relentlessly passionate about people and business goals.

If you have one of these people in your team, recognise them, appreciate them and retain them. Once someone like this leaves, the ripples of impact are felt far and wide.

Having a sense of boundless optimism to focus on where the team are going.

So there you have it!

Now, my question to you is this: what are you going to do about recruiting great Managers? What are you going to do to become a better Manager?

A great Manager has the capacity to add 20% of revenue into a business within months. I have been there, seen it and done it multiple times - with due thanks to the leaders who came before me. When you work with great managers, chances are, you become one too!

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Other qualities that makes a great Manager include:

Being a great coach

Being a great listener

They make decisions

They give trust

A great Manager in retail must have the hearts of their people at the forefront of all their actions - because the people closest to the customer wins.

Look after them and watch conversion rates grow - more sales, more impact, more results!

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