The Most Important Management Skills That Distinguish Average Managers From Truly Great Managers

suit silhouette copy.jpg

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” 

- Peter Drucker

What is an effective manager and what do they do? Like everything in life, skills vary and managing people is also a skill that some people just seem to be good at. But management is a soft skill and so it can be difficult to know what it is that separates skilled managers from less skilled managers.

What good managers look like

We all know some of the signs of good managers.  These are managers who are respected by their employees. Managers whose employees are high performers and who go the extra mile to delight. Effective managers achieve a lot without seeming to try hard.

What struggling managers look like

On the other hand there are managers who have staff problems. Their staff miss deadlines and always have excuses for poor performance. Managers whose employees don’t respect them and may even actively dislike them. Managers whose staff do tasks with grudging compliance. It’s not that these managers aren’t intelligent, educated or hard working – in fact they are probably working hard to cover up the shortfall from their staff. They just aren’t effective at getting people to do what they want them to do. The unspoken truth is that even though they are good at their job, they are just not skilled at being managers.

My study of management skills has led me to the conclusion that there are two parts to manager skills:

  1. Knowing what to do and;
  2. Knowing how to do it well.

And then of course to actually be an effective manager you need to put these management skills into practice. Being a good manager consists of a lot of  small (but effective) actions done on a frequent and regular basis. 

Tip: Traditional leadership training said you must inspire your staff, but it didn’t say how, leadership training said to be confident, but it didn’t say how. Leadership training said motivate your employees, but it didn’t say how. That's why I've made the program -  to give you the toolbox to deal with the day-to-day issues that every manager faces. And it’s not just theory, because that’s no help in the real world. Boss.Camp will show you exactly how to motivate your employees, including what words to use.

These are the Characteristics of Effective Managers

Effective Managers Increase Employee Performance


“The true measure of the value of any business leader and manager is performance.”

- Brian Tracy

The effective manager makes a significant positive impact to the performance of their team. A manager is responsible not just for their own results but the results of every employee that reports to them. And the effective manager acts to maximize the total of these contributions. The effective manager knows that improving the performance of their whole team by 10% is worth a lot more than improving their own performance by 10%. But the effective manager also knows how to improve the performance of their team in a time efficient manner.

The effective manager secures the buy-in of their employees upfront instead of addressing performance after the fact.

Effective Managers Build Effective Employer-Employee Relationships

"A company is people. Employees want to know – am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted."

- Richard Branson

The effective manager cares for their employees and builds good employer-employee relationships. But the effective manager also knows the difference between being friends and acting in a friendly manner. The effective manager is respected by their employees but they realize that it is not essential for the staff to like them or to be their friend.  The effective manager rarely uses their role power to give direct orders to their employees which results in grudging compliance. The effective manager works through relationships and makes requests of their staff. 

The effective manager helps their employees to find value and importance in their responsibilities. And by extension, the effective manager helps employees to find value and importance in themselves. 

Do you know that weekly one-on-one meetings with your employees are the key to building effective employer-employee relationships. That's why I made a mini-course on one-on-ones (including a one-on-one template with a one-on-one meeting agenda) which will show you 3 Easy Steps 2 1 on 1's. 

Effective Managers Know Their Employees and What Motivates Them

“An employee's motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”

- Bob Nelson

The effective manager knows that people are different. People have different needs, preferences and motivators. So the effective manager knows that the same management style doesn’t work with everyone. And so the effective manager knows how to adjust their communications and management style to be effective with different people.

The effective manager also knows the strengths, weaknesses and interests of their staff to match the right employee to the right job.

How well do you know your employees? Do you know what motivates them?  Click here for the secrets to identifying employee behavioral styles. 

Effective Managers Hire the Best Employees

"People are not your most important asset. The right people are."

- Jim Collins

The effective manager knows that the single most important thing to get right is to start with getting the right employees in the right jobs. The effective manager also know that hiring the best employees leads to:

  • Increased employee performance and productivity;
  • Increased employee engagement and;
  • Increased employee retention.

The effective manager knows how to evaluate prospective employees to choose the best candidate for the job.

The effective manager knows the unexpectedcosts of a bad hire. The effective manager takes extra precautions to make sure they do not make a bad hire.  Just how much can a single bad hire cost you? Find out the costs of a bad hire here… 

Hiring For Performance Includes New Employee Integration

The effective manager knows that hiring for performance doesn’t end with signing an employment contract. The effective manager ensures new employees successfully transition into their new jobs and become well integrated, high performing team members

More on employee onboarding for performance here.

Effective Managers Use Inspiring Performance Communication to Manage Employee Performance

A manager is required to do some unpleasant tasks such as hold employees accountable, address underperformance and dismiss staff. The effective manager addresses small issues promptly before they become significant problems. The effective manager can do unpleasant things in a pleasant manner. 

The effective manager also communicates clearly what their performance expectations are. The effective manager promptly tells their employees when their performance is below standard. The effective manager does not leave communication and surprises for the performance review. 

The effective manager does not negatively criticize employees work. The effective manager rather uses Inspiring Performance Communication to motivate employees and guide employee performance.

Do your employees have a performance shortfall? Use our performance feedback worksheet to identify employee performance issues… 

Effective Managers Develop Their Employees

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

- Harvey S. Firestone

The effective manager is demanding and supportive at the same time. They demand high performance and growth from their employees but they support them to achieve it. The effective manager uses employee development to increase employee performance as well as engage and motivate their staff. The effective manager acts as a coach to guide employees to improve their own skills and abilities.

Are there skills that you would like your employees to improve? Find out how to identify employee skills development requirements here…

Effective Managers Delegate

"Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority and don't interfere."

- Ronald Reagan

The effective manager does not hold onto tasks because they are “the only one that can do them right”. The effective manager develops their staff by giving them stretching assignments. The effective manager does not have to be an expert at everything. But rather is an expert at engaging people with the right skills to do a better job than the manager could do themselves.

Are there tasks that one of your employees could be doing:

  • Instead of you?
  • Better than you?
  • At a lower cost than you?

Find out how to identify what to delegate here…

Effective Managers Encourage Learning

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

-General - George Smith Patton, Jr.

The effective manager remembers that there was a time when they did not know how to do their job and that they made mistakes in the course of their own learning. The effective manager allows their employees to make mistakes as they themselves learn.

And the effective manager does not solve employee problems for them – they encourage employees to solve their own problems.

Effective Managers Retain Good Employees

“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The effective manager knows that increasing employee performance is not a zero sum game. That is to say they know that the interests of the company are not in conflict with the interests of it’s employees. Because the effective manager knows that people want to be;

  • Acknowledged;
  • Do work that is meaningful and;
  • Grow and be challenged.

And the effective manager uses these basic common desires to give employees what they want while improving performance for the organization. And so the mark of a truly good manager is someone who delivers results while improving employee retention. 


Of course this is a lot about what a good manager does. It sounds like a lot of work. The truly effective manager knows how to do all of the above but they also know how to do it in a proven and time efficient manner.


Do you know that regular, high quality one-on-ones with your employees are the single easiest management practice. Do one-on-ones right and not only can you can take care of almost all your management responsibilities in one go but they will also deliver you to manager Nirvana . It almost seems too good to be true – which could be why some managers don’t believe in them.

The reason why not every manager believes in one-on-ones is because not every manager knows how to do fast, high quality one-on-ones. As with anything in life, do it wrong and you're simply not going to see the results. But do it right and one-on-ones will change your life and deliver you to management nirvana. 

And the reason why bosses and employees have poor one on ones is simply because no-one shows you how to have high quality One-ones. I know none of my my bosses every taught me this skill and clearly no-one ever showed them either. What I do with Manager Foundation is that I show you the real world boss skills that you need but they don't teach you in university. That's why I made a mini-course on one-on-ones (including a one-on-one template with a one-on-one meeting agenda) which will show you 3 Easy Steps 2 1 on 1's. What I expect you'll find is that you already know some of the content on some type of level but maybe you're not putting it into practice. This will help. As I say this is essential for new managers and helpful for experienced managers.


Do you have any comments or suggestions on what makes and effective manager? Help the rest of us by sharing in the comments below.

I hope you find these free insights and actionable tips helpful and inspiring. The best way to learn these skills is by doing one of the training modules and if you would like to learn more I would encourage you to take a course. This is how I support the creation of this content. Please see the side bar for course links or go to the training page to find out more.

Boss Camp

Some people are naturally demanding. They get promoted as managers because they get results. The problem is they burn through employees which is expensive, unsustainable and makes work the four letter word that we hate. Other people are naturally supportive. They are better liked by their staff but they aren’t good at producing results and lose the respect of their employees. This is the management paradox - why jerks get ahead, nice guys finish last and employees leave jobs. The mark of a truly great boss is the ability to produce results and retain employees.

The challenge is that demanding and supportive are on diametrically opposite sides of personality scales, this makes it an uncommon skill. The secret ninja manager skill is to be both demanding and supportive at the same time and WWW.BOSS.CAMP will show you how with ethical management skills. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to motivate employees,
  • What are bad employee motivators,
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
  • How leaders get power.