Building a Great Manager: Identifying the Right Candidate

Shaking hands

Manager Development Blog Series

We’re back for Part two in BDR’s three-part blog series about how you can set up a new manager for success. In part one, we looked at why a growing company needs managers. In Part two, we’ll identify steps you can use to “build a great manager.” And finally, in our last installment, we’ll investigate what great managers do to be successful.

Building a Great Manager

When someone becomes a manager for the first time, their management skills are likely either non-existent or undeveloped. They may have the traits, potential, and desire to succeed as a manager but likely haven’t had the training or opportunity to fully develop the necessary skills. How can you position them to be successful?

In this article, we’ll look at how you can help a new manager succeed by:

  • Identifying the right person
  • Providing training & mentoring
  • Setting expectations & measurements
  • Giving rewards & encouragement

Identifying the Right Person

Not everyone is cut out for a management role. Being a great manager requires certain traits and qualities that are distinct from those of an employee. Gallup has stated that roughly one in ten people possess the traits and qualities of successful managers listed below.

  • Motivational – They motivate employees to take action
  • Assertive – They have assertiveness to get completions
  • Tenacious – They can overcome adversity and resistance
  • Accountable – They create a culture of clear accountability
  • Networkers – They build great relationships
  • Fair – They make decisions based on productivity, not politics

Source: adapted from: “Why Good Managers Are So Rare” by Randall Beck and James Harter, Harvard Business Review

If you’ve worked with the management candidate as an employee, you may have observed some of these traits in them. But be careful to look for someone with more than just a strong personality. Often in some employee groups (Technicians and Installers for example) there is one team member who everyone looks to for guidance and follows as an example. This is the “lead dog,” who may or may not make a great manager. They may just have a strong, charismatic personality that others are attracted to. Check whether they are helping others succeed. Are they driving the entire team forward or just putting themselves forward? Analyze what you’ve seen and dig deeper. They should be a team player if you plan to consider them for a management role.

Personality assessment can also help identify whether a candidate has the traits you are looking for. Recruit4Business can run an individual’s personality assessment against its library of management job descriptions to see if the candidate would be a good fit. This can save you time and money.

Here are three qualities to look at (beyond those already listed) as you consider manager candidates.

  1. Are they open to new ideas?

Managers must help the company and their team navigate change. If the candidate is not open to new ways of doing things, they may not be the person who can lead a department into the future. They should be able to listen to feedback from their team members on ideas for improvement. If they’re not open to new ideas, they likely won’t do this. The ideal candidate may not be the person who has been around the longest, especially if they are not willing to change.

2. Will they exemplify your company values?

A manager should be an extension of a company’s owner and live your company’s values. Will the candidate represent your company the way you want them to with your employees, customers, and vendors? Will they be a team player? Sometimes top-performing individuals may be more self-focused than company or team-focused. Be sure to take this into account as you consider candidates.

3. What is their potential?

One of the toughest things to do is look beyond a candidate’s existing skill set and project where they could go. As difficult as it is, it’s important. Will the skills and mindset of the candidate be able to scale as their department and the company grows? Look for someone that has the potential for great things and don’t hire just for what you need “right now.” Keep in mind that training and coaching will be part of the candidate’s development. Start building a training outline for your new manager that includes one-to-one coaching sessions with you as the owner, as well as management skills training from outside third parties. We’ll look at this more in the next section.

As you get ready to interview and assess candidates, build your list of qualities and skills – beyond work experience – that you will look for. How are their organizational skills? Do they communicate well (verbally and in writing)? Are they more team-focused or more individual-focused? These are just a few to consider.

In our next installment, we will discuss how to set your Manager up for success if their new role. Stay tuned! Want to know more about giving your new Managers the tools to succeed and help drive your business forward? Check out our online workshop: Creating the Next Generation of Company Managers.