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What Do Good Managers Do?

Understand your management role and underground.

Image by Precious Madubuike on Unsplash

Do you know what managers do?

They control resources, organize, plan, provide feedback, have meetings, etc.

Do you know what good managers do?

That is a bit more complicated to answer, isn’t it?

We can call management underground for help. That’s a secret organization of good managers who share their genius with others. They are the most respectable people you can meet at work and their impact goes far beyond work.

How can you identify a good manager?

Unless you were a good student at school, you usually don’t use any formal material to evaluate if you are a good or bad manager. But your feeling is guiding you.

People feel if their manager is good.

We can list qualities that good managers have. But people need to feel them first. So, we can speak about a management star. So, how to make people feel that you are a good manager?

The most important element of management greatness is that people can trust you. It is the essence of any good relationship. People who trust each other feel good about themselves.

So, the first and only question of evaluation if you are a good manager is:

Do they trust me?

Or evaluate your manager by asking:

Do I trust her/him?

If the answer is not at this point. Well… I am sorry, but you are not a good manager or you are unlucky enough not to work with a good manager either.

Good managers build trust

I like thinking about managers as teachers. They have authority and knowledge. They help students to build their skills and support them. But most importantly, we trust that they mean it well with us.

We need to trust that they mean it well with us.

If this is true, work is so much easier and more fun. The culture is open, new ideas are pouring in. The company prospers.

So, if anything is crucial for a management role, it is trust. It should be the main responsibility of any manager, to make sure people trust her/him. Nothing else matters more for the role than that.

Building trust is difficult and takes time.

This task is also the most complex. Trust cannot be taught. It needs a lot of social sensitivity, skills, understanding, listening, and consistency.

Who do you trust at work? Who is your ally? Why?

There are ways that you can do to build it. Positive psychology provides several resources and suggests that this help:

  • Be true to your word

  • Make decisions carefully

  • Be consistent

  • Be honest

  • Help people

  • Avoid self-promotion

  • Show your feelings

You don’t need to start doing it all at once. Test what works for you and your teams. Likewise, if you want to build trust with your manager.

Good managers understand the business

This sounds trivial, right? Yet, so many managers actually don’t understand the business. They don’t know what they are doing. That’s a problem.

If they don’t know, you don’t know either.

How can you lead people when you don’t know where you are heading? A classic example is your regular meetings. Do you get to know what is on? Does the manager tell you relevant news you need for your work?

I attended too many meetings on which they only said: ‘The business is good.’

Great, thank you for saying that. It helps me to work better. No, good managers explain what is happening and why. The why is so underestimated and so not used that it’s outraging.

If you don’t know why you need to perform in a certain way, how do you feel? Perhaps demotivated, calling your work a dirty monkey job. Why gives us meaning and purpose. Why helps us be better.

Good managers always provide why-s. If they don’t know, they will find out.

Good managers let you be

Some time back, I wrote a fun article about management anti-heroes. I was inspired by bad examples of managers you can meet in organizations.

So, it is simple. If you want to be a good manager, don’t be a micromanager anti-hero.

Do you know these types who you constantly feel behind your back? They are giving you tasks, so you don't get bored. They are checking how you did the tasks and when you leave home. They are providing you with feedback every week.

Ah, they're all over the place.

Good managers let you have your space and pace.

It is an incredible treat if you have an easy-going manager. When she/he does not stress you about deadlines if she/he lets you go to the doctor without requesting sick leave.

Good managers care about you. They are around, but luckily not all the time. So, they should be involved, but not overinvolved or completely invisible.

Good managers know this balance.

Good managers work underground

As a big fan of 80s underground music, I can tell you that things behind the scenes drive the revolution. Not just in the music, but in any area.

Your managers need to work in iceberg mode.

You see what they do when they are walking around the office. But you don’t know what they do in their office. What secrets do they cook?

The most important work good managers do is not visible, it is underground.

When I led my teams, they hardly knew what I was doing to make them promoted, to get them forward in their career, or to sweeten their salaries. Management job happens outside of team meetings. Good managers synthesize information and actively work with them.

Imagine managers as drivers on a highway. Cars are moving forward. Some are slower, some faster. Some take advantage, some predict and react fast to unexpected events. A management job is exactly that.

You are constantly watching what is around you and how to work with it. Good managers seize opportunities. Have vision and motivation to do more.

If you trust your manager, you know he shares information and gets things done together with you. You pull on the same rope.

Gallup studied managers around the world and identified that their job no.1 is the development of others — isn’t that great? Working underground simply pays off. Concluding their study with:

Bad managers focus on the past — what can’t be changed. Average managers focus on the present — the issue at hand. But the best managers focus on the future — what does future success look like?


Management is the best job in the world. To be happy, ask yourself if you trust your manager and if your team trusts you. Yes? Great. No? Work on it! There is nothing more important than trust.

Good managers understand the balance of when to add more work and when to help others. Don’t be afraid of letting people be lazy. Be fair. I am sure you don’t work all the time either.

Last but not least, look in front of you. As you sit in the car, check the back, but focus on what is up around you and in front of you. Get an awesome future for yourself and your team with a bit of wisdom and underground smartness.

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