Good manager

What Makes a Good Manager?

What makes a manager good, and why is it so important?
(600 words)
IELTS Reading Questions:
Matching Information & Short Answer Questions

A  Having a good manager is important. It may even be the difference between an enjoyable job and an unpleasant one, according to management training consultant Victor Lipton. He adds that a survey showed that 56% of employees would turn down a 10% pay rise to stay with a great boss. So, what makes a really good manager?

B  One of the most obvious qualities is competence – knowledge, skills, and the ability to do the job well are important in any management position. In addition to this, Lipton says that good managers also tend to have integrity, positive energy and lead by example. They’re also likely to have a low staff turnover – if a manager has a number of employees who have been on the team for a long time, that’s a good sign, he says.

C  Another important quality is the ability to build good relationships with employees. These relationships are key to successful management, Lipton says, but not all managers are good at this. Partly, this is because some companies choose managers for the wrong reasons, he explains, for example focusing more on authority and technical expertise than relationship-building skills. To build good relationships, open communication is important, says career coach Jennifer Herrity, as is being present in the workplace and getting to know the team.

D  Making sure that employees feel valued and appreciated is also key. However, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, even when managers do appreciate the work of their employees, this appreciation isn’t always felt by the staff. It suggests that managers should recognise and praise employees’ good work regularly, check-in with them often, and allow some flexibility around working hours to ensure that employees do feel valued.

E  Another way to make sure employees feel valued is to ask them for their help, says poet and writer David Whyte. Whyte gives seminars about leadership, and in these he explains that a leader asking their staff for help is a way of showing that the employee has skills and gifts that the manager doesn’t have. It communicates that, ‘you are better in this area than I am […] I need you, and you are appreciated’, he explains, and adds that we all need to be recognised for what we have to offer.

F  Writer and speaker Simon Sinek believes that another quality of a good leader is that they make us feel safe. This creates trust and a sense of belonging, he says, and one way that managers do this is by putting the employees first. He gives an example of an American manufacturing company that lost 30% of its orders in the 2008 recession and needed to save $10 million. The board of directors discussed the idea of laying people off, but the manager didn’t accept this; instead, to save money, he created a plan for all employees (including management) to take four weeks unpaid leave whenever they wanted. He summarised that it’s better that everyone suffers a little than any one person has to suffer a lot, Sinek says.

G  The result of this was that the company saved $20 million. In addition to that, morale went up, and people started helping each other by trading time off: for example, those that could afford it took five weeks unpaid leave, meaning that others only had to take three weeks off. As Sinek puts it, when people feel safe and protected, the natural reaction is to trust and cooperate – employees will sacrifice and combine their strengths and talents to achieve more. When people feel safe and feel like they belong, remarkable things happen, he says.

IELTS Reading Questions for A Good Manager:
Matching Information & Short Answer Questions.

Sources and links from A Good Manager.

– Here are the links for the three Victor Lipman articles about management on the Forbes website.
10% Raise
Bad Managers
Good Managers
– 2014 Survey data about employment preferences by the BCG – feeling appreciated was number 1 (1)
Article in the Harvard Business Review about making sure employees feel appreciated.
Article by Jennifer Herrity on about how managers can build good relationships.
David Whyte talking about help on Sam Harris’ podcast. 
Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about leaders.
– Photo by fauxels on Pexels.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Adeliya

    Please explain the answer to the first question, I can not understand why there is G and not F. I will props to you

    1. Nick

      Hi Adeliya.
      The answer to the first question is D.
      Do you mean question 2?

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