The 4 Characteristics of a Great Manager

Small retail business owners face a variety of demands. Products, services, employees, finances, customers, facilities, marketing – all require careful tending.
That tending can be all encompassing. 80 hour weeks are common! Keeping all of those “plates” spinning takes time, energy, and dedication.
The “bad news” is there is one more demand that requires attention from small retail business owners – and it doesn’t typically get that attention. This demand drives everything that happens in your business, good or bad.
That demand? The quality of your work environment – your team’s culture.
When your work environment consistently treats team members and customers with dignity, trust, and respect, employee engagement goes up. Customer service goes up. And – profits go up. The benefits are tangible.
When your work environment consistently treats team members and customers with distrust and distain, engagement drops. Service drops. Profits drop.
Crafting a team culture based on trust, dignity, and respect requires a great boss, a manager who is willing to set forth clear expectations, model those expectations, and coach everyone on the team to deliver on those expectations, every day.
Here are the four characteristics of a great manager – and how those characteristics help that manager build workplace inspiration.
First, a great manager LOVES his or her employees. If we think back to the best bosses we ever had, bosses that created a safe, fun, productive team environment, we remember ways they genuinely cared for their people. Great managers experience great joy when interacting with their team members, when team members grow and succeed, and when team members cooperate to get things done.
Second, a great manager creates HIGH STANDARDS. Team members need to know exactly what’s expected of them – they need to know what a great job looks like. Great managers set clear performance standards for the business, for teams, and for team members. Goals are specific, measurable, and are monitored closely. Values are formalized and are defined in observable, tangible, behavioral terms. If your team has an “integrity” value, you must outline a select few behaviors that clearly define how you want that value lived every interaction! A behavior like “I do what I say I will do” perfectly outlines what you require from every team member – clear agreements, embracing responsibility, and delivering on promises. That’s integrity in action.
Third, a great manager is a ROLE MODEL of these expectations. Lousy leaders might create high standards but they don’t apply them to themselves! They “manage by announcements.” The publish the new rules, tell everyone to abide by them, but don’t embrace the new rules in their day to day interactions. When leaders do not demonstrate valued behaviors, those behaviors are seen as “lies” – not relevant and not important. Great managers live their team’s valued behaviors every moment.
Fourth, a great manager HOLDS EVERYONE ACCOUNTABLE for those expectations. When expectations are clear and expectations are modeled by the manager, team members get the message: this is important. They learn they must deliver on performance commitments and model the team’s valued behaviors in every interaction. If they’re unable to deliver agreed-to performance or values, they won’t be able to remain on the team. They need to be “set free” – released from employment. Team members that do embrace these expectations are celebrated and valued.
Don’t leave your team culture to chance. Take charge of your work environment! Don’t be afraid to set clear standards for both performance and values – then hold everyone accountable for them.
Your team, business, and customers will thank you.
Contributed by S. Chris Edmonds, the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris provides high-impact keynotes, executive briefings, and executive consulting. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn how to craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution in Chris’ new book, The Culture Engine, available now. His blog, podcasts, free assessments, research, and videos can be found at

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