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Identifying what a great manager looks like

Posted on 24 November 2021

Identifying what a great manager looks like

5-minute read

The phrase ‘people don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses’ has become a bit of a cliché in recent years but still holds truth as to one of the biggest reasons why talent might be leaving a company.

Having the right manager beside you at any stage in your career could drastically help boost your long-term prospects. The difficult thing however is identifying what a great manager actually looks like, especially if you only have a short interaction with them during a hiring process before having to decide on their team or not.

This is why we wrote this article. Having spoken with hundreds of hiring managers, teams and employees over the years, we have put together a list of activities we feel great managers do, which should shed some light on how to identify them during your job search or probational period. Allowing you to commit long-term to the company, knowing your career will be well looked after.


Offer clear direction

Great managers will give clear direction for you within your role. They will express how you contribute to the wider team and organisation and will help paint a picture as to how you will develop personally and professionally over the coming years.

Sometimes directions change, the business might pivot and when this happens, great managers will be open and honest but then explain the newly adjusted course to you.


Work with you, for you

The best managers will work with you to develop a tailored career roadmap based on your personal and professional goals and then overlay their own thoughts around where they feel you can further develop.

The key aspect here is tailored, having a manager that proactively seeks to understand where you are right now and where you want to be, is truly one of the best gifts an organisation can give you and if you find yourself with this manager around you, do your best to soak up their knowledge where you can.


Provide real feedback

Feedback can come in many forms from formal feedback by way of reviews or more informal feedback at desk. Depending on the reasoning for feedback it could be positive or negative, the best managers do not shy away from the difficult conversations that revolve around negative feedback. Instead, they tackle it head-on and make the conversation constructive allowing you to truly learn and grow from the feedback, not simply walk away disappointed or angry.


Listen without judgement

One of the best things a great manager can offer is an ear to listen when you need it, but listen without judgement. Help find a solution if required, or simply just stay silent and listen with intent.


Seek out opportunities for you

Okay, here we mean seeking out opportunities for you within the organisation. A great manager that understands your personal career roadmap will often take it a step further and proactively seek out opportunities that can help you push yourself towards your goals.

This might be technical progression, further responsibilities or training opportunities.


Leave the door open

Finally, and this is when you know you are truly working alongside a great manager. The very best managers will always leave the door open for you when you decide to depart from the team or company. They will thank you for your work and genuinely wish you well in your next venture.

The opening phrase ‘people don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses’ isn’t always the truth, sometimes better opportunities present themselves to you, and when this happens, your great manager will respect and understand.


Bad managers can become great managers, just as much as great managers can become bad. Now you know what great managers look like in terms of their activities, it is down to you to identify when your manager dips below your personal expectations of greatness, how do you respond.


If you took something away from this article or feel someone could benefit from reading it themselves, we would encourage you to share it with them. As we all continue to learn a little more each day and help each other to become better, collectively we will bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.​

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