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Desired traits for ‘good’ managers revealed

December 8th, 2010

by HC Human Capital Magazine


In what is seen as a dramatic change in attitudes from a year ago, employees think trustworthiness and openness is now the most important characteristic of a good manager.

Compared to this time last year, trustworthiness and openness has jumped from seventh to number one on the Top Ten Characteristics of a Good Manager list generated by Leadership Management Australasia (LMA).

The list has been drawn from LMA’s late November L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Education and Direction) Survey of 3,000 employees across Australia and New Zealand, conducted by Chase Research*. The ongoing L.E.A.D. Survey, which monitors workplace issues across all major sectors, has been running for 10 years.

LMA’s managing director, Grant Sexton said what employees expect of their managers has changed dramatically over the past year. A new number one characteristic and some major changes in the Top Ten present managers with new challenges in fulfilling the needs and expectations of their employees.

While having managers who clearly communicate about the future remains important at equal second, the number one characteristic of good managers is now being trustworthy and open in their approach, Sexton said.

“Clearly, if organisations want to improve the performance and productivity of their business they must foster trust and embrace openness in their workplace. Employees, frustrated with the extended period of lack of appreciation in their efforts and sacrifices to support their company through the difficulties of the GFC, are expecting managers to step up with a truthful and honest approach to what the future holds.

“Employees are increasingly looking to their managers to be worthy of their trust, and open in their approach to management. Also, this means managers need to demonstrate to employees that they are willing to listen to employees and their input in order to earn their trust,” Sexton added.

This new perspective on the characteristics of a good manager is echoed in the growing importance of managers giving their people the space to do their work and supporting them at the same time (up from 5th to equal 2nd), and providing the resources employees need to do their job (up from equal 11th to equal 7th).

Sexton said the underlying message is managers have to re-earn the trust they lost due to their organisation’s delayed and protracted return to pre-GFC conditions.

“To re-earn their employees trust, managers will increasingly need to allow their employees the space to manage their own work, provide the necessary support and resources to do so, and be willing to provide feedback and recognition regularly,” he said. “Furthermore, it is essential that managers fulfil their promises and ‘walk the talk”.”

Characteristics of good managers – November 2010
. A person’s working relationship with their immediate manager or managers, with whom they have frequent contact, can have a significant impact on their performance and satisfaction in their role. What would you say are the top five most important characteristics for a good manager to have, in order to positively influence your performance in your role at work?


Characteristics of good managers (employee view) Rank 2009 Rank 2010
Is trustworthy and open in approach 7 1
Clearly communicates where we are going 1 =2
Gives me the space to do my own work, but supports me 5 =2
Listens to and respects my input into decisions 4 4
Gives regular and honest feedback on how I am going 2 5
Is fair and even handed/makes reasonable demands 3 6
Provides the resources I need to do my job =11 =7
Recognises me for extra efforts/results 10 =7
Coaches and develops me 9 9
Trusts me with challenging work 8

* 14% of the respondents were from New Zealand yielding the same results

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