Aaaand ACTION: The Many Roles of a Superstar Manager


Good managers are hard to find. In fact, a study completed by Gallup showed that only 1 out of every 10 managers possess a natural ability to effectively manage their direct reports. Does this mean that 9 out of 10 managers in your organization are ineffective? Absolutely not! While the skills needed to successfully manage staff might not be innate in all, they are still skills and thus can be learned. It just takes a little more self-awareness and work for those managers who don’t have … the force.

Just because a manager isn’t naturally warm, good at delegating, organized, or nurturing, doesn’t mean they can’t learn to dive into a character who is. As long as managers possess a working knowledge of the fundamentals of effective management, anyone can deliver the performance of a lifetime. Just like any other behavior, over time, acting will make way to habit and voila! Superstar managers are born.


Here are some key roles every manager should be playing:



The Superhero Shield:

Some managers share too much with employees. Transparency is certainly important in any organization, but too much raining down from above can deflate even the toughest by-standing employee. A manager’s duty is to shield employees from the storm and filter the information so only the pertinent and relevant pieces make it through. The manager should also get comfortable as the fall guy in any given situation, and be prepared to take one for the team. If the employees see the manager taking those bullets for them, then they’ll start taking bullets for their manager, too. 


The Coach:

A manager’s role is first and foremost to get things done. This is of course accomplished by the careful coordination and delegation of tasks and roles based on the skills of the workforce. Coaches need to find a balance between taking advantages of their employees’ strengths and providing them with the necessary nudges to help them step out of their comfort zones and develop other competencies. In addition, coaches and managers need to be able to choose employees based on skills and help others develop other skills without disheartening or frustrating them … and then do it all over again. 


The Sensei:

Sometimes employees need a kick in the pants to motivate them to work at their full potential. Whether this is a kung-fu kick to the mat or a purely metaphorical push, a good sensei-manager has the patience to learn what it is that motivates each employee. The sensei also excels at delegating the wax-on, wax-off tasks that will teach the employee the moves and skills necessary to solve problems on their own, sometimes without realizing that they were learning at all. 


The Friendly Neighbor:

A manager does not have to be everybody’s best friend; in fact, a manager’s responsibilities to the organization make that an impossibility 100% of the time. But sometimes an open ear on the other side of the garden fence is what an employee really needs in order to work through a tough issue and come to a solid solution under his or her own steam. And if they can’t, then this is the perfect time to offer advice or an opinion they might find valuable. A good manager, like a friendly neighbor, is someone employees feel they can approach with anything and the time they spend in conversation is never wasted. 


With the success of an organization tied to employee performance and engagement, it’s important that all staff receive the same level of leadership and manager-care, regardless of what is going on behind the scenes. While it can take some time to learn what motivates each employee to perform at their strongest, and which manager roles suit each employee and situation the best, practice makes perfect. And it’s all worth it when you can stand up at the end of it and receive that glowing accolade for best performance by a manager!

Give your managers the tools they need to become performance management superstars!