The employee's relationship with their manager has a direct correlation to their engagement. Whether someone is in accounting, marketing, HR, sales, blue collar, white collar - it doesn't matter. People want to know they are being groomed to grow both intellectually and in their role to eventually take on a bigger role.

If employees can see the bigger picture, which takes more time from managers to continuously explain/paint for them, then they feel a stronger connection to the company, and to their manager. Good managers excel at delegation, managing processes and producing results. Good people managers excel at these things, but also excel in developing their people and painting that picture.

What good people managers have in common:

They care - and I know, this seems elementary and obvious, but it's not. We live in such a social world where everything is online, and people are seeing their friends' posts of how caring their employer or manager is, and if as a manager, you're not doing those things, you're losing a race you don't even know you're in. It can be something as simple as a text if you know an employee is having a bad day or if they did something well. Letting them know you're thinking about them and that their accomplishment didn't go unnoticed. 

They're sought out often for advice. Look around the company. If there's a manager, director, vice president that more people lower in the food chain gravitate towards and seek advice from, why is that? Now it could be that the person if simply nice and not that they're a great manager; however, because there are fewer barriers to connecting with them, people take the path of least resistance. But most of the time, people go to those who they have heard are really good managers. People talk, and while we oftentimes think it's always going to be about the negative and the gossip, it's about who the best players are, who the best managers are, what people like about their manager, what the manager did to help the employee get promoted. 

They have a high level of emotional intelligence and are self-aware. Managers who are self-aware know how people view them, they're actually listening and not thinking about what they're going to say next or concerned about cutting people off. They listen and then draw on their own experiences to provide insight.    

They retain the best players. Make note that retaining people for the wrong reasons, just to be able to claim low turnover numbers, is the sign of a terrible manager, and this does happen; however, when managers are able to retain their best people, their best direct reports, that's a sign of a great manager.  

They get their staff promoted. Again, don't be fooled with this one. It's important to have managers who promote from within; however, I've also seen managers who promote for the sake of just promoting so they're seen positively among their peer group. 

It all starts at the top. People mimic their leaders - they mimic the good characteristic and the bad, because when someone staff-level starts out, they don't know what's good or bad. What they know is, my manager is in charge of people, and if they see a behavior pattern and see that someone is producing results, they begin to act that same way.

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Published on: Aug 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.