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How to hire great managers

Written by: Elizabeth Walker
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Published on December 30, 2022.

Managers are critical to any company’s overall success. Effective managers can inspire their teams to grow in their careers, while bad managers can contribute to turnover and a poor company reputation. But recruiting talented managers is challenging. In fact, Gallup1 found that 82% of businesses make the wrong hire when it comes to management.

Knowing how to hire a manager can help you build a diverse team of workers that will strengthen your company’s culture. While different industries require different managerial skills, there are certain aspects all great managers have that will make them successful.

In this blog, we’ll give you tips and tricks to help you find top manager talent so you can make the right hire for your organization.

Learn how fringe benefits can help recruit managers and leaders in our complete guide

What are the different types of managers?

A manager is responsible for managing a team of employees or operations to maintain efficient business functions for a company and ensure that tasks are completed correctly and on time.

Some managers are considered “people managers,” or those with employees who work under them as direct reports, while other managers don’t usually manage people. Managerial positions that typically don’t manage people include project managers, operations managers, account managers, and finance managers.

The three most common types of people managers are:

  1. Senior managers: These are ‘C-suite’ executives responsible for running the company’s daily operations. Senior managers differ from the Board of Directors, as the board has overall company authority rather than a manager-level role.
  2. Middle managers: Those in this management role may be branch managers, regional managers, or country managers (if in an international company), and are considered middle management within an organization.
  3. Lower managers: The lower managers, sometimes called frontline managers or team leaders, manage the duties of regular employees.

A manager's daily tasks depend on business needs and industry. However, some duties are standard. For example, people managers must be able to lead their teams effectively and ensure their direct reports are performing at their best.

On an administrative level, managers must work with other department managers to set policies, goals, and objectives that will ensure departmental success. Managers should also be able to analyze pertinent data, such as finances, sales reports, and individual performance reviews, to monitor productivity and determine how to be more efficient.

Nine essential tips to help you hire a great manager

Step 1: Create an appealing workplace culture

One of the best ways to attract and hire great managers is to create an appealing company culture. Good employees are drawn to businesses with a positive workplace culture. This is particularly true for manager-level employees, as they typically research a company thoroughly before applying to an open position.

To create a healthy company culture, inspire your employees, promote good work-life balance, and provide ample opportunities for professional development. You should also create safe spaces and openly recognize and reward good work.

Boosting your benefits package is a great way to improve culture too. By offering a personalized health benefit, like a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or stipend, allowing a flexible work schedule, or having unique perks like fertility benefits, commuter benefits, or tuition reimbursement, you can show your manager candidates that your company cares.

Step 2: Draft a compelling job description

Once your company culture has been reviewed, it’s time to write a winning job description. To hire a great manager, write a job description that accurately describes the role in detail.

You should include daily job requirements, necessary qualifications and skills, and your organization’s leadership style, so candidates can determine if your company will be a good fit for their career interests and work style. You should also include your company’s culture to give applicants an idea of the work environment.

Other elements to include in your job posting are your company’s values and goals, education or certification requirements, and any information that would interest a management candidate, such as work hours, benefits, compensation, and job location. You should also include whether the position is in-office, hybrid, or remote.

Step 3: Promote from within your organization

Depending on the role, company size, and your business needs, you may not need to look outside your organization when searching for great managers. While it’s best to consider a mix of internal and external candidates, promoting from within can be particularly advantageous.

When you promote a current employee to a manager position, you show your other employees that there’s room for growth in your organization with hard work and determination. Seeing their teammates get promoted and rise higher in the company can also improve employee retention.

As an employer, internal promotions allow you to eliminate the costly expense of hiring and onboarding a new employee. Your new manager will already be familiar with company values and culture, and they’ll have a good amount of knowledge regarding business operations that will help them excel and ease the transition into their new role.

Step 4: Expand your talent pool

If you’ve exhausted your internal candidates with no luck, it’s time to expand your search. Looking outside local candidates automatically widens the number of applicants interested in your position and gives you more options.

If you’re hiring for an in-office position, the cost to relocate top talent may be worth the experience they’ll bring to your company. Another way to expand your search is with remote candidates. If the position allows for it, you can save relocation costs by making the role remote, which will encourage those that are unable or unwilling to move to apply.

Lastly, you should tap into your internal network for recommendations. With a referral program, you can offer a monetary incentive to your employees if they recommend someone who gets hired. This can be particularly effective for your current managers that may know other qualified managers. If all else fails, you can always hire a recruitment agency for help.

Step 5: Value leadership qualities

Hiring managers often make the mistake of hiring someone based only on their skills for the position. However, looking for essential qualities that show the person will be a good leader to your current employees is often beneficial.

Soft skills like effective communication, organization, goal setting, and delegating are crucial for any successful manager. And many times, these skills are difficult to learn because they can depend on the person’s personality.

During your search, look beyond skillset and consider people with the makings to be a good manager. While this may not work for every position, in some cases, it may be better to hire someone with the right temperament and then have them learn the skills on the job.

Leadership qualities to look for in a great manager include:

  • Trust: Good leaders don’t micro-manage. They set up their team to operate autonomously and are comfortable delegating tasks.
  • Communication skills: They can clearly communicate their expectations to different levels of the organization and motivate their team, so everyone is working toward the same objective.
  • Commitment: They commit to their teams, goals, stakeholders, culture, and the economy and are a role model to those around them.
  • Focus: They are aware of the big picture but also focus on smaller tasks that ultimately lead to the organization’s primary goal.
  • Creativity: Creative managers can come up with innovative solutions to complex problems.
  • Empathy: They listen to their employees and understand the importance of openness and transparency.
  • Responsibility: They’re responsible for their team’s performance, so they know how to check in with their team to see how they can help them advance and develop professionally.
  • Confidence: All managers have to make tough choices regularly. But good managers are confident in their decisions and that they’re right for their team and company’s success.

Step 6: Ask candidates thought-provoking questions

Once it’s time for an interview, ensure your questions are relevant and engaging. You’ll want to learn more about the candidate’s personality, background, and skills, but you also need to find out how they’ll work with your current employees. So asking a variety of questions is vital.

Because soft skills are essential in a managerial role, it’s important to ask behavioral questions to learn how an ideal candidate would apply their past experiences to solve challenges they would potentially encounter at your organization.

Behavioral questions could include questions like:

  • Can you tell me about a time you handled a challenging situation and what you did to overcome it?
  • Can you explain when you’ve made a mistake and what you did to fix it?
  • Give an example of when you motivated someone in their career and how you did it.
  • What are you passionate about, and how can that passion make you successful in this role?

Next, you should ask about specific knowledge or skills relating to the position to judge their qualifications. Finally, you should learn about their management style, such as how they lead and past experiences with their direct reports.

Ask questions that delve into the candidate’s management style, such as:

  • Describe your management style and experience.
  • How do you work best with direct reports?
  • What’s your favorite part about managing people?
  • Tell me about a time you had to deliver negative feedback and how you approached it?

Throughout the interviewing process, your questions should help you determine how the candidate will fit in with your team and how they can help your company achieve its goals.

Step 7: Avoid common hiring biases

Hiring bias is a personal prejudice against certain people, groups, or characteristics—whether conscious or unconscious—that can negatively impact your hiring process. Bias can creep in during the screening process or an interview, and it can be tricky to catch if it's unconscious.

Three common hiring biases include:

  1. Social comparison bias: This is when you dismiss a highly qualified or talented candidate because you’re worried they may threaten your own status in the company.
  2. Beauty bias: This occurs when you unconsciously feel that the most attractive candidate is the most qualified and, therefore, will be the most successful in the role.
  3. Conformity bias: This bias happens when you recommend a candidate simply because other hiring team members think they are the best applicant.

You can avoid biases during the hiring process by creating qualification benchmarks and using them to screen every applicant equally. Once you’re down to a few candidates, you can have them each complete a series of skill tests relating to the position to compare how each performs under the same circumstances.

Step 8: Focus on building a diverse and dynamic team

When hiring a manager, you should strive to hire someone who will provide different perspectives and experiences so you’ll have an overall diverse and dynamic workforce. If you build a team of leaders who think the same as you, you’ll stunt your business’s growth and likely miss out on hiring great people.

When building a diverse workforce, you should:

  • Expand your network so you’ll be open to a greater variety of job seekers.
  • Celebrate your employees for their differences and backgrounds.
  • Search for talent with a range of skills that can help improve your business by solving problems creatively.
  • Encourage open communication and listen to feedback from managers and employees.

Having a diverse team of managers will provide you with various ideas to think about during collaborative brainstorming sessions. Also, managers make a big difference in recruiting and retaining other employees, so choosing managers of different backgrounds will highlight your company as being inclusive.

Step 9: Never stop recruiting

You can be more successful in hiring the best managers if you’re proactively looking for talent when they’re searching for a role—not just when you have an open position. If you only look for candidates when a position is available, you’ll be limiting your candidate pool because you’ll only be looking for those who match your job descriptions.

It’s likely that your perfect candidate is already working at another company. Therefore, you should expand your list of potential candidates by networking at industry events and building relationships with leadership and management professionals. That way, you’ll know who these people are when you have an open position in case they’re looking for a change.

Conclusion

The kind of manager you hire can make or break your organization. Managers support their team through day-to-day operations while helping the company grow, increasing business performance, and motivating their fellow coworkers to reach their full potential.

Therefore, it’s important to take all the appropriate steps when hiring a new manager so you’ll be better set up for success. From offering various employee benefits to revamping your interview process, making time to attract the best candidates is worth the extra effort.

This article was originally published on January 8, 2015. It was last updated on December 30, 2022.

1https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231593/why-great-managers-rare.aspx

Originally published on December 30, 2022. Last updated December 30, 2022.
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