Qualities Managers Need

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Understand that you’re not the delivery engine that makes your agency go. You’re the executive engine that makes your agency go. Being an executive and thinking about your organization first rather than the work that your organization does is a huge transition.

There’s you thinking about the organization, and then there’s the people delivering the work. That gap in the middle is where you need to install managers. Many people think that managers are terrible, that you can hire a great team and they can manage themselves. That’s wrong because everybody needs to have a clear set of accountability and responsibilities.

You need someone who can manage the people doing the delivery and also distill the information that the organization creates into the information that the executive level needs. It’s helpful if the person you hire has significant experience in doing what the people that they manage are doing. Managers should understand the work that the people are doing for them. They don’t have to be the best at the work the people under them do because management is a skill.

Look for a manager who understands the work and your culture. They need to understand how you, as an executive, think. They need to understand how relationships work inside of your company, and they need to fit in the role. What often happens is you get a great technical marketer, somebody who’s amazing at paid search. You make them the head of paid search, and you put a search team underneath them, but they turn out to be a colossal failure. It’s not because they’re not great at search. It might actually be because they are great at search. They’re thinking about the work that is being done, rather than thinking about the people who are doing the work.

Organization and clarity of communication are key qualities to look for in a manager. The ability to prioritize and reprioritize rapidly is important because managers have to reprioritize things when delivery changes or when the executive level decides something different. The person you hire has to be flexible, but most importantly they have to be willing to invest themselves into the relationship that they have with the team. Make sure they’re delivering what their team needs to accomplish their jobs, and that they’re also willing to invest in the relationship with the executive level. 

Much of being a manager is translating big, strategic vision into tactics. They have to understand the language of the lowest level of the company, and the language of the highest level of the company, and be able to translate what the workforce needs to the executives and what the executives need to the workforce. It’s about communication and high EQ rather than high IQ.

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