Hiring a Manager: 11 Tips to Avoid a Bad Hire • Toggl Hire
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Hiring a Manager: 11 Tips to Avoid a Bad Hire

Post Author - Juste Semetaite Juste Semetaite Last Updated:

Hiring an employee can be difficult and stressful, as any business owner knows. But hiring a manager? Longer time to fill, more responsibilities, more screening and sourcing, more money to spend and more headaches. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let’s share a few ways that anyone can hire a person with amazing managerial skills without breaking a sweat.

TL;DR – Key Takeaways

  • There are many differences between good and bad managers. Primarily, the differences are in communication, empathy, interpersonal skills, decision-making, and the willingness to improve their teams in all aspects.
  • Exceptional managers have great leadership qualities. They communicate effectively, prioritize their team in all situations, are empathetic, and have a management style that suits your business needs.
  • There are many ways to spot if someone is not a good fit for a manager. They won’t have previous experience in the industry or previous experience in management roles. They are a poor communicator, struggle with making tough decisions, are not empathetic, and don’t prioritize their team.
  • Hiring a manager is different from hiring an employee in the following aspects: leadership skills, experience, impact, cost, cultural fit, and the evaluation process. The easiest way to avoid a bad management hire is to employ skills assessments in your recruitment process.
skills-first hiring approach
To hire a top-level manager, focus on getting proof of competence.

What makes a good manager vs. a bad manager

Ask their direct reports about a manager and they will instantly tell you whether they are good or not, based on their personal experience and gut feel.

And yet, there are some more objective ways to determine if someone is a decent manager or not.

Good managers:

  • They lead by example and are the first to take new challenges head-on. They walk the walk and inspire other team members to perform at their best
  • They are superb communicators in all shapes and forms. Written or verbal, in-person or through video, they find it easy to communicate in both directions in the company ladder
  • They have amazing interpersonal skills and they are deeply interested in how their team members feel and what their concerns and needs are
  • They are decisive and find it easy to make difficult choices on the spot, benefiting both the company and their team members
  • They have a keen interest in improving the soft and hard skills of their team members, as well as their general career progression
  • They are a mentor to their team, not just someone who gives out orders and checks up on task progress
  • They have a genuine interest in the well-being, growth, and mental and physical health of their team

Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.

Steve Jobs

Bad managers

  • They micromanage their team members, interfering with their everyday tasks, constantly checking up on progress, and doubting their skills and abilities
  • They are a poor communicator and rely on their team guessing their intentions – they are also a bad listener and have no interest in their team’s feedback, thoughts, and ideas
  • They also do not care for open communication in general and discourage openly giving and receiving feedback from their team members
Giving feedback has become more of an exception than a rule.
Giving feedback has become more of an exception than a rule. | Source
  • They do not invest time and resources in growing the skills and experience of their current employees
  • They look at their own interests first and their team and the company second
  • They hinder the growth of their team members as they see them as a threat

5 traits and skills of a good manager

To help you go through the hiring and interview process more smoothly, we’ve singled out some of the top traits and skills of good managers.

1. Leadership abilities

Great managers lead and inspire their team members to take action through their own example. They can make decisions quickly and rationally and choose the best path out of a difficult situation, even if it means making sacrifices. They mentor, teach, and train their team members on a regular basis.

2. Effective communication and interpersonal skills

They can speak their mind clearly and they’re not afraid to send positive and negative feedback to their team and the management. They’ve mastered listening as a skill and they take their team’s feedback seriously. They encourage open communication between their team members and foster an atmosphere where anyone can deliver negative feedback without repercussions.

Communication is among the top skills that employees want managers to improve.
Communication is among the top skills that employees want managers to improve. | Source

3. Prioritize team members’ skills and talents

Amazing managers help the company achieve more by identifying the unique skills and talents of their team members and building upon them. They are brave enough to let the current employees outgrow their current roles and move into more senior roles, even if it means letting them go from their team.

Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.

John D. Rockefeller

👉 Read this: 7 Steps to Create a Professional Development Plan

4. Empathy

The right person for your manager position is an exceptional communicator and understands the needs of their team members. They don’t only prioritize the good of the company and the business’s growth, but also consider the employees’ wellbeing when making decisions.

Qualities of great leaders | Source

5. They have a specific management style

Depending on the industry they work in, the best managers will have a specific style of managing people.

For example, someone in a managerial role in a highly regulated industry will be more focused on processes and regulations. This means you’re going to require someone with stronger organizational skills.

Poor communication in senior and middle managers is a common complaint with employees.
Poor communication among senior and middle managers is a common complaint with employees. | Source

On the other hand, managers in more creative industries can be more collaborative, empathetic, and flexible.

Ultimately, a great managerial hire will need to be an amazing leader. They will also need to be superb communicators and empathetic collaborators who can adjust their work style according to their work environment.

How to know if someone’s not fit for a manager position

You’ve created the job description, went through the screening process and you reviewed all the internal and external candidates. It’s time to make the call, but how do you determine if someone is just not cut out to be a manager?

Here are some tell-tale signs:

  1. They don’t have leadership experience. Even if they’ve been a data analyst for 10 years, this does not mean they would make a good data analyst team lead. Always look for prior experience in leading people.
  2. They have a poor track record of leadership. Perhaps they have managed people, but not really well. You can find this out quite easily with a background check.
  3. They struggle with communication. This goes both ways – communicating with employees and upper management. Poor communication leads to a plethora of issues in leadership.
  4. They struggle with making difficult decisions. When things get tough, they will need to make calls that benefit both their team and the company. Can they do this under pressure?
  5. They lack empathy. They show no understanding or compassion toward the needs, ambitions and feedback of their team.
  6. They do not prioritize their team’s development in experience, skills, talents, technical abilities, and more.
Poor cmmunication and a bad attitude are some of the worst traits of bad bosses according to research.
Poor communication and a bad attitude are some of the worst traits of bad bosses according to research. | Source

Recruiting talented managers is tough, but when you’re equipped with the right data and check against these items, evidence will tell you whether it is a good call.

How is hiring a manager different than hiring employees?

When you’re looking to fill a manager position, everything is different compared to hiring a regular employee. From the moment you put together a job description to the moment you make an offer, the differences are immense.

1. Leadership skills

A top-tier manager should not only be able to execute and get the work done, but also to lead.

This does not mean dishing out orders to direct reports only. It also encompasses making decisions (difficult ones, more often than not), hiring people and letting them go, managing people and the conflicts between them, and more.

Unlike typical hard skills, leadership qualities are much more difficult to measure. So, on top of their key qualifications for a role, you need to look at their leadership skills through a mix of assessments and key questions in the interview process.

Leadership & Management competency encompasses many skills | Source: Udemy Learning Trends Report

2. Experience

If you’re hiring account managers for your agency, it won’t make much difference if the job seekers have one or six years of experience. For senior managers, you want to go with as much experience as possible. And that is not just experience in doing the work, but also leading a team.

This includes managing, hiring, onboarding, and training people, managing budgets, seeing projects through from start to finish, and more day-to-day operations. So, you’re not just looking at the typical list of tasks they’ve performed at previous jobs but also their style of management and execution.

3. Impact

Individual contributors can make an impact on their company and team, but not as much as managers.

When hiring qualified managers, you want to make sure that they’ve made an impact on their previous roles.

In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.

Tina Fey

This could mean an impact on the company culture, team OKRs, revenue, day-to-day operations, or something else.

4. The evaluation process

Typically, the evaluation process for employees is much simpler compared to those for managers. Your hiring managers will need to create more elaborate job descriptions, do additional screening, take more time with assessments, do more detailed reference checks, and more.

In other words, prepare to set aside more time and budget for your hiring team when searching for manager candidates instead of less demanding roles like project managers.

👉 Read this: How to Spot Leaders with Great People Management Skills

5. The cultural fit

Company culture fit is important for all roles but is critical for a management role. They will continue making more hiring decisions in the future, further shaping your culture. It is imperative that the core beliefs, values of the best candidates for team leaders align with your overall company culture.

This part is much easier when you hire on your own rather than using a recruitment agency, as you know your corporate culture inside and out.

7. The compensation

Managers are paid more than regular employees, which changes everything from the job posting to the final offer. Be prepared for longer negotiation periods around the salary, which makes the time to fill even longer.

Also, there are more talks about benefits and perks such as stock options, profit sharing, equity, and similar details, which are usually not a topic of discussion for individual contributors. This process will take time, even for internal candidates, but finding a great manager is worth it.

Top 11 tips for hiring managers

Before you get discouraged about creating your next manager job posting, let us help you with practical advice on finding your new manager.

Diversity is going to play a key role in growing teams in the future, so make sure to use methods that remove common hiring biases.
Diversity is going to play a key role in growing teams in the future, so make sure to use methods that remove common hiring biases. | Source
  1. Mix up your hiring process with different methods. For example, include pre-employment assessment tests to create a more inclusive, diverse team and more appealing company culture.
  2. Define the role and the responsibilities clearly, and show them to managerial candidates all the way from the job descriptions.
  3. Pinpoint the hard and soft skills necessary for the new manager to thrive. Put a special focus on managerial skills.
  4. The perfect candidate will have experience in a particular industry or sector, e.g. you can’t hire finance managers from a marketing background.
  5. When you can, hire internally instead of going to job sites. You’ll retain your top talent, inspire other employees and hire a manager who understands and knows your company’s culture inside and out. Internal candidates can be invaluable people managers with some extra management experience.
  6. Be transparent about the hiring process. Tell the management candidate what they can expect from you as an employer from the moment they apply until they receive an employment contract.
  7. Do behavioral interviews with potential candidates to test their personality and behavior in past roles, as well as accurately predict their future behavior in specific work situations.
  8. Be extra stringent with cultural fit when you hire managers. The ideal candidate will not just be another team member but a partner to help you expand your team in the future.
  9. Go the extra mile with onboarding to make sure the new manager feels welcome from day one. Assign a mentor or an onboarding buddy to facilitate the process.
  10. Do a detailed background check for previous roles before you hire senior managers, paying special attention to those who were in a leadership role.
  11. Provide ongoing feedback and support and give them ample opportunities to grow professionally through skills, courses, certifications, and more.

Hire a manager easily with skills tests

Hiring a manager is worlds apart from hiring a regular employee. But as difficult as the process can be, finding the ideal candidate who can take your team to new professional heights is rewarding.

Wondering where to start? We can offer help beyond this article – the Toggl Hire assessment library has many soft and hard skills tests to help you hire a manager that is just the right fit for your team.

Use our pre-made assessment tests or build custom ones to find and hire great managers!

Steal this test template!

Juste Semetaite

Juste loves investigating through writing. A copywriter by trade, she spent the last ten years in startups, telling stories and building marketing teams. She works at Toggl Hire and writes about how businesses can recruit really great people.

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