11 traits of an effective manager—and how to become one


Are you an effective manager? Want to be? We don’t blame you. Effective managers are organized, communicative, supportive, and always learning. But what really makes them shine?

We’ll review it all, including who they are, how they stay so organized, their traits, and the tools they use to remain on track and positive. Plus, how you can become one of them.

What is an effective manager?

An effective manager is a true leader. Through motivation, communication, and delegation, they keep their team on track to meet their goals.

Effective managers work in many different environments. Offices, cafés and restaurants, studios, salons, and on the field, too. Wherever they are, they create a positive environment that is supportive and adaptable, and constantly aiming for better.

Why does a manager need to be organized?

A manager is like the captain of a ship. Or—maybe even more accurate— the football team and the cheerleading squad.

But what makes someone an effective manager? Well, a lot of things. Effective managers keep teams on track, but more than that, they keep their coworkers motivated, fulfilled, hitting targets, and organized. But to keep their teams organized, they need to be organized themselves.

Just imagine the football coach who’s screaming plays that were meant for last week’s game. Or the cheerleading squad who decided to skip practice but still push ahead with the brave-and-terrifying basket toss. Disaster. Or, at the very least, some very confused teammates.

This is why organization isn’t just important—it’s critical. Without it, there’s a ripple effect that spans across the entire team, no matter the size. For instance, a lack of organization can lead to decreased productivity and the inability to make decisions. If a team doesn’t know why, how, where, or when to do something, they’re likely to do it wrong, slowly, or without the understanding and satisfaction of why it needs to be done in the first place.

This confusion, frustration, and the feeling of being overwhelmed can trickle down to each employee, and can impact your customers, too.

11 traits of an effective manager 

What makes a manager effective? Here’s a list of 11 traits that keep employees happy, organized, and feeling fulfilled.  

1. They’re leaders

Effective managers are always leaders. In a small business, that means they’re able to be clear about what they need and can guide their employees towards achieving their goals. This could look like a manager filling in as a barista to train employees on Instagram-worthy latte art, or a manager stepping in to support the visual merchandiser as they prep their seasonal window display.

Effective managers always lead by example, no matter what it takes.

2. They’re communicators

Effective managers don’t just delegate—they communicate. They explain what has to be done, know how to find the best people for the job, and then communicate the best way to get the job done.

But before they start talking, managers have to listen, and listen actively. Nope, that doesn’t mean running around and checking off their to-do list while having a conversation.  Active listening means they have to understand what their employees are saying, and show a genuine interest and appreciation as they take it all in. 

Once they do this, effective managers are able to communicate back with empathy, compassion, and understanding. As active listeners, managers can actually provide the feedback and support that they’re employees need in order to succeed. 

3. They’re empathetic

Empathy and effective management go hand-in-hand, especially when you consider the fact that 42% of people have experienced a decline in mental health since the beginning of the pandemic, and 67% of people are showing increased signs of stress.

Effective managers know the realities of life outside of work, and bring that into consideration when working with teams.

For example, if an employee is late for their morning shift three days in a row, they don’t jump to conclusions or reactions of anger. They ask questions. Dig deeper. And try to find a way to support.

For some managers, support might look like automatic shift reminders and for others, it might be swapping shifts after learning that a few of their workers have school drop-off and a 9 a.m. start is just a bit too difficult to make.

No matter the cause for conversation or the need for support, an effective manager is there to lend an ear, a hand, and sometimes, a tool to help. 

4. They’re decision makers

Effective managers are decision makers. They get the information they need to evaluate what’s in front of them. They assess their goals and what they have to achieve, collaborate with their teammates, and then put their best foot forward.

Effective managers also make objective decisions. They don’t go with their gut; they go with their data. That might mean looking back on schedules to see who shows up time and making the decision to promote them to key holder. Or, it might mean taking a look at sales and deciding to cut back on the afternoon shift by half the team. 

They get that some decisions are tough, but feel confident in knowing their choices were influenced by facts, not emotions. 

5. They’re okay with change

Effective managers are adaptable. They understand that small businesses have highs and lows, and they need to work with each of those.

Effective managers can navigate emergencies and pivot if necessary. They know their team, and who works best where and when, and can work around their schedules.

Their level of organization keeps them on top of things, so even if they’re feeling overwhelmed with changes in the workplace, they know they have the tools and teams to deal with them. 

6. They can delegate

Delegation is an important part of being an effective manager. It’s about communicating the needs of your business, but also finding the best people for the task at hand.

To delegate effectively, a manager needs to know their team, and trust them to take responsibility and ownership of the jobs they’re being assigned.

But that’s not the only reason for delegation. Effective managers delegate tasks in order to boost accountability within their teams. They want employees to feel like they’re owners of their roles, and have the potential to grow as the business does.

In order to succeed and grow, effective managers also need to ensure that the jobs they’ve assigned are understood and that the employees completing them have the proper training to do so.

7. They’re team players

You know that saying, “there’s no I in team”? Well, there’s no “I” in manager either.

Effective managers are collaborators. They can work with different types of teams to get the job done, and motivate their teammates as they do it.

In addition to collaborating with and motivating their teams, effective managers build teams, too—and strong ones at that. They understand the dynamics of their teams and their business, and know what’s needed to make it work better.

Once they’ve built their team, they foster a culture and environment that’s supportive and open. They encourage new ideas, and ask for different and various perspectives to enhance their business and the decisions they’re making to support it.

8. They’re mediators

Disagreements at work? Never happens… said no one ever.

Although we don’t always like to admit it, conflict happens—even if your workplace isn’t considered to be a toxic one.

But conflicts don’t always have to look like an episode of Real Housewives. Sometimes, they might be subtle, like an employee who feels like they aren’t getting recognized for covering shifts during the latest cold season.

Effective managers know how to deal with this type of situation, and learn from it, too. They diffuse the situation, document it, and make sure they have the proper policies in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

And for the conflicts that turn into blow ups? Effective managers can deal with those, too. As level-headed leaders, managers are great at listening to both sides. They can come up with solutions that support everyone involved. Then, they follow up with the tools, training, and communication necessary to make sure everyone has moved on, but has also learned from the conflict so it doesn’t happen again. 

9. They’re realistic

Speaking of “doesn’t happen again”, effective managers are realistic. They get that life happens, especially when managing shifts and hourly workers.

Being realistic means planning for the worst, hoping for the best, and being prepared for whatever you get. Maybe that’s your best holiday season ever—one that nobody could have predicted and subsequently, you were a few staff short. Or on the flip side, it’s planning your holiday shifts based on the last three years, and staffing up. But alas, turns out Mother Nature had other plans, it’s snowmaggadon, and your customers are staying home.

By being realistic, you still have hopes and plans for your teams, but you understand that some things are out of your control. And that’s okay. 

10. They give praise

Effective managers give praise when it’s due. This is important because 82% of employees are happier when recognized at work, and happy employees mean higher retention and a better customer experience.

But praise isn’t just a high five or employee-of-the-month badge. It can be assigning a new project that’s suited to an employee who excels at welcoming new staff and delegating them to support the onboarding process. By assigning this task, employees feel confident in their abilities and know that they’re being recognized for their work.

Effective managers also record praise so they can track performance, and they encourage others to do the same. For instance, with Homebase, teams can give each other shout outs for a job well done, and also ensure celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones are all stored in your team roster. Because those deserve praise, too!

11. They’re constant learners

Effective managers know that they don’t know everything. That’s why they’re interested in learning more: more about their teams, processes, customers, business, competitors, and more.

Effective managers also motivate employees to do the same. They provide the proper tools and resources to support training and development, and communicate the lessons they’ve learned to workers so everyone can benefit.

How to stay organized as a manager 

Staying organized isn’t always easy, especially when you’re managing a business that takes up a lot of your time and energy.

But, as a manager, staying organized is key to keeping your business growing and your employees happy.

Staying organized and setting clear expectations is important, as is having the tools to support your goals. 

As a manager, you should also prioritize your tasks based on importance and urgency. For example, if you know you have a busy two weeks ahead, what do you put first: scheduling or the employee satisfaction survey? Both are important, but one is more urgent. To help, managers can create plans so they can outline and focus on their key responsibilities. 

How effective manager organize their time 

Effective managers all have one thing in common: they use time management tools to help better organize their days, their tasks, and those of their team. When managers use these tools, they’re not only managing time, but they’re prioritizing it, too. 

Time management tools, like checklists, time blocking, and streamlining communications with staff can help optimize workloads, making everyone feel less stressed and more productive. 

6 essential manager tools 

We mentioned a few of time management tools like time blocking and checklists that can be used to effectively manage teams and their time, but there are many other tools that can help with everything from clocking-in to training your team on how to do so. Read on for six essential manager tools. 

1. Time clocking tools

These are an effective manager’s best friend. Time clocking tools, specifically online ones, are modern and digital ways for employees to clock in and out of their shifts. The time clock then connects with your business’s online timesheet to automatically calculate hours and create payroll reports and wages for each team member.

Aside from the time saved, time clocking tools let you get to know your team better. You can see who’s early, late, on time, and who’s working extra to help out their coworkers.

By knowing your team better, you can plan better, and planning is key to being an effective and organized manager. 

2. Employee scheduling tools

Ah, scheduling. The fun part of management, right? Well, not always. Especially when you’re lacking the tools to keep yourself and your team organized. Without this, scheduling can be quite timely and very chaotic.

Until now. With Homebase’s scheduling software, the whole process becomes automated. When you switch to online scheduling instead of using a paper system, the staff schedules you build for your business are stored on the internet—not on papers strewn across your desk or the breakroom. Hey, we’ve all been there.

Homebase’s cloud-based software promotes accessibility. Staff love seeing their schedule  from any device using the scheduling app in real time. You can check for clopening shifts, approve shift swaps, and even pivot to try something fresh, like the 4/10 schedule.

To help your employees stay as organized as you are, Homebase’s monthly schedule maker we’ll provide your team with calendar reminders about their work schedule, plus send email reminders when their shift is approaching. 

The best part? By doing it all online, managers can make and update their schedules from anywhere: the shop, the kitchen, or even in the middle of a meditation break. 

Finding Homebase was a game changer,” explains Eve Hogan, Homebase customer and owner of The Sacred Garden in Makawao, HI. “It made setting up the schedule super easy. My staff and I all really like being able to see the schedule from our phones, know who is working, getting reminders and having a simple way to manage schedule changes. It is super easy, user friendly and helps me run the business on the run!”

3. Hiring, onboarding, and training tools

When managers are hiring, onboarding, and training, things can get overwhelming. On top of staying organized for new employees, you’ve got to keep everything on track for the workers who are on the job.

So, where do you start? With software.

When you’re beginning the hiring process, effective managers need a job posting that reflects the needs of the business and the team they successful candidates will be working with. This alone can be a lot to keep track of.

But with Homebase Hiring & Recruitment Software, it’s not as hard you’d think. In fact, it’s pretty simple and streamlined—even if you’ve posted the role on five different job sites. After you complete your job posting, all applicants are shown on your hiring dashboard. Here, hiring managers can screen applicants and schedule interviews. After you’ve found your next hire—which will happen, trust us!— you can add them to your Homebase schedule and timesheets in just one click.

Once they’ve accepted the role, it’s time for onboarding. And that can be just as easy.
But if that’s the case, why is it that 88% of workers admit to having a less-than-great onboarding experience? Simple: businesses can be reluctant to invest in the process. Unless they’re an effective manager.

That means first crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s, and asking for documents to validate your new employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Once that’s done, it’s time to collect documents for payroll. This includes a direct deposit form, and a contract regarding your employee handbook.

Tip for effective managers: Save time by completing these first steps of the onboarding process before the employee’s first official shift. 

Your onboarding checklist

Effective managers will also have an onboarding checklist at hand, and follow the 5 C’s. These are:

  • Compliance: Educating new hires on business rules and policies
  • Clarification: Making new hires aware of their role and responsibilities
  • Culture: Sharing your objectives and values with your new hires
  • Connection: Getting to know your new hires and introducing them to the rest of your team
  • Checks: Keeping the lines of communication open so you can support your new hires and exchange feedback

Once onboarding is complete, effective managers can start training. Using an online platform to complete onboarding keeps everyone organized and in control.

And that feeling of “in control” is important for a small business. All employees—new and seasoned–need time to understand how things work and how they’re changing. By using online training software, you can take things one at a time, without overwhelming staff. Break things into manageable pieces to keep in control.

Plus, you’ll have a way to store everything you’re learning about your new hires, and they’re learning about your business. It’s all in the cloud, and much more organized than that filing cabinet of yours.

4. Storage tools

You can have all of the best ideas, teams, and policies in the world, but if you don’t have a place to store them, you may not be as organized as you’d think.

Effective managers often utilize cloud storage and file-sharing services to help with this. This includes software like Google Drive or Dropbox, but also cloud storage systems that sync up with your entire business, bringing together requests, schedules, payroll, performance, and more. 

5. Personal productivity tools

Personal productivity is just as important as business productivity. Effective managers use online calendars or scheduling apps to organize their days and coordinate with others. This can include personal appointments or time off that they need to book to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Note-taking apps are also a popular personal productivity tool for managers. These tools are like modern-day sticky pads, giving managers the flexibility to jot down an idea, note, or any info that pops up that they need to record. They can also provide managers with features like tagging and searching, so it’s easy to find that specific question you wanted to ask about the pet policy. 

6. PTO tools

Managers need time off, too, and using tools that help them stay focused on “turning off” can be extremely helpful.

That said, relaxation tools are super individualized, which means not everything works for everyone. Managers can try different techniques from exercise to meditation apps, journaling or visualization, or even a walk around the quiet restaurant to collect their thoughts.

A big part of organization is having your own thoughts organized. A messy mind results in a messy business, so managers need to care for themselves, too, and not just their teams. 

Effective manager FAQS

What is an effective manager?

An effective manager is a true leader. Through motivation, communication, and delegation, they keep their team on track to meet their goals.

Effective managers work in many different environments, and always work to create a positive environment that is supportive and adaptable, and constantly aiming for better.

Why do managers need to be organized?

There are many reasons managers need to be organized, no matter the size of their business. When a manager is organized, they can plan and prioritize effectively. This lets them delegate tasks and coordinate resources in a way that’s fit for their business and team.

Managers also have a lot to keep track of. When they’re organized, they can stay on top of their responsibilities, and make sure their staff are, too. This helps them make the best choices for their workers, customers, and overall teams, while also boosting trust, satisfaction, and productivity. 

What are the traits of an effective manager?

Effective managers are leaders. They motivate their teams, communicate effectively—including expectations–and guide and support their employees.

Effective managers are also active listeners. They want to truly understand the problems their employees are facing before finding a solution. They are empathetic and compassionate, and understand that there is life outside of work. 

To be an efficient manager you have to be okay with change, and adaptable to the many situations you and your teammates may face.

When doing all of this, effective managers lead by example. They collaborate and create a positive work culture. In doing so, they also guide their teammates toward success and growth, helping them develop personal and professional skills along the way. 

What are some time management techniques for effective managers?

To manage time effectively, managers need to prioritize and set clear goals. Breaking these goals down into manageable tasks, then delegating them to team members can help stay organized and on top of their many responsibilities.

One tip for managers to stay organized is to avoid the trap of multitasking. By dedicating chunks of time for activities and minimizing distractions while they complete them, managers can get their job done well, and on time.

Another time management technique for effective managers is communication. They can use tools to help them with this, like messaging tools, to make sure people are receiving notifications. Communication tools are also great for recording feedback from conversations and making sure that all parties are in agreement.

Managers also need time for rest and relaxation. Being able to clock out and stay clocked out is important to maintain productivity, reduce stress, and boost health. Plus, it leads by example, which is important for other teammates.

Are you a manager who wants to be more effective? Get Homebase for everything you need to help keep you and your team in sync, on track, and happy—all in one app. Get started for free. 

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