8 Good Manager Characteristics: How To Spot (Or Be) The Best

Working Remotely

Tired of bad bosses? These good manager characteristics turn leaders into legends & remote companies into dream jobs.

Let’s face it, remote work isn’t just about ditching the office attire and claustrophobic cubicles. It’s about using your unlimited productivity and talent to reach new professional highs.

But key findings from our Remote Leader Playbook reveal that even the most accomplished employees need the right manager on their team to achieve these wins. One who fosters a supportive environment where skills, collaboration, and teamwork flourish, even when coworkers are miles (or sometimes continents) apart.

So, what separates the captains who navigate these digital waters with finesse from those who inspire mutiny?

Whether you’re hoping to become the best remote manager or interviewing for a new role and taking the measure of your potential boss, we’re sharing good manager characteristics that make leaders legendary.

8 Good Manager Characteristics: How To Spot (Or Be) The Best

Bad remote managers can turn your motivation into a deflated pool float and your work-life balance into a raging dumpster fire. Good managers? They rock all these traits:

1. They’re Both Skilled & Eager To Learn

A good manager’s expertise not only builds trust and respect with teammates, but provides valuable opportunities for employees to learn from their backlog of knowledge. They have an open-door policy, always willing to answer questions, share advice, or bounce ideas around.

When the occasional work hiccup erupts, a good manager doesn’t leave you stranded on a deserted digital island. They’re savvy enough to:

  • Understand the remote tech, tools, systems, platforms, etc., you use
  • Help you overcome professional/interpersonal roadblocks
  • Troubleshoot basic issues
  • Offer guidance or clarification
  • Advocate for the resources your team needs to succeed

Most importantly, they stay up-to-date on the latest productivity and tech trends. They know what the landscape of the future of (remote) work looks like, and these dogs aren’t afraid to learn new tricks. They welcome employees who can teach them a thing or two.

2. They Have a Clear Vision for the Team & Empower Them To Achieve

A good manager has a clear vision for the team’s goals and direction. However, they’re not fortune tellers predicting the future. They still involve employees in decision-making, encourage open communication, ask for feedback about strategies, and adapt to changing circumstances.

They inspire, not dictate, so everyone feels like they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. These maestros can see everyone’s potential and believe in their skills, which gives employees the confidence to tackle any challenge. Consider them the team’s hype squad, motivational speaker, and productivity guru all rolled into one.

That’s why good managers don’t micromanage, they empower. They know micromanagement is the soul-crushing kryptonite of remote work. 

By providing employees with clear expectations and support, these leaders give teams the autonomy to perform as they see fit. Employees take ownership of their projects, and employees rise to the occasion to get the job done.

This two-way street fosters a remote work culture of collaboration and accountability, allowing everyone the freedom to thrive.

3. They’re Flexible and Results-Oriented

While process is important, a good manager focuses on results, not just rigid routines. They care about the “what” but also understand the “how.” So they frequently encourage flexible working arrangements and different work styles — as long as deadlines and goals are met.

Adopting a results-oriented mindset means these head honchos:

  • Set clear goals
  • Effectively track employee and team progress
  • Measure success by output, not hours worked
  • Rely on data-driven decision-making
  • Offer personalized support to foster continuous improvement

It won’t matter if you’re a night owl or a morning lark; you’ll be able to work when you’re most productive to drive progress individually and as a team.

4. They Use Async Communication Effectively

Asynchronous communication powers remote work, but it’s not an excuse to disappear into the digital ether. A good manager finds the sweet spot between real-time interactions and asynchronous communication. This ensures everyone stays informed and connected (and no one scrambles to respond to emails at 2 AM).

Signs of this trait include:

  • Setting and following clear communication guidelines
  • Respecting preferred communication styles
  • Accommodating all employee time zones (not just theirs)
  • Not interrupting employees’ deep focus blocks
  • Scheduling real-time virtual meetings in advance 
  • Using project managers, team messengers, and other async tools and workflows to bridge communication gaps

What managers say during async communication matters too… 

These high-five-worthy managers also ensure that employees feel seen and heard. So forget cryptic messages and mixed signals. They’re all about transparent, clear, and empathetic communication — the WD-40 of remote work. 

Good managers have mastered emotional intelligence in the workplace. They create a safe space for open and honest dialogue, practice empathetic, active listening, and know how to speak your language (be it emoji-filled Slack messages or Python). This helps them understand, address, and solve concerns promptly.

5. They Provide Consistent, Constructive Feedback

Too little feedback leaves employees lost, yet too much feels like micromanagement. 

Most employees consider feedback the kale of the professional world: good for you but not always the easiest to swallow. However, good managers know that constructive feedback is a continuous conversation that helps employees grow and improve without feeling overwhelmed.

Providing timely, relevant, actionable feedback looks like:

  • Opportunities for self-assessment 
  • Routine performance reviews
  • Holding peer feedback meetings
  • Open communication about your needs, challenges, and goals

Bonus points awarded to managers who tailor their feedback to employees’ preferred communication styles (written, verbal, carrier pigeon, you name it!). 

These steps create a safe space for professional and personal development, so you’re excited to learn and evolve rather than take feedback critically or personally.

Psst! Don’t be surprised if these managers ask for feedback about their performance too. 

6. They Recognize & Reward Accomplishments

Good managers don’t hoard recognition like a dragon guarding its treasure. They understand that everyone craves a little credit for their hard work. So they make it a point to acknowledge individual contributions, provide genuine praise for jobs well done, and celebrate team wins.

Depending on the nature or scope of your work project, this could range from public shoutouts via Slack, team meetings, or email to the occasional care package delivered to your domicile (hello, self-care swag!). 

7. They Support Mental Health & Work-Life Balance

Remote workers spoke: their priorities are shifting, and work is no longer on top. Now, work-life balance and self-care take center stage in their professional and personal lives.

Remote work can blur the lines between work and personal time. A great manager understands the struggle is real. That’s why they champion work-life balance, encouraging team members to:

Excellent managers won’t judge your midday yoga session because they know work-life harmony supports mental health, slashes the risk of burnout, and boosts retention.

🤔 So how can companies, and more specifically managers, motivate teams and employees to do their best work? Our Remote Leader Playbook offers a few suggestions! 

8. They Facilitate Your Career Development

Career development opportunities drive employee retention. So, a good manager is invested in your career growth, not just your immediate tasks. 

Like a trusty compass, they can help you chart your future course and guide your professional journey. They’ll ask about your career goals, help you set achievable milestones, offer opportunities for learning and development, enroll you in mentorship programs, send you to conferences, and more. 

They're basically your Yoda, coaching you on your own unique career path to remote work enlightenment.

If You Find a Good Manager, Please Consider Cloning Them

So, how do you find someone with all these good manager characteristics? 

Ask insightful questions during remote interviews, observe their communication style, assess the company culture, and trust your gut. You now know what to look for, so it shouldn’t be difficult to spot leaders who embody these traits (and those who could use a bit of work).

Remember, even as a remote employee, you have the power to shape your work experience. Leadership isn’t just a top-down thing — you can adopt these qualities to inspire others on your team. 

Take initiative, share your knowledge, communicate openly, offer suggestions for improvement, and be a positive force for change. You’ll help create a remote work environment that not only flourishes but helps everyone around you bloom.

😊 Tired of bad bosses? Time to start interviewing new leaders to inspire your greatness! We Work Remotely is the #1 remote job board for finding your remote dream team.

Be The Remote Manager You Wish You Had

If you found yourself nodding along, recognizing some of these traits in yourself, well, kudos to you! You might be a good remote manager in the making. But a great manager is always learning and growing.

Take this cue from the universe to download our free report: The Remote Leader Playbook: 2024 Edition. It explores how we got to the current state of remote work, what remote workers really want, and what remote managers can do better in 2024.

As we learned today, managers are vital to a company’s success. That’s why our report offers a roadmap to show leaders what they’re currently excelling at and what they should be working on to keep top talent on their teams. You want to be legendary, right? We know you can be!  🙌

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