What’s the difference between a bad manager, good manager and a great manager?

In a perfect world, there would be tangible examples that showcase one's managerial abilities. Measuring the productivity of a manager's employees is one way to quantify the effectiveness of a particular manager, but there are many variables that can factor into that equation. Ultimately, it's difficult to simplify a managerial assessment, but business speaker and consultant Mark Graban attempted to differentiate bad, good and great managers in one phrase.

In a blog post on his LinkedIn page, Graban discussed his experience working for and with organizations and the different management styles he encountered over the years. He came up with one simple sign that separates all three levels of quality:

"Bad managers tell employees what to do, good managers explain why they need to do it, but great managers involve people in decision making and improvement."

Ultimately, any one can tell someone what to do, particularly if there's already a plan laid out that just needs to be executed. The manager learns what needs to be done and tells someone else to do it. If that's the extend of their direction, they probably aren't that great of a leader and their orders may end up falling on deaf ears, no matter how loudly or consistently they say them.

A good manager will go above simply giving orders and explain the purpose of their employees' tasks. This is a better strategy because if the worker knows why what they are doing is so important, they are more likely to listen. Orders are more likely to resonate with someone who knows why they were given to them. Understanding their place in the organization can motivate employees to do a better and more efficient job.

However, the best way to accomplish a task as a manager is to work with employees to find the best solution to a particular problem. The orders given to workers might not be the best way to get the job done. Those who are tasked with completing a task may have valuable insight they can provide to help the company find a better or more cost effective strategy. Great managers understand the importance of their employees' input and they value what they bring to the table.

Your company certainly wants great managers, which can be difficult to find without the proper resources or without knowing exactly who to look for. Working with an executive search firm can find the right talented people who can become great managers.