The 30 Minute Manager!™ | Managing People Training Activity

The 30-Minute Manager! is an easy-to-use, stand-alone, generic activity. It’s ideal for the start of training courses for new managers and supervisors and as a refresher for existing managers.

Learning Objectives

  • the key attributes of effective managers and supervisors
  • what new managers need to know about their role
  • to appreciate the concept of the 'whole' manager
  • to reflect on participants’ own strengths and weaknesses
  • to pinpoint areas for performance improvement

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount on multiple licences to use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    3-24 (up to 4 teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    30 minutes + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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  • UK delivery

    (normally next working day)


  • Europe delivery

    (1-2 working days)


  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



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The Activity

Each team has a set of 62 cards, each stating a characteristic that a manager or supervisor might possess - some desirable, some less desirable, some irrelevant.

First, teams must sort the cards into four groups of attributes: Personal, Organisational, Interpersonal and Irrelevant. They then reduce the cards to just 30 (spread roughly over the three categories) that best describe their view of the perfect manager.

They score their profile against the ‘definitive profile’ supplied. (Teams may suggest that ‘the definitive profile’ can be refined – which all makes for good debate.)

How do individuals match up to the profile? What are their strengths and weaknesses? The act of sorting the statements and the elimination process stimulates valuable discussion about manager attributes and creates a view of the ‘whole’ manager.

Please note: This is a revised, redesigned and updated version of our bestselling What Makes a Manager? (no longer available).

Trainer's Role

The timing for this activity can be flexible from 30 to 45 minutes.

  • Issue a set of cards to each team and allow up to 20 minutes for sorting into the four categories. You can allow teams to take longer if you have more time, and equally give them less time if not.
  • Allow teams a further 10 minutes to select their top 30 cards.
  • Issue Profile Forms for teams to 'profile' their ideal manager.
  • Use the secret code to double-check teams have put cards in the right categories.
  • Score each team and lead a discussion on each team’s profiles and the key ‘manager attributes’. Was there much agreement between team profiles? If not, why not? Get participants to reflect on their own manager attributes: their strengths, where can they improve - and how?

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Card Sets x4
  • Profile Forms: A4 pad
  • The Ideal Profile: A4 pad

This activity is for face-to-face classroom use. It is supplied as a hard copy pack and the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub.

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

We use 'The 30-Minute Manager!' (formerly 'What Makes a Manager?') a lot - especially with new managers. It gets them talking and focusing on what management is all about.

F. Brawn, 3M UK

I ran 'The 30-Minute Manager' activity in the first module of our ‘New Managers’ programme. It worked really well and the delegates really enjoyed it. It helped them to identify that being a good manager is about having good people skills – as well as technical skills. It reinforced nicely, that what they were about to learn over the course of the programme is really important.

Sarah Stevens, Learning and Development Business Partner, TLT LLP

I use this activity regularly and it works really well. It's great for provoking discussion around what defines a good manager. Thank you!

Jo Downes, Learning & Development Manager, FPS

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