Bill Howatt is the founder of Howatt HR Consulting and a co-creator of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award.
You’ve been thinking about becoming a manager. Your motivation is that you’d like to advance your career and make more money. You believe becoming a manager is the right career path for you in this organization at this point in your career.
You apply for a team leader role and tell your partner how excited and hopeful you are that you’ll be able to attain an entry level manager’s role in your organization.
Feeling your excitement and being engaged, your partner listens carefully. Once you’re done, your partner pauses for a moment and says something like: “I hear you’re excited. I suspect you have potential to be a good team leader; however, do you think you have the foundational skills required to be an effective leader? If not, what skills do you think you’ll benefit from learning?”
This simple question gets you thinking about what foundational skills you need to be an effective manager.
Two sets of foundational skills are required for any new or current manager to be effective. Manager effectiveness refers to a manager’s ability to influence, guide and support employees to want to do their best work each day. At the core is the employee-manager relationship. Without a solid relationship, the manager’s “smarts” or command of the subject matter will be of little value.
Facilitating manager effectiveness
Wanting to become a manager is one thing; wanting to become an effective manager requires you to be open to self-evaluating your current skills and to be willing to learn and practise new skills.
Many managers are appointed not because of their people skills but because of their subject-matter expertise. As odd as it sounds, many who are promoted to manager are never asked whether they enjoy working with people. To be an effective manager requires a desire to work with people.
However, commitment isn’t enough. A manager should also have a strong foundation of both intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
Intrapersonal skills are the skills we use to motivate ourselves and manage our own behaviour. Interpersonal skills allow us to interact and get along with others.
Get your foundational baseline
Using the following definitions and point values, rate yourself on six foundational skills based on how you think others may rate you (maximum possible score would be 36):
- Skills not in place (one point);
- Developmental gap (two points);
- Weakness (three points);
- Demonstrates at times (four points);
- Regularly demonstrates (five points);
- Strength (six points).
Intrapersonal skills (self-managing)
1. Self-awareness: level of awareness you have with respect to how your behavioural choices are affecting others and yourself. This can indicate how much responsibility you’ll take for your choices and actions.
2. Emotional intelligence: the degree you can successfully manage your emotions. This can predict how well you can build trusting and healthy relationships and manage your emotions under pressure.
3. Seeking feedback: the level of interest you have in asking others – employees, peers, managers – for their feedback. This can predict how open you are to others’ points of view, as well as your willingness to learn from others.
Interpersonal skills (interacting with others)
4. Giving feedback: the level of confidence you have for giving constructive feedback to close performance gaps and to correct behaviours, as well as your commitment to providing regular encouragement and recognition for work well done. The combination of these two behaviours can predict how much employees will feel comfortable interacting with you as a manager.
5. Open to receiving feedback: the level of approachability you have to encourage others to provide unsolicited feedback. The degree others feel safe sharing their points of view with you reflects your level of openness and transparency.
6. Active communication: your level of skills to facilitate two-way communications and to clarify misunderstanding and miscommunication. The degree you feel you’re listened to will indicate how others will rate your communication skills.
- Step 1: Total your scores. The closer you are to 36, the higher your confidence that you have these core foundational skills in place.
- Step 2: Ask three people you trust to individually rate you on the above six skills. Compare your score with the average of the three.
- Step 3: If your own score or that of your trusted people’s average score is lower than 25, consider exploring a training program where you can get the knowledge and skills to close gaps in your intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
Without the above kinds of foundational skills, it will be difficult for you to facilitate and develop healthy employee-manager relationships. Relationships are earned and built over time. They require attention, skills and interest in building them.
This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.
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