Archive for November, 2011

In business, we seem to focus less on management skills than the more glamorous and exciting work of leadership. However, while leaders may bring us vision, inspiration and challenge, these things need proper support and efficient implementation. That’s what the practice of management is about.

Managers are responsible for making sure things are done right. Therefore, effective management is an essential complement to effective leadership – and is vital for organizational success.

How Good Are Your Management Skills? Are you getting the best out of your team?

And, just as the importance of management is wide ranging, so is its scope. Managers must have an extensive set of skills – from planning and delegation to communication and motivation. Because the skill set is so wide, it’s tempting to build skills in the areas of management that you’re already comfortable with. But, for your long-term success, it’s wise to analyze your skills in all of the areas related to effective management – and then challenge yourself to make improvements in all areas.

This quiz helps you quickly identify areas of strength and weakness, so that you can capitalize on the former and manage the latter. We then direct you to resources that you can use to develop your skills still further.

How Good Are Your Management Skills?

Take this test online by visiting http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_28.htm, or on paper by circling the number in the column that most applies. If you take the test online, your results will be calculated for you automatically.

Statement Not
at all
Rarely Some
times
Often Very
Often
1. When I have a problem, I try to solve it myself before asking my boss what to do. 1 2 3 4 5
2. When I delegate work, I give it to whoever has the most time available. 5 4 3 2 1
3. I follow up with team members whenever I see that their behavior has a negative impact on customer service. 1 2 3 4 5
4. I make decisions following careful analysis, rather than relying on gut instinct. 1 2 3 4 5
5. I let my team members figure out for themselves how best to work together – teams are a work in progress! 5 4 3 2 1
6. I wait before disciplining a team member, so that people have a chance to correct their behaviors for themselves. 5 4 3 2 1
7. Technical skills are the most important skills that I need to be an effective manager. 5 4 3 2 1
8. I spend time talking with my team about what’s going well and what needs improving. 1 2 3 4 5
9. In meetings, I take on the role of moderator/facilitator when necessary, and I help my team reach a better understanding of the issue or reach consensus. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I fully understand how the business processes in my department operate, and I’m working to eliminate bottlenecks. 1 2 3 4 5
11. When putting together a team, I consider the skills I need – and then I seek people who best fit my criteria. 1 2 3 4 5
12. I do all that I can to avoid conflict in my team. 5 4 3 2 1
13. I try to motivate people within my team by tailoring my approach to motivation to match each individual’s needs. 1 2 3 4 5
14. When my team makes a significant mistake, I update my boss on what has happened, and then I think of it as an important lesson learned. 1 2 3 4 5
15. When conflict occurs within a new team, I accept it as an inevitable stage in the team development process. 1 2 3 4 5
16. I talk to team members about their individual goals, and I link these to the goals of the entire organization. 1 2 3 4 5
17. If I’m putting a team together, I select people with similar personalities, ages, time with the company, and other characteristics. 5 4 3 2 1
18. I think that the statement “If you want a job done well, do it yourself” is true. 5 4 3 2 1
19. I talk with team members as individuals to ensure that they’re happy and productive. 1 2 3 4 5
20. I brief my team members so that they know what’s going on around them in the organization 1 2 3 4 5

Score Interpretation

Now add up the scores you’ve circled.

My score overall is: out of 100

 

Score Comment
20-46 You need to improve your management skills urgently. If you want to be effective in a leadership role, you must learn how to organize and monitor your team’s work. Now is the time to start developing these skills to increase your team’s success! Find out how below.
47-73 You’re on your way to becoming a good manager. You’re doing some things really well, and these are likely the things you feel comfortable with. Now it’s time to work on the skills that you’ve been avoiding. Focus on the areas where your score was low, and figure out what you can do to make the improvements you need.
74-100 You’re doing a great job managing your team. Now you should concentrate on improving your skills even further. In what areas did you score a bit low? That’s where you can develop improvement goals. Also, think about how you can take advantage of these skills to reach your career goals.

Effective management requires a wide range of skills, and each of these skills complements the others. Your goal should be to develop and maintain all of these skills, so that you can help your team accomplish its objectives efficiently and effectively. Read on for ideas and resources that you can use to do this.

A Model of Effective Management

Our quiz is based on eight essential skill areas where managers should focus their efforts. By covering these basics, you’ll enjoy more success as a team manager:

  • Understanding team dynamics and encouraging good relationships.
  • Selecting and developing the right people.
  • Delegating effectively.
  • Motivating people.
  • Managing discipline and dealing with conflict.
  • Communicating.
  • Planning, making decisions, and problem solving.
  • Avoiding common managerial mistakes.

We’ll explore each of these in more detail.

Understanding Team Dynamics and Encouraging Good Relationships
(Questions 5, 15, 17)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 5
Statement 15
Statement 17
Total Out of 15

Good management means understanding how teams operate. It’s worth remembering that teams usually follow a certain pattern of development: forming, norming, storming, and performing. It’s important to encourage and support people through this process, so that you can help your team become fully effective as quickly as possible.

When forming teams, managers must create a balance so that there’s a diverse set of skills, personalities, and perspectives. You may think it’s easier to manage a group of people who are likely to get along, but truly effective teams invite many viewpoints, and use their differences to be creative and innovative.

Here, your task is to develop the skills needed to steer those differences in a positive direction. This is why introducing a team charter and knowing how to resolve team conflict (members) are so useful for managing your team effectively.

Selecting and Developing the Right People (Questions 11, 17)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 11
Statement 17
Total Out of 10

Finding great new team members, and developing the skills needed for your team’s success is another important part of team formation.

You can improve your recruiting skills with our Recruiting Skills Bite-Sized Training pack (members), and with our articles on Hiring People – Questions to Ask (members), InBox Assessment, Using Recruitment Tests (members) and Aptitude Testing (members).

And you can develop people’s skills with our articles on, among others, Successful Induction (members), Understanding Developmental Needs (members), Training Needs Assessment (members), and the GROW Model. You’ll also find our Bite-Sized Training session on Mentoring Skills (members) useful.

Delegating Effectively (Question 2, 18)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 2
Statement 18
Total Out of 10

Having the right people with the right skills isn’t sufficient for a team’s success. Managers must also know how to get the job done efficiently. Delegation is the key to this. Some managers, especially those who earned their positions based on their technical expertise, try to do most of the work themselves. They think that, because they’re responsible for the work, they should do it themselves to make sure it’s done right.

Effective managers recognize that by assigning work to the right people (not just those with the most time available), and clearly outlining expectations, teams can accomplish much more. But it’s often difficult to trust others to do the job. As a manager, remember that when your team members have the right skills, training and motivation, you can usually trust them to get the work done right.

Find out your strengths and weaknesses related to delegation by taking quiz How Well Do You Delegate?

Motivating People (Question 13, 19)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 13
Statement 19
Total Out of 10

Another necessary management skill is motivating others. It’s one thing to motivate yourself, but it’s quite another to motivate someone else.

The key thing to remember is that motivation is personal: we’re all motivated by different things, and we all have different levels of personal motivation. So, getting to know your team members on a personal level allows you to motivate your people better. Providing feedback (members) on a regular basis is a very powerful strategy to help you stay informed about what’s happening with individual team members. You can test your motivation skills with our quiz, and use your answers to develop your skills further.

Managing Discipline and Dealing with Conflict (Questions 3, 6, 12)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 3
Statement 6
Statement 12
Total Out of 15

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there are problems with individual performance. As a manager, you have to deal with these promptly. If you don’t discipline, you risk negative impacts on the rest of the team as well as your customers, as poor performance typically impacts customer service, and it hurts the team and everything that the team has accomplished. It’s very demotivating to work beside someone who consistently fails to meet expectations, so if you tolerate it, the rest of the team will likely suffer. In our article on team management skills (members), we explore this issue in further detail and give you some examples.

Team performance will also suffer when differences between individual team members turn into outright conflict, and it’s your job as team manager to facilitate a resolution. Read our article on Resolving Team Conflict (members) for a three-step process for doing this. However, conflict can be positive when it highlights underlying structural problems – make sure that you recognize conflict and deal with its causes, rather than just suppressing its symptoms or avoiding it.

Communicating (Question 8, 9, 16, 20)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 8
Statement 9
Statement 16
Statement 20
Total Out of 20

An element that’s common to all of these management skills is effective communication. This is critical to any position you hold, but as a manager, it’s especially important (you can test your communication skills with our quiz here). You need to let your team know what’s happening and keep them informed as much as possible. Team briefing (members) is a specific communication skill that many managers should improve. Also, develop the ability to facilitate effectively, so that you can guide your team to a better understanding and serve as a moderator when necessary.

Planning, Problem Solving and Decision-Making (Questions 4 and 10)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 4
Statement 10
Total Out of 10

Many managers are very comfortable with planning, problem solving and decision making, given that they’re often skilled specialists who’ve been promoted because of their knowledge and analytical abilities. As such, one of the most important issues that managers experience is that they focus so intensely on these skills when they think about self-development that they fail to develop their people skills and team management skills. Make sure that you don’t focus on these skills too much!

However, if you need to develop these skills, see our major sections on Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Project Management. You’ll find many rich skills improvement resources in these areas.

Avoiding Common Managerial Mistakes (Questions 1, 7, 14)

For statements in this category, fill in your scores in the table below, and then calculate your total.

Score
Statement 1
Statement 7
Statement 14
Total Out of 15

Good communication helps you develop facilitation skills, and it also helps you avoid some of the most common problems for managers. Some of these common mistakes are thinking that you can rely on your technical skills alone, asking your boss to solve your problems, putting your boss in the awkward position of having to defend you, and not keeping your boss informed. Our article on Team Management Skills (members) highlights what to do to avoid these, and other managerial problems that you should be aware of.

As we said earlier, management and leadership are closely linked, and each complements the other. To learn more about leadership and to assess your leadership skills, complete our quiz How Good Are Your Leadership Skills?

Key Points

You need to develop and improve your managerial skills on an ongoing basis as your career develops and as you meet new managerial challenges.

Whether you manage a department or a project team, it’s important to know how to get the work done right. When you’re asked to achieve something with the help of others, it’s complex – and you spend much of your time managing relationships instead of doing the actual work. So, you must develop not only your technical skills, but your management skills as well.

Delegating, motivating, communicating, and understanding team dynamics are some of the key skills needed. With those skills, along with patience and a strong sense of balance, you can become a very effective manager.

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