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Management Skills that Drive Profitability

Management Skills that Drive Profitability

By: Roberta Matuson

The difference between a highly profitable business and one that is barely getting by is often the managerial skills of the company’s leaders.

Great managers are able to dramatically boost the performance of their team members, which in turn adds considerable dollars to the bottom line — while those who are lacking the necessary people management skills can be personally responsible for high levels of costly employee turnover.

Here are some key managerial skills to look for when posting your next manager job description that will help maximize productivity.

Employee selection and retention – The ability to select top talent that will stick around is a skill that is vital to the success of any manager. After all, your company is only as good as the talent you keep.

Look at a candidate’s history for hiring people who have remained with him or her for a long period of time. In the interview process, ask them to describe specifically what they’ve done to attract and keep the best.

Communication skills — By definition, a manager’s job is to oversee the work of others. In order to do so successfully, leaders must possess strong communication skills.

This includes:

  • The ability to verbalize what is expected
  • Provide feedback on issues related to performance
  • Keep their own manager informed of their team’s progress.

The ability to effectively communicate as a manager in writing is also necessary, as managers are often required to correspond with customers, employees and company executives.

Multi-tasking – The days of being responsible for only one task or function ended the moment that the recession arrived.

Managers today are overseeing multiple company functions and in many cases, employees who reside in more than one location.

The most successful managers are those who can handle multiple priorities and can shift from one project to another seamlessly. Before you place someone into a management role, be sure they are up to the task of prioritizing whatever comes their way.

Problem solving – The ability to problem solve is a critical managerial skill for those in management. Companies count on their front-line managers to figure out how to correct situations that fall under the manager’s lines of responsibility. The ability to quickly assess and rectify situations and to involve one’s employees in the process is vital.

When interviewing, ask applicants to describe a time when they had a tough problem that needed immediate resolution. Follow up by asking the candidate to walk you through the process they used to resolve the issue.

Competencies that you don’t have in-house – Patricia Hunt Sinacole, president of Hopkinton, Mass-based First Beacon Group LLC cautions business owners against hiring a mirror image of themselves.

“I’ve seen business owners who are fascinated when a candidate answers a question the same way that they would or perhaps attended the same college as they did,” notes Sinacole. “In fact, sometimes this is a detriment because the business owner is hiring overlapping competencies.” When hiring managers, look for those who can fill the gaps that exist in your organization.

Mentoring – Small business owners usually don’t have the same budgets for salaries as larger organizations. As a result of this, they often hire less- experienced personnel. This hiring strategy can work if you hire managers who are experienced at mentoring those with potential.

Planning and organization – One of the top manager skills that small business owners seek when hiring managers is the ability to plan and organize the daily workload. Having someone in place that can oversee the implementation of daily tasks is critical for business success.

Managers who are effective at planning and organizing provide business owners the time necessary to work on their business, rather than in their business.

Delegation – Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than working for a boss who is unable to delegate. We often call these types of managers “micro managers.”

Micromanagement is about mistrust. In other words, the person who refuses to let go of the task does so because he or she does not believe that anyone else can do the work as well as they can.

When looking at people management skills of candidates, be sure they are comfortable assigning tasks to others and then getting out of the way.

When reference checking, make it a point to speak with former employees and ask them to describe their take on this person’s managerial skills. If you need to be more direct, then do so. Ask them to rate on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being high, the candidate’s ability to delegate. Anything less than a 10 should be discussed further.

Pull this list out and review the next time you are seeking to hire a manager who can help drive profitability.