Thursday, April 2, 2009

Soft Skills for Managers

Managers not only need hard skills but also soft skills. Mere having domain and disciplinary knowledge does not help managers. Beyond these, they also need the art of managing the people which is more or less called as soft skills. Management is all about managing emotions and egos of individuals. The managers should learn to listen their subordinates well. Most of the time in organizations is spent on listening rather than speaking with others. Only through active listening, the real problems of the employees can be understood. Active listening wins trust of employees and builds rapport with managers. Whether the managers address the issues or not but what is expected out of them is active listening with empathy.

Active listening makes the managers to understand the real intentions, emotions and issues of the people. It helps in solving the problems quickly. It also eliminates the possibility for conflicts with in the organization.

Emotional intelligence is another area where managers have to focus keenly at the work place. As people are different, their emotions are different. Some are quick tempered and some are soft tempered by nature. Some are introvert and some are extrovert by nature. It requires extraordinary ability to understand people well. The managers need to allocate the roles and responsibilities to employees based on their nature and on emotional intelligence. It helps in reaching the goals much faster and better.

Managers should learn the art of giving feedback constructively and positively without any prejudices. While criticizing, it is essential to focus on the behavior of the individuals rather than on the individuals. It helps in taking the criticism positively by the individuals. There will be transformation in the behavior and it helps the individuals as well as the organization. Besides, managers will also earn respect. The managers should correct the behavior of the individuals within the four walls not publicly. If the criticism takes place in public place, it leads to self-defense on the part of the individuals and finally it will boomerang.

While criticizing the behavior of the individuals, managers should emphasis on sandwich method of feedback. In this method of feedback, the conversation begins with a positive message followed by the message related to the areas where in the behavioral changes have to be brought out and closes with positive message. The sandwich feedback is an excellent tool and can be used for building better relations and bringing out behavioral changes among the individuals. It becomes one of the elements of soft skills.

Managers can also become successful mentors. Mentoring elevates the status and dignity of managers. In traditional management, managers are just treated as bosses. But when managers don the role of mentors, they command respect and recognition from their subordinates. Mentoring helps the managers to think deeply, analyze the contents effectively and condense the information and pass on the same to their protégées. It helps the managers to reinvent themselves. Through mentoring managers not only become knowledgeable but also accessible. In a nut shell, mentoring breaks the traditional barriers between managers and subordinates and builds the bridges.

Managers should demonstrate positive body language whenever they communicate with others. 55 percent of the communication goes towards body language, the remaining 7 per cent for oral and 38 per cent for voice modulation. The predominant factor in any communication is body language. There has to be consistency between oral, voice modulation and body language. For instance, when an authoritative manager says that hereafter he will involve all people in the decision making process by thumping his hands on the desk is a clear indication of the authoritative tendencies through body language and democratic tendencies through oral language. Right body postures like hand, head, leg movements and proper eye contact clearly communicates the message across resulting into smooth flow of work.

The managers should take a serious note of soft skills. Although hard skills take managers to their tipping point in career, it is the soft skills that hold them in the same tipping point for longer time. Therefore, it is necessary for managers to focus on both soft and hard skills for their career success. To conclude, soft skills are essential to deliver your hard skills as well as to reap hard benefits.

The End

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is often said that the greatest skill is that of communication. The body language numbers (55%, 38%, 7%) come from a study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of the book "Silent Messages"

Lenny Laskowski, National Best Selling Author, "10 Days to More Confident Public Speaking"