Bosses, Heal Thyself

Companies and bosses are always talking about the skill set they wish their workers had, but what about the boss’ skills?

After all, a company can get by with one or two less-than-perfect employees, but an incompetent manager can ruin the place.

A new study from staffing firm Robert Half looked at the skills needed by those in leadership positions.

Perhaps the most valuable of these are strong communication skills – which are necessary at every career stage, but especially for those in leadership positions

However, nearly one in three workers (30 percent) did not give their boss high marks in this area, reporting communication and diplomacy are where their managers most need improvement.

Greater technical expertise (18 percent) and leadership (17 percent) ranked second and third, respectively, on professionals’ wish lists.

But all is not lost: Robert Half Management Resources offers these tips for managers:

  • Request 360-degree feedback. Opinions from your manager, peers and employees are invaluable. Ask them about your strengths and weaknesses, their communication preferences, and how you can make it easier for them to come to you with questions or concerns.
    Not everyone will feel comfortable giving candid feedback, so consider gathering input anonymously.
  • Find a role model. Think of a manager you admire who enjoys great rapport with his or her staff. What makes this person stand out? Observe how he or she interacts with others.
  • Define your comfort zone – and go outside of it. If you struggle handling difficult conversations, ask a mentor or trusted colleague for pointers. If giving presentations is not your strong suit, take a public speaking class or join a group like Toastmasters.
  • Practice active listening. In conversations, focus on what others are saying instead of formulating your next thought. Pause an extra second before jumping in to make sure you don’t interrupt others.
  • Be yourself. Don’t try so hard to be a manager that you stop being an individual. Be honest and relatable, and show vulnerability from time to time.
  • To err is human – your team wants to know that you are not perfect and don’t expect them to be either.

Good advice. Following it will help managers to please their employees as they build their skills for greater career success.

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