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The Seven Talents - by Mark Deavall

For a long time now I have been writing and speaking about management and its various facets. I have been trying to demystify this “management thing” and make it understandable to the average man in the street. In so doing, I have had managers get really mad at me, and others show gratitude for giving them the development direction that they should follow in order to be good managers. 

In my last article, “Look After My Business”, I explored the qualities that a good manager needs to “bring to the party” in order for them to fulfill their management role effectively. So I thought that in this article, I would list the key skills that a manager needs to have, in order to get the best productivity from his or her staff. 

1)      Recruit right – if you recruit the right person from the “get go”, you will avoid 99% of the management headaches that you have right now. As a manager you need to know how to recruit the right person, for the right job, for the right reason, for the right money and at the right time. The cost to a company of employing the wrong person is huge and comes straight out of the bottom line, commonly called profit. Just as we spoke about the qualities that managers need to bring to the workplace, the same goes for when you are recruiting staff. Look for competence, but employ for qualities. Competence tells you that the person is able to do the job. The qualities of that person tell you how well the job will be done.

2)      Create an environment in which people can be motivated – This is an area that borders on “magic” or “voodoo” for most people. “How do I motivate my staff?” is the cry of most managers. It’s not that difficult. First you need to realise that you cannot sustainably motivate anyone. What you can do is to create an environment in which people can motivate themselves. But how? Find out what the strengths of each person are, and then allow them to operate in their strengths for the majority of their time. When people work to their strengths they stay motivated. Want to demotivate someone really quickly? Force them to do stuff that force them to work in their weaknesses for most of their time.

3)      Maintain discipline – managers need to be able to set parameters and then take decisive action when those parameters have been breached. Not every one of your staff is a little angel. There will be those that rebel and those that don’t care. In order to maintain a clear discipline in the workplace, there needs to be clear and decisive action taken when one of your staff steps over the parameter set by you. In other words, inside the parameters it is paradise on earth. Outside the parameters it is hell on earth. Managers need to carry an intimate working knowledge of the disciplinary procedures allowed by law, and then apply them without hesitation. Where there are no consequences for bad behaviour or performance, people won’t change. Just make sure that the severity of the correction fits the seriousness of the “crime”.

4)      Manage the performance of your employees – performance management is not the responsibility of your HR department. It is the responsibility of you – the manager. Performance management is also not something done once every three months. It is done every day. Performance management is simply keeping people mindful of their responsibilities, measuring their outputs and praising or correcting appropriately. The simpler the system the better. In fact, if you cannot manage someone’s performance on the back of a cigarette box, your system is too complicated. In fact, the job of a manager is to manage people’s performance!

5)      Delegate effectively – most of us don’t delegate, we abdicate. In other words we just give people things to do, and when the result that we get is not the result we were looking for, we blame them. Delegation is a powerful process that should be used for the growth and development of people. Essentially it is taking something that would not generally be in the scope of work for the individual, and gradually easing them into it until it becomes part of their scope of work. This means that when you are delegating, you have the responsibility and the accountability for a successful outcome. Delegating is NOT getting rid of work that you don’t like.

6)      Understand what your staff members are doing – you don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to have a working knowledge of everything that your staff members are doing. Otherwise how do you assign work to the appropriate people? Also, if you don’t have a working knowledge, people can pull the wool over your eyes. But remember, managers get things done – managers don’t do. If you are working until 23:00 hours and your staff members are going home at 16:30 hours, you are not managing, you are doing!

7)      Simplify – High performing companies and departments are ones where things are kept simple. Continually evaluate the processes and systems in your department and make sure they stay simple. When people work with simple processes and systems, they learn a lot more quickly and use them a lot more willingly.

So those are the seven core skills that a manager needs in his or her arsenal in order to be a good manager. Depending on the departmental role of the manager there will be other skills needed as well, such as financial understanding, managing sales territories, principles and application of marketing and so on. But these inescapable seven skills form the foundation of being a good manager.

Mark Deavall is the managing director of Merit Business Institute. If you would like to get in contact with Mark, please call him on 27 11 609-1264, or e-mail me.

For more articles, go to Mark’s blogs and on Twitter at

This article is under strict copyright and may not be altered in any way for any purpose. If you would like to copy this article for any reason (which you are welcome to do), please be sure to copy the entire article including this paragraph.

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