The Interpersonal Skills a Manager Needs 5

For a long time, IQ was lauded as the measurement of how likely one was to succeed. Many years and much research later, it was shown that in actual fact one’s EQ (emotional intelligence) is a clearer indicator of potential business success than not only a high IQ, but even of relevant previous experience.

The EQ is closely related to interpersonal skills. For someone in a managerial position, interpersonal skills are especially important. Interpersonal skills become more and more important as a person moves up the managerial ranks.

Whether you’re looking out for someone with managerial qualities, or you want to make sure your current managers have all the right skills, these are some of the interpersonal skills an effective manager should have.

Communicating clearly and concisely

One of the most vital interpersonal skills is effective communication. Managers need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate across instructions, feedback, and any other point ideas. Good communication requires that one know how to break down a message into simple parts and distil the core message from extraneous fluff. It also entails knowing how to translate the message for the specific listener. For instance, communicating across a technical matter to a junior trainee would be done differently than to a senior executive.


Good communication is not a one-way process, however. A manager also needs to be able to listen. Effective listening means listening attentively and being able to put one’s self in the speaker’s shoes. Good listening also includes being able to pick up on nonverbal cues, make allowances for cultural differences, and knowing that sometimes what’s even more important than what’s being said is what’s being unsaid.

Conflict management

In a work environment, conflict is always going to be an element. The thing that many people don’t realise is that conflict need not be a bad thing. Conflict can be healthy. It’s how the conflict is handled that is important. A manager needs to be able to deal with conflict without losing their temper, give constructive criticism rather than personal attacks, and defuse tense situations fairly.  

Conflict needs to be handled tactfully and positively. However, even though conflict can be healthy, there are times when it is unnecessary. Is the manager someone who can resolve unnecessary conflict before it even starts, or is he the instigator of it?


When working with people every day, building rapport with them is very useful. This establishes trust, mutual understanding and unity – all vital when working as part of a team. Also, being able to be on good terms with everyone will go a long way in smoothing out potential issues.  However, it’s also important to know where to draw the line between being someone’s superior and their friend.

A manager who lacks interpersonal skills generally doesn’t make for a good leader. Thankfully, it’s easier to improve an employee’s EQ than their IQ. So if they are lacking in any skills, they will likely be addressed in management courses. It’s important that managers know how to play well with others, as this will boost productivity, performance and morale.


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5 thoughts on “The Interpersonal Skills a Manager Needs

  • Venita Oberholster

    Thanks Chantel.  It is true but I believe unavoidable, as many First Line Managers needs both technical and managerial skills.  Managerial skills can however be developed by experience and training, unfortunately this is not always realised.   I think of myself at age 24 in a supervisory position and I cringe, but at the time I was under the impression that I’m doing great!  This is where the role of performance evaluation is critical.

  • Chantel Harris Post author

    What you’re saying is very true, Venita. I have seen this often – people with all the technical knowledge, but none of the interpersonal skills, being promoted. In my experience, this leads to a lot of conflict and unhappiness in the office. Thanks for your comment!

  • Des Squire

    Of course we must not forget “Ability to delegate” to others while at the same time recognising the Innovative thinking and ability of others. managers must demonstrate leadership qualities and lead from the front if they want to exemplify good interpersonal skills.

  • Venita Oberholster

    In my experience this is very true. It is usually a lack of these skills that present the greatest obstacles for new First-Line Managers. First-line managers need to make the transition to these new realities and it isn’t always easy, in part because many of the people who are promoted to this first managerial level are technicians; they have spent their time developing great skills at carrying out a given assignment rather than being in touch with the needs and expectations of their peers. They haven’t undergone the workplace socialization that would provide useful insights and experiences for a new manager.