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It All Depends on the Quality of Management

Steinbeis seminar provides insights into management psychology – a key success factor for companies

The Gallup Institute regularly conducts a worldwide study to gauge how motivated and loyal skilled workers feel about individual companies. The outcome: Up to 80% of employees who quit their job do so because of the manager they directly report to. They feel that they were badly treated, not given enough support, or either not appreciated or not allowed to play to their skills and preferences. Yet these are exactly the things that matter when trying to keep hold of good and successful people in the long term. Companies can no longer afford bad managers these days. There is a shortage of skilled workers, so it is becoming more and more important to manage people professionally and keep them loyal to the company. They should also be promoted according to the type of person they are. But that’s not everything a manager should do. Good management is also about an ability to solve conflicts constructively, lead teams efficiently, and run meetings properly according to the central topic and how people are feeling in psychological terms. Just how, is something the Alb- Schwarzwald Business School, a Steinbeis Transfer Institute, looks at in its seminar on the psychology of leadership.

More and more highly qualified specialists want to become involved in their company. They want to be treated as individuals. They want to be fostered. For modern managers, this can be quite a challenge and something that stretches people beyond their specialist area, especially if they had no psychological training while getting to where they are today. Yet one key success factor for them will be a solid grounding in psychological issues. This makes it possible to judge people properly and manage them individually, to consciously steer communication and tackle conflicts constructively by focusing on solutions. This all takes more than specialists or technical expertise; it requires psychological skills.

Can leadership skills be learned? Yes they can! This is because leadership is not about acquiring certain personal attributes; as a manager, one has to get to know the right tools and methods. These are needed to unravel complex conundrums and find individual solutions for any given situation. To do this properly, one has to be self-assured and possess problem-solving skills. Perhaps these will be required to deal with customers or employees who are supposedly being difficult; perhaps they will be needed to moderate complex workshops or meetings. This is because even if conflicts arise, and even if there will be differences in opinions, outcomes should revolve around clear goals.

When managing people becomes difficult, the last thing you need is a rigid instruction manual. It’s much more useful to draw on techniques and tools that make it easier to work out what’s actually going on in a certain situation and steer things toward a sensible solution. Modern communication and management psychology has the corresponding tool kit to do this. This can even help untangle highly confusing situations and tackle seemingly hopeless problems. Naturally, such instruments also help you to deal with normal situations encountered in everyday scenarios as a manager. They offer practical support in working out an individual way forward that should result in a positive outcome and ultimately help everyone succeed.

Managers shouldn’t have to spend days thinking about how to make things work. If they do find themselves outside their comfort zone, they’re always happy to have some useful techniques and analytical tools up their sleeve. These can be used to assess complex situations, pinpoint the actual cause for something not working, and point processes in the right direction so that an individual solution can be found.

What are the core communication competences a manager requires? One is the ability to manage meetings, even if things become difficult. Others are the ability to manage and solve conflict (without letting it get to you) and knowing how to steer teams in the right direction, despite rapid change in things going on all around. But without a doubt, the really big challenge is to ensure any decisions that are made receive the support of as many people as possible and are then implemented by them.

Alb-Schwarzwald Business School is now working with the renowned Schulz von Thun Institute to offer a course spanning five two-day modules and provide insights into communication and management psychology. The communication and psychology know-how is being shared by a lecturer from the Hamburg-based institute. It is also important that acquired know-how can be transferred into practice. Evening practice sessions take place between the modules to dig deeper into lessons learned and discuss how they can be applied to business. The feedback from course participants confirms that the concept is working for them, as one manager explained at a practice session: “My mindset is shifting, step by step, in terms of my own leadership role. I feel more confident now, even if I get into a situation that confuses me at first or looks like it could cause conflict.” This highlights how beneficial it can be to invest in your own management competence.


Ute Villing
Steinbeis Transfer Institute Business School Alb-Schwarzwald (Berlin/Gosheim)