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Qualities of a Great Manager

In the call center environment we are often only as successful as the people we hire. While our front line employees are critical to our business, choosing the right managers powerfully impact your success. So what makes a good manager? Ask 100 people and you might get 100 different answers. While the behaviors that make a great manager may be open to interpretation, there are some competencies and corresponding questions, which stand the test of time.

I think the face of business has entered an era of global mobility and flexibility. To be a successful manager in today's business world you have to be able to shift gears and cope with change effectively. You have to be able to make decisions without knowing all of the details or be able to see the big picture. Today's managers have to be able to function in an atmosphere of ambiguity in order to be successful.

Learning how to deal with ambiguity is no small task and some managers are more comfortable with it than others. You can discover a candidate's comfort level with a few questions that assess how well they handle ambiguity.

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without having complete information. What did you learn?

Tell me about a time when you were not given clear instructions regarding a task to be completed and how did you handle it.

Given that we face an ever-changing market place, effective managers must have strong Business Acumen. They have to be aware of the competition, best practices and market trends to stay ahead of the game. Today's managers must not only think about getting the job done today but must focus strategically on what it will take to get the job done tomorrow. They have to be able to track data, trends and information with an eye on how it is, or will, impact their business.

Can your management candidate synthesize information and make appropriate decisions based on the data available to them?

How do you stay up to date on your competition? What are their strengths? How do you attack them? What do you see happening with them in the future?

What are your key sources for business information? How frequently do you need/use them? Give me an example of how you have used information gained from this material in a sales situation?

What global factors are currently affecting business here in the United States? What has been the cause? How are companies/industries responding to these factors?

Having Customer Focus is more important now than ever. Customers have more choices about whom they do business with. A manager that can establish effective relationships with customers is able to create customer loyalty and build trust. Interaction with the customers allows managers to garner customer information to use it for improvements in products and services. Businesses that act with the customer in mind have proven to be more successful.

Does your management candidate interact with customers? Do they have customer service experience that can drive your call center performance? How do you know they will be able to resolve customer issues that may arise? You might ask them about several customer service experiences.

Tell me about two customer related situations, which were personally difficult for you? What made them tough to deal with? What did you learn?

How do you get and keep up to date information from customers and what do you do with it?

Today's global economy requires that managers be able to interact and understand all kinds and classes of people. They must manage diversity dealing effectively with all races, nationalities and cultures. Managers today need to be confident in hiring variety and diversity by supporting equal and fair treatment for all.

Managers who can work effectively with divers groups are becoming more and more necessary. How will you know if your candidate has the skills you need to grow in a global environment?

Describe a situation in which you were able to effectively "read" another person and guide your actions by your understanding of their needs and values.

Tell me about the most difficult or frustrating individual that you've ever had to work with, and how you managed to work with them.

A significant part of being an effective manager and producing results is being able to Motivate Others. Effective managers are able to create a climate in which people want to do their best. They make people feel as if their work is important and they empower people to contribute ideas, make decisions, and share ownership. Managers are able to deduce individual motivators and use them to increase performance.

Motivating people is about tapping into their ego, their desires or their future goals. Finding someone who can readily motivate people can be challenging. You will need someone who can build relationships and who also understands that different people need different motivators.

Tell me about some of the motivational factors that you see as pertinent for effective team development? What kind of team was being developed? What did you learn?

Tell me how you have increased workers morale and what was the benefit?

Describe for me your most successful motivational effort.

Today's managers must also be able to take raw talent and develop direct reports. Setting clear goals and directions, assigning work fairly and providing timely feedback, accomplish this. They must be able to deal with problems effectively and provide ongoing development plans. Effective Managers are aware of their people's career goals and provide challenging and stretching tasks in order to help them reach those goals.

An effective candidate will have the ability to provide ongoing coaching and feedback that improves performance. They will understand how people learn and will set clear goals and outcomes for ongoing development. How will you know if your candidate can develop people? Look for answers where they were in a developmental role even if they weren't a manager of direct reports.

Tell me about a time when you worked with someone to help them learn a new skill. What steps did you take? What was the outcome?

Tell about at time when you set objectives or goals that forced others to stretch in order to accomplish them.

Give an example of when you maintained two-way dialogue with others about work and work results. What was the result?

Very few people in today's business world are responsible for providing the end product or service alone. Managers need to be able to build effective teams and relationships in order to accomplish business priorities and goals. They define success in terms of the whole team's performance and will allow people to be responsible for the work they do. They must balance that with the ability to provide the information their team members need to do complete their tasks while helping them feel good about the work that they do. Informing is a critical task in productivity and team building.

In call centers a manager often leads a team, while participating as part of a team. Can your candidate build effective team relationships?

Tell me about a time when you perceived that someone was not happy on your team. How did you find out they were not happy and what did you do about it? What did you learn?

Give me two examples of when you used different modes to convey the same information.

Tell me which of the following is your favorite mode of communicating at work, written, oral, or email. Give an example that shows why it's your favorite.

Tell me about a time when you initially did not feel good about being a team member, and what you did to change your feelings. What did you learn?

Let's be realistic, today's business needs to be productive, competitive and profitable. An effective manager has to be able to Drive for Results and exceed goals. Companies won't be in business long if they cannot keep an eye on the bottom line while pushing for results. In order to create a successful business, great managers first must understand their business, their customers and their people and be able to take that information and use it to mold results.

Today's competitive environment requires a manager that can think on their feet, motivate others and create success despite the odds. Can your can candidate provide examples that encourage you to hire them?

Tell me about a time when you got results even though some significant factors were working against you (competition, internal customer differences, budget, etc.). What did you do that made you different from the others?

Tell me about occasions where you far exceeded expectations. What were the expectations and what did you do to exceed them?

Give me an example of a business situation in which you had to think and act quickly. What was the problem? What alternatives did you consider? What were the results of your decision?

Finding a candidate with the perfect balance of all of these competencies might be difficult. Decide which results are most important to you and your organization, determine which competencies best match your needs and consider asking the related questions in your interview process. Look for individuals with the best mix of attributes and skills. With the proper competencies in mind choosing the best candidates will be an easier task. You can be confidant about the people and develop and be at ease to be judged by how good they are.

If you are interest in leadership theory and practices then you need to visit: Carole Sue Jones is a contributing writer and thinker for our organization. In addition, as a leader you may be interested in

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