The learning outcome that I will investigate in this report is to demonstrate the role of a managers interpersonal and communications skills.
Interpersonal skills are those skills that are used as a basis in part of everyday life where people interact with each other. To be precise, interpersonal skills are related to communication skills but are more specific about an individual’s behavior and include co-operating, sharing, listening, participating, leadership and negotiation.
Individuals with good interpersonal skills are easy to be around. They bond with other people naturally, seem to know the right things to say in different situations and make communication in general an easy procedure.
Communication skills on the other hand, are the skills in which people communicate through listening, talking, reading and writing. Listening is the first thing that a person learns to do so listening is extremely important to successful managing as not listening could lead to misinterpretation of instructions.
Here are some examples of the different skills that would be beneficial for a Boots manager to have
Co-operation – this is when two or more people work together jointly to do something. A Boots manager with good co-operation skills is vital. They need to be able to work with a team but have the superior knowledge to direct that team. An example of co-operation within Boots can be – Boots employees need to co-operate with their manager to ensure that there is a cohesive approach between managers and their staff. They would co-operate on things such as working hours, tasks to be completed etc.
Negotiation – negotiation is a discussion between a group of people to produce an agreement, negotiation is crucial. If a Boots manager wants to prove their interpersonal skills then they should be able to negotiate with employees, suppliers, and customers etc. to ensure the business runs effectively. Negotiation between managers and employees at a Boots store would likely include things such as working hours and any time off such as holidays that is needed.
Resolving conflicts – to solve or end a problem of disagreement between employees. If some of the employees do not get along it will be the job of the manager to resolve these issues to ensure a positive working environment is in place.
Agreeing targets and budgets – a manager will have to discuss budgets and targets with other managers for example line managers and supervisors. They will have to come to an agreement to budgets and targets that are realistically achievable. Examples of targets for an employee would be achieving a level 2 in retailing. This would include the member of staff undergoing training and testing to improve their skills of till work, customer service etc.
Interviewing skills – a good Boots manager should have good interviewing skills for recruiting any new staff to the store. They should know the right questions to ask i.e. open and closed questions at the right time.
Initiating discussion – if a manager starts a discussion sometimes if there is a problem or if someone does not understand, they may be reluctant to say anything. Therefore it is up to the manager to initiate the discussion if they feel an employee has a problem, they must be able to feel like they can open up to the manager.
Asking questions – it is the managers role to ask questions and to carefully listen to the answers to these questions so they can ensure that all employees are aware of where they stand and what is expected of them.
Seeking clarification – sometimes things are not always clear and problems can occur if instructions are vague. For example if a new system of ordering stock for customer orders is put in place in Boots then employees may have to seek clarification as to how to use the new system because they may not have understood the original instructions.
Summarising – summarising is essential in any business. When so much information has been fed to the employee from the manager they may need a recap as to what has been discussed. This could include a written summary for the employee to read over to ensure that they are totally aware of whatever has been discussed. Summarising will have been used to inform the Boots employee how to use the ordering system again, because they will have already known the basic things to do but just needed reminding.
Formal and informal -a manager should know when to be formal or informal. Most businesses including Boots are on first name terms with their staff, this is informal. But in the case of phone calls to head office for example, a formal approach should be taken. It is crucial that an appropriate approach is taken when dealing with customers in a business like Boots. On the checkout then the employee may act informally and ask how the person’s day has been to comfort the customer and relax them. However in some cases a formal approach needs to be taken. One of these cases includes pharmacy staff, they cannot act informally because it would be inappropriate, they need to act formally because they are dealing with private information and therefore should keep all information confidential and speak to the customer one on one.
Verbal and non-verbal – Verbal communication is when you make a speech
with another person and non-verbal can be done by body language and/or
sign language. A Boots manager should be able to use both of these forms communication, for example be able to tell the happiness of their staff by asking them and also observing their body language.
Some non verbal communication is sub-conscious and we are not aware we are doing it. Some of this body language can be seen as defensive and will in terms of applying for a job at Boots, would not allow the interviewer to see through the applicant and get a good knowledge of them. Some of this defensive body language includes – crossing your arms, frowning and leaning back in your chair.
Leaning slightly forward towards someone who is talking and maintaining eye contact shows your interest in the conversation. It is important for a Boots manager to always maintain this stature because even if they are very busy and may not feel like talking to an employee, they must seem to be interested and make the employee know that they can always talk to you or ask questions.
Listening – this is crucial, a manager needs to listen to its staff to get an understanding of their feelings and also to take directions from the people above them. It also goes the same for the employee. If a Boots manager instructs an employee to fill the shelves with a certain shampoo that is on offer it is essential that they listen to the brand of shampoo and carry out the task as it was asked. If they didn’t listen they are at risk of doing it wrong and could result in misleading customers.
Seeking clarifications – a manager does not always know all the answers. A good manager must be able to seek clarification and not assume that they know the correct answer. This is the same for the employee; if they receive an email or letter instructing them to carry out a certain task then they made need verbal clarification to enable them to understand the instruction better.
Responsiveness – Being responsive is when you make a positive and quick reaction to something or someone. A manager must be very responsive in terms of customer problems, staff problems and more. An efficient manager will be able to solve any problems within the business, resulting in an efficient business. In Boots, if a customer rings the store with an enquiry then the employee or manager should use all their power to answer the enquiry as quick as possible, if this means transferring the call to someone with more experience then it should be done, as long as Boots looks to be efficient and responsive.
Eye contact – Looking at the person, or people, talking to show you’re participating and paying attention to the conservation. If a manager looks disinterested it could put off an employee from talking to the manager again if they have any problems.
Body language – everybody uses their body and hands to express themselves. A good manager should be able to read body language to determine things such as staff happiness. If the manager gets the impression that one of their staff is unhappy with something by reading their body language then they should approach them and see if they can remedy the problem to ensure that the employee doesn’t get worse and even quit because of the problem that they might have.
Presentational skills – Having the ability to stand in front of a group of people and give information is a good skill for a manager to have. Boots have regular staff meetings and presentations that keep the staff up to date on the current affairs to do with Boots. A good manager should be able to successfully present something like this and make it interesting and informative. A Boots manager may use their presentational skills by using a presentation to inform all employees in on hit of the changes that are being made to the way that customer orders are dealt with. If the managers skills are up to scratch then all of the employees in the room should understand the new system.
Mirroring – this is where the manager follows the body language of the employee and adapts to his/her tone of voice and posture, whether it be in interviews or meetings. By doing this the employee is more likely to feel relaxed, accepted and more willing to listen to what the manager has to say. Boots encourage all of there staff to adapt this technique when they are working. For example if someone is leaning down to show the staff something then the staff member should also lean down to their level. This is to ensure that there is no feeling of superiority in terms of the staff member being above them and to relax the customer and show that the employee is interested in their question or query.
Being assertive in listening and speaking will mean that your intentions are clear to others and you understand others clearly and correctly. Accepting criticism from other people in the business must be received positively and not taken to heart otherwise this may cause outside conflict. Questioning others is one of the main skills in communicating so making sure your questions are non-threatening or impersonal will allow good communication.
Here are some examples as to when some of these skills could come in useful –
Appraisals are used to set targets for employees. The usual process would be to ask the employee to look at targets that have been set since the last appraisal and see if they have been successfully achieved. It also gives both the employee and the employer the opportunity to discuss any problems or issues that they have.
Interpersonal skills involve respecting the boundaries between the manager and employee. The appraisal therefore needs to be carried out professionally regardless of whether then things that are going to be discussed are already aware of between the two. For example if a Boots manager is aware that a member of its staff has already achieved their personal target of reducing pharmacy waiting times, they would still need to professionally record whether they have achieved the targets in the form of an appraisal.
There are three main types of management styles. These are autocratic, democratic and laissez faire.
The autocratic management style is one where the manager is used to give instructions. They tell people what to do instead of asking for their opinion on the matter in hand. The manager is the only person contributing to the decision making process in the business.
The democratic management style involves empowerment. Individual employees and teams are given the responsibility to make their own decisions. The individuals or team is then held responsible for the decisions that it chooses to make. The manager will have to feel comfortable with their employees and have a good understanding of them and decisions that they are making so that he/she doesn’t fall behind on what the business is doing. They will need continual feedback to the manager on their results. Also a lot of trust to be had by the managers for this to work effectively.
This style of management and leadership is where typically any form of control is passed on to someone else. The manager abdicates their power to its staff. It is where the controlled are given most or all of the decision-making power. This style of management allows for group members to have a say on the day to day running of the business which allows for personal growth. However it can result in targets not being met and staff going off track with no leader directing them.
Boots is an autocratic business in terms of store by store. There is a manager in every store that has an overall say on what goes on. However to a degree, power is abdicated to line managers in the store who will make their own decisions if they need to. If they couldn’t make any decisions then it would cause the business to be inefficient because it would be consulting the main manager every time a decision needs to be made which would take time.
Task Related Skills for Management at Boots
Task related skills means the specialist help or advice related to a specific or particular industry, in this case Boots which is in the pharmaceutical and beauty market. A manager at Boots will need knowledge of all the products and services that Boots offer. They will know the names of all the product ranges that Boots produce including the following –
Science (HairScience, BodyScience)
By being aware of the products and services offered the manager will be able to answer any questions posed about them whether they be from staff or customers. It will also enable them to make sound judgement on whether certain products work in their particular store and what sells better than others, thus allowing the store to be tailored specifically to what the customer wants.
Furthermore, industry related skills and knowledge are essential to any manager in all organisations. If the manager knows the industry well, they can use that experience to make the organisation as effective it can be. For example the retail industry that Boots is in is massive. And more importantly, the close competitors that Boots have all have the same aims and offer similar products. Superdrug is Boots main competitor as they offer very similar products for sometimes a cheaper price. If the manager is aware of competition and other retailers in the same industry then they can use this knowledge to ensure that Boots is ahead of its competition.
To measure a managers effectiveness, Boots head office could monitor the Boots managers successfulness in meeting their personal and team targets. If they have been met then it indicates that the business is being effectively managed and that the manager has good interpersonal and communication skills.
Boots could monitor their performance by reviewing how successful they have been in achieving their targets. Boots have a website that is used for information about the company which includes a section called CSR. CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibilities and shows all of the things that Boots do which make them a successful company. It shows their aims and objectives, targets and whether they have achieved them and much more. The CSR is provided in the appendix of this task.
Improving my own interpersonal and communication skills
As a Boots manager I need to ensure that my interpersonal and communication skills are good and are put to good use when I manage the discover trentham store. I have labeled my strengths, weaknesses and ways I could improve for both interpersonal and communication skills.-
> I am a friendly and easy going character to be around. I am able to make conversion easily with people I know.
> I am good at using persuasive skills whenever I need something from my staff
> Whenever I am at work, I try to encourage my staff to join in with what I am doing to get the job done quicker.
> When I am in a situation where I am under pressure to get work done so that I meet a certain deadline, I try to use co-operational skills so that I can get staff to help me achieve the deadline.
> I use questioning when I need to ask my staff questions.
> In many cases such as on Boots reports, I tend to use long sentences even though the information could be summed up in a couple of sentences
> Sometimes whenever I am ordered to complete a task, I do not seek clarification from the person above me, even though I should do because the task isn’t completed correctly/
Ways to improve
> I should try and apply more negotiation skills when I do not get what I want, instead of not settling for anything less I should try and negotiate a mutual ground. For example if I ask a member of staff to work extra time I should try and negotiate a slightly later starting time if they couldn’t work from the first time that I had stated.
> Try and improve my summarising skills to cut down on the size of the reports I have to complete on my Boots store.
> I am computer literate which enables me to make the most of modern ways of communicating.
> I use appropriate words when I am speaking to different people, when I speak to my friends and family I speak informally and when I speak to my staff I speak formally.
> I not only speak English but have a grade C GCSE in French and I am aware of most of the basic language. I also have a moderate understanding of German. These languages help break communication barriers at work if I sometimes need to speak to other nationalities in cases of international Boots meetings.
> I have a bad tendency of using long words and thinking that all of my staff will understand them.
> My hand writing is fairly messy which is bad as people on many
occasions have said to me that they cannot translate what I am trying
to say, even though I perfectly understand it.
Ways to Improve
> I could practice my hand-writing skills so that people can understand what I am trying to write, this will improve communication at work especially where I have to place numerous customer orders.
> I could also try and shorten the amount of words that I use when I am required to complete business reports.