Does a manager need to be a psychologist?

The skills of a psychologist could come in handy for any manager. One thing you do need as a manager is good “people skills”.

Don’t assume everyone is like you and operates in the same way. We are not machines. Psychologists understand human differences and have many strategies up their sleeves for dealing with individual differences. Much of it is good listening and questioning skills to learn more about what makes each person happy and productive.


Different people require different ways of delegating, so while some people say we should treat people equally, the reality is that we need to consider each person’s skills and abilities when delegating. Some require strong clear instructions, especially when they are new to the role, unsure and when there is a safety or compliance issue. Most people need involvement in the actual delegation, while others need to be left alone to work it out themselves.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to assess an individual’s skills, experience and commitment. You need to be able to assess their needs and change your delegation style accordingly. And one great way to manage delegation is to ask people what works best for them.

Explaining and training

Learning styles are important to understand. Different people like different ways of learning. Some like explanation or demonstration to just having a go, while others like to learn on their own without supervision. The best way to work out the right approach is to ASK each person what is their preferred method of learning then vary your approach. Try the buddy mentoring approach to support your training.

And remember you need to be tolerant of everyone’s pace of learning. Some people do need explanation several times, and extensive periods of practice before they achieve mastery of a skill. Others may pick up skills faster. This speed of learning does not always predict who will do the task best down the track.


Without being able to offer extra money, some managers feel they lack the power to motivate their people. The reality is that money is not necessarily the best motivator. What many people appreciate is appreciation for a job well done, and this boosts morale and makes people feel good.

As a manager you need to give feedback… positive as well as constructive negative feedback, and even this constructive feedback can be motivating to help people improve. Young people especially crave feedback and appreciate knowing what will make them do better.

Involve people in decisions, changes, strategies and process management – it is always motivating to be involved in the direction of the team.

Make the workplace a positive, fun place where people enjoy their work. This is motivating and it is a culture a manager needs to create. And again – ASK people what motivates them at work. What is it they need?

Eve Ash appears with fellow psychologist Peter Quarry in the new DVD Manager and Psychologist. Eve has produced hundreds of DVDs and assessment tools to help people develop their management and communication skills.


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