Managers & Their Core Competencies

Managers must have a set of core competencies or skills to be successful.
Managers must have a set of core competencies or skills to be successful. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

A core competency is a skill essential to the success of an organization and its employees. Managers’ core competencies are the set of skills that managers must have to be effective. Competencies are identified by the organization and used to hire managers and measure their performance. Core competencies also identify opportunities for developing or improving management skills. Core competencies are a combination of the individual manager’s knowledge, skills and abilities supported by organization-specific knowledge and culture.


The communications competency involves the ability to receive and convey information in a clear and concise manner appropriate to the audience. Effective communicators ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. They encourage employees to express opinions and ideas and give feedback in a positive, constructive manner. Effective communications include a focus on service, knowing and addressing the needs of both internal and external customers, keeping them informed and identifying and resolving problems as they arise.

Employee Management

Employee management involves hiring, training and managing a competent staff. Managers must identify the skills and qualifications required for each position and must also determine the number and type of employees necessary. The employee management competency includes the ability to develop and support employees in a fair manner, to provide constructive feedback about performance and to create opportunities for employees to develop new skills for career advancement.

Financial and Resource Management

Effective financial management includes preparing operational and capital budgets based on the organization’s strategic plan, justifying the budgets and then managing daily operations in accordance with the budgets. It may involve identifying vendors, negotiating and managing contracts, and conducting cost-benefit analysis on contracts, programs or services. It also includes understanding and using information technology, equipment, supplies and space effectively.


Managers with effective leadership skills get things done. They set the direction and make decisions in the context of the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic goals. They model integrity and accountability, accepting responsibility for problems and giving credit to others for accomplishments. They think analytically and use problem-solving techniques rather than making impulsive decisions, and they work to build consensus among team members.

Organizational Knowledge

Effective managers must know how to get things done in the organization. This means knowing the organization’s policies, procedures, and how decisions are made. It also means working within the organization’s power structure, traditions, values and culture. Effective managers consult frequently with organizational leaders and stakeholders before making decisions, and they consider the points of view of others.

Strategic Planning

Effective managers ensure that team and department goals are linked to the organization’s strategic goals. Effective managers identify and address internal and external problems that may affect the work or delivery of essential products and services. They develop and implement business plans for new products and services and manage projects to meet milestones.

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