Self-Management Skills at the Workplace: Do They Matter?

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Self-Management Skills at the Workplace: Do They Matter?

When employees (no matter the role/position) show strong self-management skills, they tend to be more successful in their organization. As a soft ability, self-management is trainable. The skills it encompasses can increase a person’s productivity and independence. We look for such self-management skills in managers in human resources, but we should not forget about them when we hire new coworkers either. Identifying and nurturing them means growing new leaders and creating stronger, more cohesive teams. Today, we will briefly discuss the most important self-management skills at the workplace and give you a definition, some examples, and a few tips on their identification and evaluation.

What Is the Best Definition Of Self-Management Skills?

While there is no ultimate self-management skills definition, recruiters and HR experts agree that self-management is a person’s ability to regulate and control thoughts, feelings, and actions. Such skills allow us to manage ourselves to focus better on our priorities and goals.

In a working environment, these self-management skills (many of whom we have already discussed) are valuable employability soft skills, especially when we want to hire and grow project managers and leaders. As you can easily imagine, the earlier we identify such skills, the better we can build employee growth programs.

Nevertheless, since they are soft skills (and sometimes almost invisible to the outside world), we need to learn what to look for in our existing and future coworkers. So let’s see some self-management skills we all have to pay attention to when hiring new candidates and evaluating established employees!

Self-Management Skills List: The Top 5

top five self-management skills

A person displaying self-management skills can set goals independently and then take the initiative to accomplish them. They can also harness internal motivation, self-awareness, and emotional control to navigate stressful situations like a champion. But it is only scratching the surface, as we need to go deeper and identify some of the most important self-management skills examples that we are likely to come across daily at the workplace.

1. Self-Awareness/Adaptability

Self-aware people understand the causes of their behaviors; they can recognize the thoughts and emotions triggering their actions; ultimately, they have a solid grasp of how their behaviors may affect others. Self-awareness is difficult to observe from the outside, but not impossible, as we will soon see.

It goes hand in hand with adaptability and self-actualization – some of the most vital leadership skills we seek and evaluate these days. It is a hot topic in psychological research because of its close relationship with personality, attention, and behavior.

Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self, including traits, behaviors, and feelings. Essentially, it is a psychological state in which oneself becomes the focus of attention. It is one of the first components of the self-concept to emerge. While self-awareness is central to who you are, it is not something that you are acutely focused on at every moment of every day. Instead, self-awareness becomes woven into the fabric of who you are and emerges at different points depending on the situation and your personality.​

Rochat, P. Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold early in life. Consciousness and Cognition. 2003;12(4):717-31. doi:10.1016/S1053-8100(03)00081-3

2. Stress Management

We have specialty literature and research dedicated exclusively to stress management at the workplace. Dealing with stressful situations, making it through pressure, confusion, conflict, etc., are skills and traits we hire for and nurture in the organization. We had covered this topic in length when we discussed conflict resolution skills and conflict management styles.

However, stress management also has a lot to do with self-motivation and successful coping mechanisms, assertiveness, and adaptability. According to the APA, stress management represents

the use of specific techniques, strategies, or programs – such as relaxation training, the anticipation of stress reactions, and breathing techniques – for dealing with stress-inducing situations and the state of being stressed.

If self-awareness is hard to notice objectively, stress management is more visible to the naked eye. We all have coworkers who seem to deal better with stress than others. However, our employee growth programs should address both categories, as stress is one of the most damaging factors for life and work in any organization.

3. Positive Mindset

Positive thinking or an optimistic attitude is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation in life or at the workplace. It is an organizational core value in many companies, and managers go above and beyond to nurture positive mindsets in their employees.

However, being optimistic and focusing on the good does not mean ignoring reality or making light of problems. Science already proved that positive mindsets have an enormously beneficial impact on individuals’ physical and mental health.

The optimistic attitude strengthens coping mechanisms and sustains better stress management, among others.

When it comes to observing and assessing self-management skills, positivity at the workplace is one of the most visible attitudes. Employees mastering this skill are usually the ones who:

  • Show genuine respect for others and their work;
  • Prove commitment to their jobs and their self-improvement;
  • Spread around a charming and contagious enthusiasm about life and work;
  • Come up with innovative ideas and new ways to better the work and lives of others;
  • Are helpful and kind to others.

Just by looking at these observable behaviors of people with positive mindsets, you can figure out that you have emerging leaders that the organization has to encourage and help grow.

4. Responsibility & Accountability

Many people mistake responsibility for accountability, but while similar, they translate into different behaviors and attitudes. In management and human resources, the broad definition of accountability goes like this:

Individuals’ willingness to account for their actions, accept responsibility for them and transparently disclose the results. 

On a more personal level, accountability means taking ownership of one’s thoughts and behaviors. It is about coming forward when we make mistakes instead of finding all sorts of excuses. However, truly accountable employees go beyond admitting an error and apologize. They also help find a solution. Moreover, besides owning up to their mistakes and shortcomings, accountable employees also learn valuable lessons that further their experience and helps them deliver better results next time.

As you can see, assuming work responsibilities and being accountable for the results are quite different things.

Accountability also means owning up to decisions (good or bad). If anything goes wrong, accountable people also focus on managing their stress levels, others’ stress levels, and the conflicts that may arise from that particular situation.

Overall, accountability is a key component of trustworthiness and reliability, soft teamwork skills that all organizations hire for and nurture in their growth programs.  

5. Conscientiousness

This personality trait encompasses plenty of self-management skills, attitudes, and behaviors that you can observe and test in the workplace. Competence, self-discipline, organization and prioritization skills, goal-driven actions, diligence, carefulness, and more. They are all the building blocks of a conscientious personality.

If you have such employees in the organization – and you should, as this personality trait is a predictor for job performance – their coworkers probably describe them in the following terms:

  • Kind and thoughtful;
  • Non-conflictual, impulsive or aggressive;
  • Reliable – as they show great time management skills;
  • Punctual;
  • Keep their promises and are accountable;
  • Never miss payments or deadlines;
  • Do not engage in risky behaviors;
  • Engage in self-care and the care of others.

When you refine your talent acquisition and retention strategies, you should focus on using personality inventories to hire new employees and evaluate existing ones. Such traits and behaviors are rare and precious.

Other Observable Self-Management Skills at the Workplace

The five skills we described here are not the only ones you should pay attention to or test. It would help if you also kept an eye on the following skills:

  • Organization and prioritization;
  • Goal setting;
  • Time management;
  • Self-motivation;
  • Self-preservation.

As you can see, such skills fall under larger categories we talked about extensively. The good part is that you have plenty of tools to identify and measure self-management skills, no matter how subtle they are.

How Do You Evaluate Self-Management Skills?

When it comes to pre-employment assessments to hire new candidates, we recommend using a customized hiring system containing a mix of personality & behavior tests to pinpoint conscientiousness, positivity, adaptability, and more. Of course, behavioral interviews, cognitive testing, simulations, employee references, and scorecards are also useful tools.

The beauty of such a hiring system is that you can put it to good use to evaluate new candidates and established employees. While personality traits remain relatively stable in time, other self-management skills are trainable. It is crucial to monitor your coworkers’ journeys and progress for your employee growth programs.

Bottom Line

Did you ever assess or monitor self-management skills in new or established employees? What other such skills do you find to be vital to organizational success? We’d love to hear more about your current practice and experiences on this topic!

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