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Sarah Hardaman

Wes Lybrand
UNIV 300-1C Career Mapping
November 1, 2015
Manager Interview
I interviewed Alberto Coutoumanos, who is the Human
Resources and Marketing Manager at Seal Harris Clinic. I gained a lot
of insight on what it is like to be in a managerial position and what
skills are needed daily to be successful. Mr. Coutoumanos answered
ten questions about leadership and his answers are as follows:
1. What skills and traits would be considered essential for
someone to be successful in a management role in your organization?
It is important to recognize that although an individual is good
at what they do, that alone is not an indication that they are the best
person to be in a management role. Oftentimes top performers do not
wish to be in leadership roles or do not have traits that make them
ideal as leaders. Essential skills for someone to be successful in a
management role include leadership and organization capabilities, as
well as communication, strategic/planning, and interpersonal skills.
2. Why is each of these skills or traits important?
Leadership is important to be able to inspire others to perform
duties to achieve the goals of the business or department. Good

communication skills allow you to clearly communicate specific


duties, objectives, goals, etc. It also allows you to be approachable
and able to receive feedback or answer questions explicitly. Being able
to communicate department progress and needs to upper
management or owners, and also to receive goals and objectives
to organize, plan, and then communicate them to employees, is also
necessary. Organization requires you to be able to use your
resources in a way that is efficient and rewarding for the business and
the employee. Examples include: organizing employees, teams,
balancing experienced and inexperienced employees or those with
talents that aid each other to develop skills, structuring schedules,
work etc. in measurable ways to make sure goals are being met and
they are being met efficiently. Strategic/planning skills are
important in forecasting the needs of the department such as
resources, employment, physical space, materials, time, etc. They also
equip you to evaluate systems and find ways to improve or plan more
accurately. Interpersonal skills give you an upper hand to empathize
and get on the same level as an employee to bring them up. It bridges
communication and leadership, and also makes you able to effectively
address deficiencies in employee performance and reinforce employees
with rewards.
3. How do employees learn to perform well in these areas?

A lot of it is personality, but it can also be developed with


practice and experience. Trial and error is very effective. It is
important to understand that no one will start out perfect, and it is
also important to identify strengths and weaknesses via introspection
and feedback in order to consciously improve in those areas. Time,
experience, and feedback are key.
4. What behaviors do employees exhibit that indicate competence in
the areas?
Empathy, ability to communicate, being able to find the source
for complaints or criticisms without getting personal, and remaining
objective all exhibit competence. Confidence only goes so far, but
when it is backed with experience and knowledge, it shows
competence. At the same time, humility leads to growth and ability to
grow further. Analyzing previous methods and results and improving
them also shows competence in organizing and planning, therefore,
being innovative and finding new solutions to problems.
5. What advice would you give a prospective employee on how to
gain experience in these areas?
I encourage them to identify their strengths and weaknesses and find
opportunities to practice them. Outside or volunteer organizations and
clubs allow opportunities to practice skills like teamwork, leadership,
planning, etc.

6. How do employees learn about whats going on in the


company?
Monthly newsletters, employee bulletin boards where
employees and managers post announcements, news, etc. An online
employee portal also provides resources and methods of
communication.
7. What do you think is the toughest reality for a student when
transitioning from college to the reality of their first job in their career?
Understanding that you have to start somewhere and it is rarely
(never) at the top. Experience not only helps you develop into a better
person/employee, but it prepares you for challenges early that arent
as costly as they could be in the future. Paying your dues also shows
colleagues, subordinates, etc. that youre personally invested and
willing to put in the work to grow and succeed.
8. What is one mistake you witness leaders making more
frequently than others?
If I had to reduce it down to one, I would combine a few and
define it broadly as inconsistency. This can be in relation to employee
relations, such as being stricter with some and lenient towards others.
For example, allowing an employee who is frequently tardy to have a
pass simply because they are a high performer, while disciplining
another employee for their tardiness because they dont perform as

well. Everyone wants to be liked and seen as a friend, but sometimes


it gets in the way of maintaining productivity. When productivity
declines, the opposite could become true by suddenly being too strict
or hands-on. It is a difficult balance to maintain.
9. What are the most important decisions that you face daily as
a leader in your organization?
Balancing personal beliefs with corporate goals. For example, if
a department needs to be downsized and the quota is based on
productivity over length of service, you may face terminating a longterm employee who is in a hard part of their life. These can be
personally tough because oftentimes it is hard to keep personal and
work relationships separate. Also, making sure that decisions are
based on the needs of the company and not solely on personal ideas.
Deciding which battles to fight and knowing when to stand up for a
cause or change that you believe in, will better the company even if
owners do not see it that way. If you are able to show them that you
believe it and they have trust in you, they will be more likely to hear
you out. Oftentimes, you can influence change. Other times, their
mind is made up, but in the end everyone will know that you spoke up
and defended your stance, which shows conviction and critical thinking
which are both good traits!
10. Have you ever taken on a job that you were unqualified for?

Yes. It is most important to stay humble. Do not assume you


can make it up and just get by. Know when to say, I dont know or
Let me look into that instead of making up an answer. Be upfront if
you arent certain and you will be respected for your honesty. Most
qualifications come with experience.
Of the skills listed by Mr. Coutoumanos, interpersonal skills and
communication skills are my strengths. I am able to empathize and
relate to my peers, as well as effectively communicate information as
it needs to be relayed to those around me. My challenges would be
organization and planning. Being able to plan and structure my own
schedule is something I need to improve on, which will also help me
learn how to use those skills in a work environment.
I plan to take action to gain more experience that allows me
opportunities to use these important skills necessary to be a great
leader. As Mr. Coutoumanos stated, most qualifications come with
experience, so I will need to make sure I am further qualified and fit
for a management role of some sort someday. Volunteering for
organizations or participating in activities available to me will be the
first place I look for those opportunities. Also, I will take action to
improve the skills where I am lacking in order to be well rounded and
qualified in all areas. Since it is essential to have good organization
and planning skills, I can start organizing my responsibilities more

effectively and improve my planning skills throughout my everyday


life. Setting attainable, short-term goals that will make a big difference
in the long run, will be the key to my action plan.