How to assess people manager skills

how to asses people manager skills feature

Business is about people, whether they be clients, co-workers, or subordinates. But it’s managing the latter group that can be especially difficult without the necessary people management skills. 

If you want to hire a great candidate for a leadership role that can manage conflict and the team’s strengths and weaknesses, then you need to know how their minds work. Skills assessments will help you do this. 

Let’s examine what people manager skills are necessary for success, why you need them, and how to assess these skills in new candidates.

What is a people manager skills assessment?

A people manager skills assessment examines how well a candidate can manage people. The assessment evaluates whether or not the candidate can empathize with, motivate, direct, and lead the people who work with or under them. 

These are necessary skills for anyone who has to head a team, but they’re also sorely lacking in modern workforces. With only 48% of employees thinking their company has good leadership, an assessment is essential in combating bad management practices. 

People management assessments can range from personality tests to ethics questionnaires. These help you establish the candidate’s baseline personality and leadership style. 

Do they value a gentle, friendship-like approach to leadership? Do they appreciate harmony over results? Or are they strict people managers who prioritize hierarchy and micro-management?

An assessment helps you filter out the candidates without the skills to manage effectively. It also highlights those applicants with the management skills you and your company want. 

Why are people manager skills important?

A great leader must know their team and how to manage their personalities. They must resolve conflict amicably, encourage team cohesion, and inspire those around them. They should also encourage order, harmony, and communication. 

It’s a tall order but a necessary one. Why? Because employees that are in a stable and happy working environment will be more engaged, and higher engagement is the best way to increase a company’s productivity. 

However, managers need to have a range of management skills to do these things well. 

Without them, they won’t know how to make their teams feel inspired, understood, and supported. They also won’t be able to manage the intricate web of emotions in the workplace. 

Suppose you want a great manager who can bring out the best in your employees, assist them to strengthen their skills, and provide help and support. In that case, you need candidates with people management skills. 

The best way to find managers with these traits is to do skills assessments alongside thorough interviews.

Once you’ve tested the candidates and removed those who don’t have the right skills, you can whittle the prospects down until you have the best candidates to take forward to the interview stage.. 

From there, you can choose the candidate that will improve employee relations and productivity and ultimately increase profit. 

What skills and traits are important for people managers?

The below skills and personality traits are part and parcel of a great people manager. 

Of course, you don’t need to hire an employee with all of these skills and traits. The people management skills you require may differ from that of another company. It all depends on the type of work environment you want, the kind of work you do, and your revenue goals. 

Instead, use the list to identify the traits you think are the best fit, do a leadership skills assessment to learn more about the candidates, conduct interviews, and hire the one that fits the bill. 

What skills and traits are important for people managers Explanation

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is understanding and directing emotions to relieve stress, resolve conflict, and encourage employees. It’s considered a “soft” skill and is often forgotten during the hiring process. 

But emotional intelligence is a key marker of solid leadership. It is the driving force behind almost every other trait on this list. With high emotional intelligence, a people manager can reach their full potential. 

Emotional intelligence is what gives people the ability to understand others. A people manager with this skill knows the “why” and “how” behind employee reactions and motivations. They then know how to use these to better the company and the relationships in the office. 

If a manager doesn’t understand the primary motivations of their team members, they’ll struggle to direct the team or grow it successfully.  

Effective communication

When discussing effective communication, we talk about verbal and non-verbal communication. This includes the following:

  • Spoken word
  • Written communication
  • Tone of voice 
  • Body language
  • Posture
  • Facial expressions
  • Hand gestures
  • Eye contact

A people manager needs to understand what they say and how they present what they’re saying to their employees. 

If a manager tries to be encouraging, but their words don’t match their facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language, the employee won’t trust what they hear. 

Managers need to know how to turn their communication cues into tools for the company’s betterment. 

Effective communication is also necessary for smooth business operations. The manager must know how to be clear about tasks, deadlines, and client needs without overwhelming employees. They also need to deliver criticism without belittling and be able to drive results without being harsh or mean. 

They also need to know how to talk to clients. Good communication satisfies the client’s needs, builds relationships, and improves the company’s reputation. 

Active listening

Miscommunication and passive listening can be a severe detriment to a business. The worst part? It spreads. One bit of miscommunication can ruin a workplace relationship and tarnish employees’ impressions of their manager. 

To ensure the happiness of your employees and to gain and keep their trust, the manager needs to practice active listening

Active listening is the ability to be present and engaged when hearing information. It’s the ability to listen to and understand, retain, and reflect on the information. 

People managers who actively listen to their employees are better equipped to manage interpersonal relationships, workplace conflicts, and other issues. 

Active listening also isn’t just about resolving issues but preventing them. If a manager is tuned in, they’ll notice problems before they arise. 

Finally, active listening shows employees that you value what they say. An employee that feels valued will be more productive and produce better work. 


A self-aware manager will reflect on their actions and monitor their growth. They’ll be aware of their issues and reflect on feedback that employees bring up about their behavior. 

Self-awareness is also a marker of confidence. Self-aware managers won’t punish employees for their criticism. This inspires other employees to better themselves and objectively examine how they work and manage workplace relationships. 

Stress management 

Stress and leadership positions go hand in hand. Whether it be a conflict between employees or a difficult client, a manager must handle their stress, emotions, and work calmly under pressure. 

A person who can’t handle stress won’t be a good manager, and is at risk from burnout. They’ll lose patience quickly and snap at employees. Subordinates also lose confidence in their work and the company if they can’t rely on their manager for guidance in difficult situations. 

Finding a candidate who thrives in stressful situations or knows how to manage pressure when it inevitably comes is essential. 

Conflict resolution

Avoiding conflict in the workplace is impossible. That’s why a manager that can quickly and fairly deal with conflict is a must. They need to listen to the issues presented by employees and use their knowledge to bring about a resolution.

The ability to resolve conflict also means knowing how to negotiate. As a mediator, the manager must stay impartial and intervene where necessary. Their goal should be to resolve the issue, avoid resentment, and get everyone back to doing the best work.


Leadership agility and adaptability are necessary for conflict resolution, negotiations, and decision-making. If managers can’t adapt to situations or new information, they’ll be overwhelmed and stuck in a thought loop or behavior pattern. This isn’t beneficial for their team or the company. 

Adaptability and flexibility is also a sign of sound judgment. If they can adapt to new information, they’ll make good decisions even when deadlines are involved. 


A manager that can take swift action inspires confidence. Whether it’s problems with employees or clients, they need to make decisions quickly while maintaining the company’s interests. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean they should be harsh or take unnecessary risks. They should always handle difficult situations calmly and rationally. But they shouldn’t be slow or insecure about the choices they make. 


Being a supportive manager is a great way to bring out the best in employees. A supportive manager knows how to encourage and motivate employees, how to play to their strengths, supplement their weaknesses, and how to make them feel seen. 

An environment that feels safe and supportive will make employees happier, keep them engaged, and encourage them to improve their skills. They’ll also be comfortable enough to listen to constructive criticism and work on improving their skills. 


As with all good things, a healthy dose of balance is good. The same applies to managers. Finding a manager who can bring balance into the workplace is important. Balance means creating a space between work, play, friendship, and leadership. 

A dynamic, balanced manager like this brings out the workforce’s best, keeps employees motivated, and ensures workplace-related things are interesting and enjoyable. 


There are many ways to create a positive company culture. Still, there is no way to guarantee employees feel invested in it. But with benefits like attracting and retaining that talent, management must prioritize employee involvement. 

A manager that fosters company culture knows how to engage employees. They know how to sell company culture genuinely and excitingly. They get employees to participate in company events and invest in the company’s health and growth. 

If your teams are invested in the company’s well-being, we guarantee the profit margins will reflect it. 

4 people management skills and traits tests

It’s time to hire a great candidate. Use the above skills and traits to determine the type of people manager you want, and then use these four people management  tests to find the ones that match. 

One thing to keep in mind is that personality tests alone should never be used to make hiring decisions. They are intended to give you a deeper understanding of your candidates and how they see themselves and the world. The best way to use personality tests is as part of a wider assessment that includes other skills tests.

4 people management skills and traits tests explanation

1. Leadership & People Management test

The Leadership & People Management test is based on the work of the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership model. This model argues that there is no one leadership style. Instead, leadership should adapt to situations and people.

This test evaluates potential leaders and people managers in real-life business situations. The candidates face scenarios where they must tell, sell, delegate, or participate. 

Based on the test results, you’ll know how the candidate: 

  • Manages task delegation and employee management
  • Deals with feedback and feedback timelines
  • Handles responsibility
  • Guides employees and develops their skills
  • Provides employees with support
  • Gains the green light for projects

Because this test evaluates candidates based on real-life situations, it’s the best indicator of how they manage real issues. From managing tasks to delegating, this test shows how managers work when they are left to handle things independently. 

2. Enneagram Personality test

The Enneagram Personality test is a world-renowned personality test. It is based on the work of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, who developed a model for determining people’s core beliefs using a nine-pointed diagram. 

Not only does it identify the core beliefs, but it also shows the relationship between the person’s core beliefs and how this manifests in their personality. 

The nine types of Enneagram personalities are: 

  1. Type One – Improver: The first type is goal-oriented. To them, the only thing that matters is getting things done right. They have strong ideas about justice and are dedicated to maintaining the high standards of their company.
  2.  Type Two – Giver: As the name suggests, the giver is dedicated to helping others thrive. They are generous and value harmony, teamwork, and satisfying interpersonal relationships. 
  3. Type Three – Go-getter: The go-getter is dedicated to mastering themselves and achieving their goals. They are pragmatic, ambitious, and status-conscious. They are especially good at adapting to situations and charming people. 
  4. Type Four – Contemplator: Although the contemplator is a bit of a loner, they still make good managers. They’re reserved but creative, and their emotional intelligence makes them especially good as people managers. 
  5. Type Five – Pioneer: The pioneer is the problem solver, whether of a technical or emotional nature. They’re insightful and curious innovators who thrive on building their knowledge and solving complex puzzles. They’re great at managing relationships in offices. 
  6. Type Six – Devoted: The devoted is a company team player that thrives in secure environments. They are known for being hard-working, trustworthy, pragmatic, and reliable. They’re also great culture builders. 
  7. Type Seven – Cheerleader: The cheerleader is optimistic, bubbly, and extroverted. They’re the office’s heart and excellent at creating practical and fun solutions to complex problems. 
  8. Type Eight – Master: The master is confident, ambitious, and decisive. They’re always ready to challenge their limits, and their goal-oriented nature means they’re in it to win it. 
  9. Type Nine – Agreeable: The Agreeable is easygoing, stable, and calming. They’re known for creating relaxed and supportive environments. They’re also great and nurturing the people who work under them. 

If you already know the type of manager you want or the type your team needs, the Enneagram Personality test is a simple but effective way to hone in on the candidates that fit the bill. 

3. DISC Personality test

The DISC Personality test is a well-established behavior model with decades of research behind it. Today, schools, corporations, and government bodies use it to learn more about their team leaders. 

Psychologist William Marston developed the DISC model to see how people express their emotions, focusing on how people handle high-stress or emotionally charged situations. The model is a great way to see how managers handle their subordinates when things get tough in a business setting.  

The DISC model divided participants based on these four traits: 

  • Dominance: People with the D trait are determined, bold, and confident. They are steadfast in achieving their goals and delivering the best work possible. 
  • Influence: People with the I trait value relationships, connection, and harmony in the workplace. They influence and persuade others instead of using force or threats and are good at defusing heated situations. 
  • Steadiness: People with the S trait are dependable, calm, and relaxed. They value cooperation and harmony in the workplace and achieve their goals through honesty. They’re also very trustworthy. 
  • Conscientiousness: People with the C trait are goal oriented. However, unlike D, they are focused more on accuracy than completion. They also place high-value competency in themselves and others. 

Most of us are complex humans and fall into two of these categories. By examining how these opposing traits play out, you can see exactly how the candidate will treat the people around them and manage emotional situations. 

4. 16 Types test

Use this test to establish how candidates absorb information and make decisions. 

Based on Carl Jung’s discoveries on human judgment and perception, the 16 Types test examines how we view the world and how this influences our decisions. 

This significantly impacts how people managers perceive those working with them and how they handle everyday issues like stress, criticism, and conflict. 

The 16 types test analyzes personalities on a spectrum:

  • Introversion (I) versus extroversion (E)
  • Intuition (N) versus sensing (S)
  • Feeling (F) versus thinking (T)
  • Judging (J) versus perceiving (P)

Where you fall on the spectrum in each category determines your personality type. 

The analysts are:

  • INTJ: Creative, thoughtful, and quiet. They are always prepared.
  • INTP: Smart, innovative, and interested. They need to know everything.
  • ENTJ: Brave, driven, and in charge. They always achieve what they set out to do.
  • ENTP: Curious, funny, and charming. They love a good argument or challenge that makes them think.

The diplomats are:

  • INFJ: Quiet, positive, and caring. They want to inspire other people.
  • INFP: Kind, imaginative, and passionate. They want to be helpful.
  • ENFJ: Confident and able to speak well. They want to be leaders who inspire others.
  • ENFP: Friendly, caring, and full of energy. They always have a positive attitude, even when things are difficult.

The sentinels are:

  • ISTJ: Practical, true, and honest. You can count on them.
  • ISFJ: Protectors who are kind and devoted. They care a lot about what is fair.
  • ESTJ: Calm, organized, and helpful. They take good care of things and people.
  • ESFJ: Charming, friendly, and interested. They love to help other people.

The explorers are:

  • ISTP: Experimental, risky, and helpful. They pick up things easily.
  • ISFP: They are creative, adaptable, and helpful. They’re always ready for something new.
  • ESTP: Smart, wise, and able to see things clearly. They seek new experiences.
  • ESFP: Friendly, enthusiastic, and full of energy. They make the job more interesting.

The assessment does an in-depth overview of the types, including a career and relationships analysis. With this, you can narrow down the candidates that best suit your company’s idea of a people manager. 

Let’s help you find the right people manager

A great people manager is an integral part of a successful business. Unfortunately, for many recruiters, wading through dozens of applications isn’t the best way to see who’s fit for the job.

Use this guide to determine the type of candidate your company wants. Use TestGorilla’s huge range of candidate screening tests to find the people manager who brings out the best in your employees and your company. Once you’ve found the personality and leader type you need, you can confidently interview them. 

Sign up for your free plan with us, and get full access to 10 of our most popular tests – including all of the personality tests mentioned above.

Hire the best candidates
with TestGorilla.

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

Try for free

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Try for free

Free resources