List of Counselling Skills for Managers (+5 Must Haves)

This blog will talk about counselling skills for managers. It will introduce readers to the essential skills involved in counselling and explain why these are relevant in management. Then, we will explore in detail some of the counselling skills every manager should have.

What are Essential Counselling Skills for Managers?

Some of the essential counselling skills required in management are as follows:

  • Active Listening
  • Building Rapport
  • Questioning Skills
  • Reflection Skills
  • Personality Assessments

Why do Managers Need Counselling Skills?

Management is a profession that requires a broad set of skills as it involves decision making, problem solving, strategising, and dealing with people. One category of skills included in this is that of counselling skills.

As managing people is a big part of this job, it’s imperative for any manager to have essential counselling skills. That’s because on many occasions, they may find themselves in situations where they have to resolve conflicts, boost morale, or tackle obstacles that might be interfering with their employees’ performance.

By using counselling skills, a manager can overcome all such issues more effectively. These skills allow them to truly understand the employees’ point of view and find efficient solutions.

Basic Counselling Skills for Anyone to be a Better Manager

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at what these counselling skills are and how they help one become a better manager.

Active Listening

One of the most basic counselling skills is the ability to listen actively. This basically means that you listen to someone with attunement, without interrupting them or getting distracted, and responding in ways that elicit more information from the speaker.

This technique also needs one to listen and observe carefully in order to pick up both verbal and non-verbal cues. Through active listening, you ensure that your understanding of the speaker is accurate and free of any assumptions or confusion.

Some of the methods used in active listening are summarising, paraphrasing, leaning in, asking follow up questions, and appropriate silences.

Building Rapport

Managers can only handle people effectively if they can establish good rapport. A manager who is disliked by the employees may be good at ordering them around, but they won’t be able to improve their employees’ performance and job satisfaction.

Hence, it’s very important for managers to be liked and respected. One successful way of achieving that is to treat people with dignity and mutual respect. Moreover, they have to show a genuine interest in the wellbeing of their subordinates.

Building rapport is one of the core skills involved in counselling. If the person does not feel like you care about them, they’ll have a tough time opening up to you. Consequently, you won’t be able to handle the situation in an optimal way.

Questioning Skills

Under the heading of active listening, we mentioned asking questions as one of the methods to elicit more information. However, questioning is a huge part of the counselling process. Not only must a manager ask the right questions, but also time them in a way that allows the development of insight.

There are many different types of questions used in counselling. Some of these are described below.

Follow-Up Questions

These are asked when you want to get more information about the situation the speaker was talking about. Follow-up questions are more focussed on facts and events that have occurred. A few examples of follow-up questions are:

  • What happened after that?
  • What did you do next?
  • Did the thing you were worried about happen?

Open-Ended Questions

Counsellors use open-ended questions to avoid making any assumptions and to focus on the speaker’s unique experience. An open-ended question is one that requires one to answer with at least a few sentences instead of just a yes or no. These generally ask about thoughts and feelings. Here are some examples:

  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • What was going on in your mind in that situation?
  • What do you feel like doing next?

Clarification Questions

These are asked after summarising or paraphrasing to confirm whether your understanding of the speaker’s words is accurate. Such questions are very important as they allow room for error and reflect a genuine interest in what the speaker is saying. Some examples of clarification questions are:

  • Am I getting this right?
  • Did I understand correctly?
  • Is this what you are trying to say?

Reflection Skills

The counselling process is incomplete without reflection. People misconstrue the concept of counselling when they equate it to advice giving. A good counsellor rarely gives advice because that increases dependency. 

As a manager, you not only want to help your employees out with their issues, you also want to empower them to learn from their experiences. Reflection is the best way to achieve that. So, after a discussion with your subordinate about the problem, you need to know how to get them to think about it more rationally and with a growth-oriented mindset.

It’s crucial to get rid of any kind of judgement or harsh words for learning to occur. This doesn’t mean you can’t be firm. Nevertheless, people only learn and grow when they feel safe. Keeping that in mind, this counselling skill lets you and the employee reflect on lessons rather than mistakes.

Personality Assessments

Finally, any good manager should educate themselves about personality theories in psychology and update their knowledge with the latest evidence-based personality assessment tools. 

These tools give you better insights into the strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and conflict-approach of the people you have to manage. Having such data can go a long way in optimising your team’s performance and outcomes.

Some of the popular personality theories and assessment tools used in workspaces include the Big Five model, DISC, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the Enneagram model.


This blog talked about counselling skills for managers. It introduced readers to the essential skills involved in counselling and explained why these are relevant in management. Then, we explored in detail some of the counselling skills every manager should have.

Counselling skills for managers included here were Active Listening, Building Rapport, Questioning Skills, Reflection Skills, and Personality Assessments.

FAQs (Counselling Skills for Managers)

What are Counselling skills and techniques?

Counselling skills and techniques are specific ways to counsel someone so that they feel comfortable to open up, do not feel judged, and can arrive at solutions to their problems. They include things like:

  • Listening
  • Attending
  • Building rapport
  • Silence
  • Questioning
  • Paraphrasing and summarising
  • Reflecting

What are the 6 methods of counselling?

There are various methods of counselling but the core groups of approaches include the following schools of psychology:

  • Humanistic psychology
  • Existential psychology
  • Behavioural psychology
  • Psychoanalytic approach
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Gestalt psychology

What is counselling in management?

Since management requires one to utilise their people skills, counselling is an important part of this job. Counselling is a method of helping people by listening to them and directing the conversation in a solution-focussed way. It is essential for a manager to be able to understand the employee’s problem and to help them overcome it in a wholesome way.


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!