Why is self-management important in the workplace? | Mo (2023)

People with strong self-management skills tend to have more success at work.

Self-management skills help workers stay productive and autonomous, reducing workplace friction and the need for micromanagement.

With the rise of the modern hybrid working landscape, improving employees’ self-management skills can be vital for business success.

Anyone can improve their self-management skills, and team leaders need to know how to encourage the development of these skills within their team. In this article, we’ll look at how you can do this.

What is self-management?

Self-management is our ability to regulate emotions and control actions and behaviours. It’s why we don’t miss work deadlines or overreact to workplace conflicts.

With remote work and hybrid working, self-management in business has become more important than ever. Having great self-management skills means not getting distracted by things at home and maintaining focus to get the job done. It also means a person or team remains accountable and can do what is needed to fulfil that responsibility.

Why is self-management important in the workplace?

Employees with good self-management skills put less pressure on managers and leaders. Individuals with good self-management skills are also reliable. When given a deadline for a task, they will meet it. Without these skills, workers can be unpredictable.

It goes without saying that having employees who can organise work and manage thoughts and emotions is good for business.

When you look at two organisations with different levels of self-management, there’s a clear difference between output and happiness. You have a productive team in an environment where most people are organised, disciplined, and strategic. When the opposite is true, employees become demotivated, and work tends to be of lower quality.

Examples of self-management skills

But what does self-management look like?

It’s no use telling people they need good self-management skills if we don’t know what that means or how to achieve it.

Here are some management skills examples that are useful for business:


Being on time is essential to being able to get a job done.

Everyone who has been to school knows that being on time is essential, but some people find it much harder than others.

As a team leader, there are two approaches you can take:

  • the punitive approach – negative reinforcement for being late, such as docking pay
  • the positive approach – provide incentives to those who do arrive early or on time

Stress regulation

Being self-aware is the first step in stress regulation. It means workers can take action before their stress levels become unbearable.

Team leaders can coach their teams to recognise stress and provide strategies for dealing with it appropriately. Encourage your team to speak up when their workload is too much, and help them prioritise it with tools such as Trello or Asana, but sometimes a simple to-do list is efficient!

Introduce stress education to help your employees better understand the difference between good and bad stress, and provide tips on coping. Everyone can shift the bad to good by seeing the benefits of a potential situation and leveraging strengths to deal with it. Showing your staff you care by supporting their wellbeing will help to improve morale and increase productivity.


Every team leader loves to have reliable colleagues. By fostering a positive working environment that builds trust and respect, you’re more likely to find reliable workers. Here are a few methods you can use to determine how reliable a candidate is at the recruiting stage:

Use cues from the interview:

Did they arrive early? Early arrival shows excitement and eagerness that will likely translate into a hard-working and dedicated employee.

Did they research the company? This is a strong indication of a highly-motivated employee, which will strongly impact their reliability.

Did they ask questions? That type of enthusiasm and curiosity will bode well for the future.

Ask specific questions and pay attention to how they answer:

Inquire about why they want to work for your company. If the answer is to pay bills and fill out their resume, then they might not be the one to get the job done. Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are what you’re looking for here.

You can also ask about their long-term goals. If they see your company as a placeholder while looking for something better, then you may not be able to trust them to churn out high-quality work.

Inquire about their needs and the ideal work environment for them and ensure it matches what you offer. Also, ask about their previous work experience to get a better understanding of how they dealt with high-pressure situations or conflicts between co-workers.

Ask for references

You might already do this in the application process, so why not use them? Contact the previous employers to help know for sure that this person is reliable.


The ability to deal with change and discomfort can be an excellent characteristic, especially in a business where changes are frequent. If you want help finding the most adaptable candidates at the interview stage, here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Are you someone who can adapt to different work environments? If the role requires travel, then the ability to adapt is essential.
  • Tell me about a time you had to learn a new task at work. What did you do to speed up the learning process? This question gives more insight into their learning capabilities and whether they can catch onto things quickly.
  • What are some challenges you experience when starting a new job? Ask this question to learn more about the candidate’s mindset when they start something new. Can they welcome new challenges and find ways to overcome them quickly?
  • How do you stay motivated when taking on a new project? This usually requires a lot of effort and motivation, so this will help get an idea of what strategies the candidate uses to be more productive.
  • Tell me about a time someone asked you to do something outside of your job description. This question can help determine whether the candidate will be helpful during times of change. Every so often, you may need your employees to do something outside of their official job description – could you rely on the candidate to do this?


Being self-aware is a separate skill from self-management.

Someone who is self-aware will know their limits and when to call for help. Being good at self-management doesn’t mean doing things alone. Combining self-management with self-awareness is actually much better for business – it promotes working together.

Arguably the most important thing workers can do is share with colleagues and team leaders how they work best. This way, managers can help their team succeed.

Though many of these self-management skills are characteristics that can be developed and worked on in everyone, it’s worth being mindful of neurodiversity. Estimates suggest that 1 in 7 people in the United Kingdom are neurodivergent, so it’s likely that all workplaces have some neurodivergence on their teams.

In the past, employers might have mistaken this for laziness so it’s important for management to know how to support these individuals. Being aware of neurodiversity is essential for an inclusive workplace.

How can employees practice self-management

Practising self-management is essential for all, no matter who you are in an organisation.

Knowing how to practise self-management means you can also share your knowledge with others in your team. Here are some tips to improve self-management skills:

Practice self-care

Many people now baulk at the term self-care.

It’s often seen as inherently millennial, like avocado toast, selfies, and FOMO.

But consider this – around half of the absences from work are related to stress, anxiety, and depression. In its simplest form, self-care is a considered effort to take better care of yourself. By doing so, employees can reduce workplace stress, anxiety and depression.

A long bubble bath is certainly not an overnight fix, but almost everyone will benefit from drinking more water, eating better, and having a good night’s sleep.

Focus on strengths

As we mentioned above, people have different strengths and limitations, and as long as we’re aware of what they are, we can help ourselves and others practise effective self-management.

Focus on emotional intelligence

Strengthening personal management skills will directly impact business success, but you must prioritise your wellbeing during this time. Consider how this change influences moods and emotions. When focusing on emotional intelligence, you can also collect and analyse important thoughts and discoveries made about yourself.

Take breaks

If you want employees to work on their time management skills, encourage breaks from time to time. Typically, a self-improvement journey isn’t going to happen overnight and is more of a long-term goal.

When your employees are taking time to reflect and look back at how far they’ve come, it can boost their confidence and maintain motivation.

Set goals and plan out a schedule

When you know what you’ve got to do and when you’ve got to do it by, it is so much easier to accomplish.

Create small, actionable goals. This is a simple yet effective way of avoiding overwhelm and stress.

Encourage your employees to set short-term and long-term goals. By setting goals, employees will be challenging themselves with a new project or potentially working their way toward a promotion. Provide them with ways to measure their progress by scheduling check-ins to help them recognise their accomplishments.

Celebrate successes and reward them

Whether you’re incentivising yourself or others, it’s important to recognise success.

Often, it’s easy to forget to reward ourselves, but rewarding yourself makes sense when you succeed in self-management and achieve your goals.

Mo is an employee engagement platform that can help leaders improve collaboration and morale, reduce employee churn and drive change.

Our platform creates a vibrant culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate success, recognise results and appreciate colleagues.

Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work. Book a demo with our team today!

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