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Not all managers succeed at management. Harvard Business Review notes that the job of a manager is to take an individual’s talent and turn it into performance.
While this is a pretty simple way to look at it, it’s true. The best managers are the ones that can turn your potential into actuality. To do this, they need to leverage some special skills of their own.
Are you ready to see the essential management skills that top managers leverage to leave their mark on the workplace?
Communication means more than just speaking or writing a killer memo. The art of communication also encompasses listening, reading, and understanding what’s being said, and it is one of the most essential management skills. The Houston Chronicle states that proper communication between workers and employees is essential for a well-functioning workplace.
Some people think being an excellent communicator is a skill you’re either born with or not. But here’s the rub: Improving your communication skills usually comes from developing the different parts of that skill.
You should improve your listening skills by paying attention to what employees are saying. Employees who feel like management listens to them become more engaged with their job.
When speaking, you should organize your thoughts. Carry around a scratch-pad or mini-notebook to help you logically outline your thought process. Be aware of who you’re communicating with. Some employees prefer certain types of communication methods to others. Making them comfortable is a huge step towards being a better communicator.
Finally, learn about non-verbal cues in communication. Practice matching your verbal and nonverbal cues, so you don’t send mixed messages. Communication doesn’t have to be challenging. All you need to remember is that you’re speaking to another individual.
Managers need to be decisive. In some companies, the delay of a few minutes could cost the business a lot. Some managers “fake it till they make it,” but this doesn’t help you gain your team’s respect. Good decision-making is an essential management skill for a company to thrive.
There are ways to become more decisive as a manager, however.
Always make decisions. Second-guessing yourself is part of the human condition. Science Daily mentions a study from Florida State University that shows us that second-guessing ourselves is a surefire way to remain unhappy.
If you want to be more decisive, you need to make decisions. Whether those decisions lead to positive outcomes or not shouldn’t matter at that point. The decisiveness comes from taking action.
Action always beats planning into oblivion. Take action, even if you don’t have the perfect solution. In most cases, that ideal solution doesn’t exist.
Lastly, to improve your decision making, you need to focus on the direction that a decision takes you, not the end goal. Foresight is a characteristic of a great leader, but when you make a decision, you should be looking at what’s in front of you, not what you might be facing next week.
No manager can run an entire department by himself or herself. Delegation is a necessary skill for ensuring that the department gets its work done.
Most managers have a secret, though: They don’t know how to delegate appropriately.
See, delegation isn’t just about assigning someone a task. It’s about knowing what an employee is best at doing and giving them a job that aligns with their abilities. Luckily, there are ways that you can improve your delegation skills as a manager.
Know your staff and what they’re capable of. For managers that have been in charge of a department for a while, this is easy. Learning the skills of a new department may be harder, but it’s a necessary bridge to cross. Knowing what your staff can do will inform you of what tasks suit them best.
You should explain why you’re delegating that task to the employee. However, telling someone that you trust them without giving them all the details of a job qualifies as sending mixed signals. Show them that you trust them to do what’s right by sharing all the information with them.
The department should never throw an employee into the deep end when it comes to a new task. Always provide adequate training and resources to get the job done.
Most importantly, provide feedback to the employee. This feedback could be either constructive criticism or praise, but let them know that you’re doing this to help them learn from the task. The next time around, the process of delegating might be a lot easier for you.
4. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is how well a manager connects to his or her employee base and is an often overlooked management skill. Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as the ability to spot and manage your own emotions while still understanding others’ feelings.
Here’s a strange fact:
In the past, the ability to empathize with one’s staff wasn’t seen as a prerequisite to being a good manager. Society has since realized that an employee’s mental well-being is as important as his or her physical well-being.
Managers who display emotional intelligence have high levels of self-awareness. This trait helps them to understand how their emotions impact those around them. They also show self-regulation. The human mind can handle several emotions at once, but separating one from another is a skill not many have. This trait makes a manager able to handle challenging situations confidently.
All of these traits stem from empathy, and that’s a skill that you can practice. Listening and talking with your staff can help you to develop deep compassion for their individual conditions.
A business is never about a single individual but a group working together as a team. Managers need to head up this team but also understand how teamwork benefits employees’ individual skills.
A little-understood fact is that successful teamwork begins with the individual. Gallup mentions a direct correlation between employee engagement and positive outcomes for a business, including higher productivity and lower turnover.
For managers focused on building teamwork, they need to understand their team’s strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, they should approach the job as a leader, not a boss. Employees respect managers that work alongside them instead of directing them in a hands-off manner.
Managers have a responsibility to their teams to let them know what the expected outcome of a job is and how to best approach it. The team environment that facilitates the group’s success starts with the manager.
People put a lot of stock into trusting another person. Employees always prefer management that’s transparent and accountable because it gives them faith in the business’s management structure. Transparency creates a different level of connection between employees and managers.
Sadly, a grim reality exists: Not many managers see transparency as a vital trait in management.
Fast Company notes that many managers avoid being transparent because they think it impacts their authority. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Managers who see transparency as a necessary trait can seek to improve how they interact with their staff. Communication is an essential element in ensuring transparency within the workplace. Managers must communicate the department’s goals and vision so that all employees are on the same page.
Feedback should be welcome. Employees who believe that their contribution matters to shaping the company will be more likely to share. These contributions may contain suggestions that could help the business achieve its goals much faster.
Finally, managers who want to ensure that transparency is a crucial part of their department should institute an accountability system. Accountability goes hand in hand with transparency, and by making members of the department accountable to each other, you foster a spirit of camaraderie that’s hard to break.
Mentoring is a management skill with high potential. People never forget their most impactful mentors. New employees or interns will see managers as the kind of person they want to be like. Mentoring is more than just teaching someone the ropes and hoping that they understand what you expect of them.
There’s a critical element to mentoring that most managers miss: Mentoring grows the mentee’s skills and personality.
There are a few things that managers can tap into to improve the quality of their mentoring. Mentorship depends on developing an authentic connection between the manager and the employee. That human connection goes a long way towards helping the employee relax, which, in turn, impacts their learning and performance.
Setting goals and boundaries that are achievable is also an excellent way to build mentorship. By taking the process of teaching in stages, a mentor can guide the employee and correct their actions as they go along. Small corrections are more comfortable to implement than trying to divert the mentee’s entire course over a large project.
Mentorship is based on trust. Managers that want to improve their mentorship skills need to earn the trust of their employees. Building trust will build your mentorship skills as well. No matter how far up the hierarchy an employee gets, they never forget their first mentor.
8. Presentation Skills
Most of us know that, as managers, a lot of our job centers on presentations. Whether it’s telling the higher-ups about the department’s finances or in-office meetings where we try to explain the latest developments in the field, we’re surrounded by presentations.
While many managers think that being skilled at presentation means learning how to use PowerPoint, they miss a crucial distinction: Presentations are only partially about the data.
Excellent presentations should engage the audience and prompt discussion. Improving your presentation skills starts with knowing your audience. Your presentation should connect with your core audience and teach them something new.
No one likes an unprepared presenter, so having a plan and following it to completion is essential. When speaking, you should always try to make eye-contact with members of the audience. A sense of humor won’t go amiss and might encourage some members of the audience to lighten up. These steps can help you develop a presentation that viewers will remember and, more importantly, engage with.
For a manager, a presentation shouldn’t be a dry delivery of data but a method of engaging with staff and developing discussion about a work-related topic.