Good managers are quite rare, and becoming a good manager can enhance your career prospects significantly. Whether you have recently completed your time in education or have been working for a number of years, there comes a time for most, when you hope to progress into a management position.
If you are driven to apply for a management position because of better pay or the increased responsibility, there are some key skills you'll need to pass the interview and be successful in your role.
We've gathered the 8 Skills that you need to be a good manager below:
1) Interpersonal Skills
Building successful relationships with your colleagues, both seniors and direct reports, are critical to your success in a management job. If your objective is to lead a team of people and report your views into the directors and owners of the business you work within, you'll need to earn the respect of both those above and below you in the management hierarchy.
One of the easiest ways to earn the respect of your colleagues is by committing time in your diary to get to know your team on both a personal and professional level. Finding out:
- what their hobbies are
- sports and team that they follow
- what family and friends they have
- what their career goals are
- their strengths and weaknesses
These are great ways of learning about your team and earning their respect. Once you have their respect, it will help you demonstrate your managerial qualities and authority, whilst maintaining the ability to play your part as a member of the team too.
2) Communication Skills
The expression of one's thoughts from one mind to another is the premise of communication. Sounds simple, but ensuring that the communication is an accurate representation of your thoughts is more difficult. To be a good manager, you must master all forms of communication. Whether you are looking to convey a message in writing or verbally, if the communication is important, we recommend:
- Avoiding ambiguity or general statements. Make sure you are describing or instructing the task at hand as clearly and specifically as possible.
- Using numbers and quantifiable examples to convey the importance of your message. Also, make sure that the numbers are relatable to the person, or people receiving the communication.
- Developing organic optimism as a management state of mind. People buy into and understand positive and optimistic messaging more than pessimism and a dismissive attitude.
- Avoiding excessive and unnecessary messages. If the message you are looking to convey is short and simple, do not waste time and words over complicating the message, or discussing things that are not relevant or supportive of the primary message.
Combining all of these communication points should drive you towards communicating professionally and with authority.
3) Motivational Skills
As a team manager, from time to time you may have disruptions or moments of disconnect within the team. These moments can be extremely negative to the output and efficiency of your team's work. Critical to target setting and a unified team is motivation. There are two types of motivation:
- Positive Motivation - which comes from talking about the rewards and opportunities that will come from achieving the goals and performing positively. This form of motivation works best with people who are driven by desire.
- Negative Motivation - which comes from talking about the negative implications of failing to achieve the goals and performing badly. This form of motivation works best with people who are driven by fear and worry.
A good manager will be able to distinguish between those who respond best to positive motivation, and those who respond best to negative motivation.
4) Organisation Skills
The impression that managers are often juggling multiple tasks and 'spinning plates' is not an inaccurate portrayal of reality. Quite often, as a manager you have complex challenges and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled on short deadlines, and all requiring complex and differing effort. A good manager needs to have excellent organisational skills.
Managing your own workload, alongside those of others, while scheduling and running through team appraisals, taking management meetings and reviewing department/company policy successfully require:
- Preparation - make sure that you collect all the information you need to complete a task, before you start it, and that you understand how much time the task will take.
- Practice - make sure that you have honed your skills at completing the task, so that you can do it as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Prioritisation - make sure that you order your workload based on the support you have available, the due date of the task, and the time it will take to complete tasks.
- Problem Finding - make sure that you anticipate any problems that you may face in trying to complete the task.
- Prevention - make sure to mitigate the issues that you discovered while you were problem finding, as this will ensure a smooth task completion.
5) Delegation Skills
The most common perception of what management is, is often delegation. Delegation is the process of handing tasks down to your team members to do, to enable you to complete your workload.
While delegation is important for a manager, a good manager needs to delegate efficiently. First, you need to analyse and identify the skills of your employees. Then, assign duties based on their strengths and the surplus time they have available to absorb the task. The key rules for delegation are:
- The task must be accurately communicated.
- The progress on the task must be measured regularly.
- You must match the employees skill set capabilities to the task.
- The task and employee must be given adequate resource to complete the task.
- The deadline must be reasonable and achievable.
Mastering delegation will not only reduce the stress within your team, but it will bring cohesion and increase efficiency.
6) Problem Solving Skills
When you are in a managerial position you will be faced with challenges and problems every day. Burying your head in the sand and ignoring problems will often only make the problem grow in size and importance. So, as a manager you must learn how to make decisions in the best interests of your team, and solve problems when they arise.
More often than not, you will be required to resolve issues 'on the spot,' and thinking on your feet is something that you get better at doing with time. Here are some tips:
- Prepare - making decisions on the spot suggests that there is no time to prepare. If you can envisage and simulate negative situations before you are faced with them, then you'll be prepared for most eventualities.
- Deep Breath - you've heard the saying 'take a deep breath' and probably dismissed it, but it really works. The cerebral part of your brain works slower than the emotional limbic system. So, taking a deep breath actually helps sense to override emotion in decision-making.
- Be Honest - when someone asks you a question, or puts a problem in front of you, the instinctive reaction is to make up an answer; but often admitting that you don't know how to immediately solve the problem is best for the overall team.
Figuring out how to put your personality to one side to consider the best interests of the team when faced with problems is a key traits of a good manager.
7) Commercial Awareness Skills
Commercial awareness, according to research, is one of the most significant factors in the difference between a good manager and an exceptional manager. It is also, according to recruiters, the one management skill that the majority of recent graduates lack.
Commercial acumen comes from a combination of factors, but a lot like experience, you can't buy it. It comes from exposure to situations and the results of your actions and those of the marketplace in general.
But, while you can not buy commercial awareness, you can enhance your ability to develop it and speed up the process:
- be aware of your organisation's mission and aims.
- have an in depth understanding of the industry that your organisation is in.
- get a handle on the drivers within the job sector of that industry.
- know about the political and economic issues affecting the business.
- identify and study the competitor business structures and performance.
8) Conflict Management Skills
Unfortunately conflict is inevitable, as it's impossible for all of your team to agree with you. And it's even less likely is that they will agree with each other! Conflict management is the process of limiting the negative impact of conflict within your team, whilst increasing the positive opportunities arising from it.
Enhancing learning opportunities and group outcomes are the benefits from a good approach to conflict management. There are some simple steps to assist you in your approach to dealing with conflict:
- Don't ignore it - The key, like with most management issues, is to tackle the problem as early as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder the problem will be to diffuse.
- Mind over Emotion - Emotional responses are unpredictable in delivery, and even more unpredictable in outcomes. Stick to the facts of the situation and remove your opinions from the discussion.
- Authority - While it might be a difficult thing to do, it is important that you name the 'right behaviour' and name the 'wrong behaviour' so that your team know what they should and shouldn't be doing.
- Mediate - You have to convince the person who has created the 'wrong behaviour' to correct their approach and actions. If they refuse to, you should mediate in order to bring them in line with the team.
- Give Thanks - People changing their approaches and actions can be a significant development in their character and personality traits, which is a big effort. So make sure you convey your thanks and gratitude as this will help them to sustain their efforts.
You cannot successfully become a good manager without being committed to improving yourself gradually over time, and becoming a great manager is something that can take years to achieve. Yet, having awareness of what it takes to become an exceptional manager is critical to reaching your career goals.