Being a manager in today’s workforce carries a more impactful weight than ever before. If you’re just starting out in the role, you’ve landed in the perfect place to learn what skills it takes to succeed as a modern leader.
The manager’s role requires unique abilities, and good news — each of these skills can be learned and developed. While you probably have a mature technical expertise that has helped you get to this management role, good leadership is more about soft skills and relationships than hard skills and technical aptitudes, because management is all about one thing: people.
8 Essential skills to become a successful manager
- Establish effective communication
- Help your team manage their time
- Facilitate teamwork and collaboration
- Delegate to your team members based on their strengths
- Be in problem-solving mode with your team
- Give constructive feedback — and be able to take it, too
- Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
- Be inclusive and build belonging
Plus…5 Takeaway tips to develop your management skills
The 8 essential skills you need to be a successful manager
1. Establish effective communication
Management is a role centered around people and relationships, therefore levelling up your communication skills should be a constant focus. Communication is essential in everything from project-specific items to personal well-being and career goals. It’s all about transparency and staying consistent, which will help you build and maintain trust with your team.
Communicate by checking in with your employees often to ensure alignment, understanding, and all around clarity of their role, expectations and goals. To do this, take time to familiarize yourself with your company’s mission and vision and how it translates to the work your team is doing — that way, you’ll be able to clearly convey how your team’s day-to-day work affects the company’s bottom line. This will improve your goal setting, both collectively and individually.
Tip: Be mindful of how you express yourself in writing or in person, as well as your non-verbal communication. The way you make people feel when you communicate will affect the way they respond to your leadership.
2. Help your team manage their time
Being involved in your team’s high level time management without succumbing to micromanaging is a key skill of effective management. From a high-level, question their ways of working, the requests they take on, and how they prioritize their tasks, to help them see their blindspots.
If you’re not acquainted with your team’s processes and collaboration tools already, take the time to review them. They might be using a tool that’s not relevant to their type of work, or they may not know how to properly identify priorities based on business goals — that’s where you come in! Couple this with solid communication of company objectives, and you’re on your way to helping your team optimize their time management skills, which will ultimately increase their output.
Take work-life balance into consideration as well, especially in situations where you work remotely, from home, or with flexible hours — it can be hard to know when to switch off.
3. Facilitate teamwork & collaboration
Part of your role as a manager is to help your team foster positive relationships and build a culture of teamwork and collaboration. The better teams collaborate, the better their performance will be, and the more they’ll enjoy their work. Facilitating teamwork means equipping your employees with the collaboration tools to build team dynamics. It means intentionally helping them focus on getting to know one another, their skill sets, career goals, and how they like to work, etc.
4. Delegate to your team members based on their strengths
Becoming a good manager means becoming an orchestrator for your team. You’re there to ensure things get done, not do them yourself. You have a team of intelligent people and your job is to help each of them shine by ensuring they work on tasks that develop their strengths. But…
34% of Officevibe respondents do not agree that their organization makes proper use of their strengths.
Take the time to identify each of your team members’ strengths, passions, and professional development goals. Then, delegate tasks and structure projects in a way that motivates them intrinsically, and contributes to each employee’s desired evolution. When people do what they love, they love what they do, and it shows in their performance.
Tip: To understand your employees strengths, communicate with them often to learn when they feel best at work. Ask questions like “What project did you feel most proud of and why?”
5. Be in problem-solving mode with your team
Problem-solving skills are fundamental in your management skills arsenal, as it’s inevitable that you and your team will face challenges and difficulties. Time spent looking for who’s at fault is time that is not spent on learning or finding solutions.
Management is in part about making calls and being confident in your decision-making skills and problem-solving techniques, but more so about helping your team hone in on these same skills and become more autonomous.
Coaching your team through adversity will enable them to take the lead on future problems and make better decisions by themselves.
Tip: Instead of giving the answer, ask questions that challenge assumptions to help employees find the root of the problem. For example, “Why did you use this method?” or “How did you come to that conclusion?
6. Give constructive feedback — and be able to take it, too
Giving and accepting constructive feedback is amongst the hardest roles a manager has. That being said, it is unquestionably one of the most important skills you’ll need to build. Employees want feedback! The more you openly discuss mistakes or areas of improvement, the more positive your employees’ experience will be. When employees see that they can apply learnings that help them grow in their career, constructive criticism becomes widely appreciated. Giving constructive feedback is about coaching your employees on how to improve, and then agreeing on actionable next steps. It’s all about how you deliver the feedback, as that will dictate how it’s received.
Don’t wait. Give feedback in a timely manner so employees can start improving right away or feel the recognition immediately.
It’s just as important to ask for feedback from your employees. Especially as a first-time manager. Don’t bank on annual reviews to bring up potential issues or to ask about how you’re doing in your role. Just like your employees, you want to improve as well.
7. Develop your emotional intelligence
Human skills are an indispensable element of modern management. Developing your emotional intelligence (EQ) can help you connect with your employees, understand them, and empathize with them. This kind of perspective gives you a well-rounded view of your people professionally and personally, so you know where extra support may be needed. It will help you deal with conflict, low performance, and even increase motivation.
The process of developing your emotional intelligence in part means getting to know yourself better too, promising as much personal development as it does team development. Having the ability to identify your own biases and emotional triggers will help you become a better version of yourself, and therefore a better leader.
Tip: If you want to learn more about how to develop your emotional intelligence we encourage you to sign up to our EQ Course.
8. Be inclusive and build belonging
Having team members from various backgrounds and experiences is beneficial to not only your team, but to the whole company. Diversity brings unique perspectives, which increases the variety and creativity of ideas that surface. Lead by example to develop a culture of inclusion. How? Be yourself and promote vulnerability and authenticity. Likewise, boost your active listening skills. Be curious! Listen intently to employees’ ideas, concerns and pain points. Then, make sure to factor your team members’ opinions and feedback into your decision-making process.
Developing your management skills as well as your management style will come with time and experience. As much as management is about empowering your employees and leading them to become an effective team, you also must take time to grow and develop in your own role. Don’t forget, you’re a part of the team too, and your success and performance are directly linked to theirs. Treat every day as an opportunity for growth, and commit to strengthening your managerial skills to become the best manager you can be for your team.
5 Takeaway tips to develop your management skills
- Always be mindful of how you express yourself in writing or in person, as well as your non-verbal communication.
- Take the time to learn your employees’ strengths, then apply this to how you form a team or delegate tasks.
- Guide your team to come to their own conclusions instead of solving problems for them to make learnings more poignant.
- Give feedback in a timely manner, especially constructive feedback, so employees can start improving right away.
- Work to develop your emotional intelligence and human skills because relationships are at the base of your role.