Take a second and think about the best manager you’ve ever had; one that inspired you to push through adversity, helped you develop your skill set, and genuinely impacted your life — both inside and outside of the office.
Once you’ve experienced the benefits of a great manager, you know that being a manager is about more than advancing your own career — it’s a great opportunity (and a great responsibility) to empower your team to succeed and take on challenges.
Being an effective manager requires a unique skill set, and each of these skills can be learned and developed. Whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned pro, there’s always room to continue strengthening the abilities that will help you effectively lead a team.
Here are the 8 skills that are key to being a successful manager:
- Communicate Clearly
- Manage Your Team’s Time
- Facilitate Teamwork & Collaboration
- Delegate Tasks to Promote Development
- Solve Problems With Your Team
- Set Team Goals & Analyze Results
- Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
- Be Tactful in Your Transparency
Plus… tips on how to develop these skills!
A Detailed Look Into the 8 Key Management Skills
1. Communicate Clearly
Despite the many miracles of modern science, your team won’t be able to read your mind, no matter how hard they try. Knowing that, it’s up to you to create open lines of communication, for everything from project-specific items to personal well-being and career goals. Not only will this build trust with your employees, it allows them to thrive individually and boost their contributions to collective goals.
Make sure to schedule weekly team meetings and monthly one-on-ones, and regularly ask for feedback on how you’re doing in your role and how you can better support your team. And of course, always listen first. Communication is a two-way street, and when you communicate clearly with your team and show them that you value their input, they’ll do the same with you.
2. Manage Your Team’s Time
Whatever your management style, time management is about more than work-back schedules and checklists. It’s providing adequate time to think through problems and execute solutions, while pushing back against unrealistic expectations from clients or project owners.
Yes, there will always be last-minute requests or urgent projects that don’t come with the luxury of time. In those situations, be sure you’re bringing your team on board right away to figure out how best to parcel up the time that you do have.
3. Facilitate Teamwork and Collaboration
Accepting the fact that you can’t be hands-on with every project can be tough. Sure, you might be able to finish the task faster if you have more experience, but do you really need to be at every brainstorming session? As a manager, it’s your job to take a step back when it comes to completing tasks, and still making yourself available for buy-in and checkpoint meetings to approve project directions and ensure things are rolling out smoothly.
Knowing when you can or should be involved is just as important as knowing when you can’t or shouldn’t be involved — and making this distinction will help you avoid micromanaging. If you want your employees to learn to ride a bike, you have to take off the training wheels.
4. Delegate Tasks to Promote Development
Delegation is about more than dividing the workload — it’s another opportunity for you to continually help your team members learn, develop, and grow. To make teamwork, well, work, you need to be able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. By understanding their abilities and considering their professional development goals, you can delegate tasks and structure team projects in a way that contributes to each employee’s evolution. It’s all about making the most of their individual skills, while also providing the opportunities to continue building on them.
5. Solve Problems With Your Team
Inevitably, you and your team will face challenges and difficulties. Being able to quickly analyze the situation and envision potential steps forward will drive your ability to make effective decisions. It’s important to adopt a forward-thinking mindset so you can begin to spot issues before they arise.
Solving problems independently can be necessary in a crisis, but it’s also essential to involve your team in the day-to-day process. Not only is it an opportunity for your team to talk openly about tough situations, but coaching them through different approaches to overcoming adversity will enable them to take the lead on future problems.
6. Set Team Goals and Analyze Results
As a manager, you’re sandwiched between your team and your superiors, acting as a go-between. You have to help your team turn the company goals into tasks, and then show your superiors how you team’s tasks led to results. By setting objectives and key results at the start of project planning, it will be easier for you to demonstrate your team’s success down the line.
As important as setting goals, is analyzing them. Measuring goals is of course a good first step, but then you should always consider their meaning. Why did your team succeed (or not)? What worked well that you can try again, and what new ideas do you want to test out next time? Schedule meetings with your team to go over outcomes and pinpoint learnings.
7. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Soft skills are as important as hard skills in management (maybe even more important), and developing your emotional intelligence can help you tremendously in your role.
EQ allows you to connect with your employees, empathize with them, and see where they might be struggling. This kind of perspective gives you a holistic view of your employees not just professionally but personally, and where extra support may be needed. It can help you deal with low performance or increase motivation, and will lead to just as much personal development as it does team development.
When you have a good overview of your people, you can better spot roadblocks before you get to them — and better recover when you hit one by surprise.
8. Be Tactful in Your Transparency
Transparency is key to earning your employees’ trust, and you should never withhold important information from your team — especially if it’s going to have a negative impact. It can be hard when there’s tough news to share, so it’s important to use your EQ and do it with empathy. On the flip side, sometimes it’s hard not to just blurt out when something exciting comes up. Find the right time and the right way, and always be mindful when you’re sharing big news.
Of course, there are also times when you need to protect your team from external pressures so they can stay focused on the work, and times when you’re simply not at liberty to share information, or when it even might be better not to. Being tactfully transparent will help you build a foundation of trust so that your team knows and understands there may be times you can’t bring all the details to the table.
Simple Tips to Help You Develop Your Management Skills
Outline your goals, then decide on one or two to focus on at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and continual development is something you should be working on in yourself as much as in your employees.
Communicate With Your Team
Remember when we said communication is key for successful managers? Walk that talk. Tell your team how you’re trying to improve and ask them for their honest opinion on where you should start. Give them the option for anonymity to show them you’re serious, and follow up with them on your progress and learnings.
Communicate With Your Manager
It’s also crucial to tell your manager about your goals, your progress, and your learnings. Your manager probably has a wealth of wisdom to share, so tap into that and go to them for mentorship. This also ensures they’re aware of how you’re managing your team, and opens up discussions about management techniques.
Develop a Feedback Loop
Getting feedback (and knowing how to take it) is key to development. With both your team and your manager, seek out feedback on what skills you should focus on, how you can work on them, and how you’re progressing. Outside perspective will help you along each stage of your development journey, and this brings in the communication, transparency, and emotional intelligence skills you’ll be working on. Not to mention, this is a great way for you to lead by example.
We all know a fake when we see one, and being honest and authentic is critical to developing genuine relationships and building real trust. Own your mistakes or failures, and openly discuss how you’ve learned from those experiences. Not only does this show your commitment to authenticity, it displays that you hold yourself accountable, and that you expect the same of your team.
You’ve Got This!
Developing your management skills requires an ongoing effort, and that’s ok! As much as management is about empowering your team and leading them to success, 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 their success rely on one another. Treat every day as an opportunity for growth, and commit to strengthening your skill set to become the best manager you can be for your team.
What Management Skill do You Want to Develop?
Tell us which skill you’d like to work on and why in the comments section!