A great manager needs to have an extensive set of skills – from planning and delegation to communication and motivation. Many good managers have enough of these skills to do a reasonable job. But few managers master all the skills needed to be effective in every situation your company will encounter. With the help of Mindtools and some other links below, we’ve put together a list of seven essential management skills for every truly effective manager.
1. Understanding team dynamics and encouraging good relationships
How does the collective mind of a team accomplish a common goal? It isn’t automatic. The best team is not necessarily a bunch of best pals, although that would be nice. The manager selects those with a balance of different skills, personalities, and viewpoints. It takes time for members to investigate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and to learn how to make the best use of each one’s perspective. An effective manager will help the team through this process.
2. Selecting and developing the right people
This skill involves recruiting the right new people, as well as developing the ones you’ve already got. As the business world changes, many of your workers will be required to take on new roles. Choosing the right individuals for this is essential. It can’t just be given to the one with the next highest seniority. An effective manager recognises who has the potential to grow.
3. Delegating effectively
Right people, right skills—what more could be needed? Getting the job done efficiently requires delegation. Even if you have come up through the ranks and have all the right technical skills yourself, if you are an effective manager, you know that you can’t always do the work yourself. That’s why you’re the manager, after all. Peter Economy, author of Managing for Dummies, says, “When you delegate work to employees, you multiply the amount of work you can accomplish while you develop your employees' confidence, leadership and work skills.”
4. Motivating people
Motivation is a very personal driving force. To impart that to someone else, you need to understand what makes that individual tick. When you have identified their spark, you can expect great things. Of course, people change from day to day, and from year to year. Know what is important to your team members and what’s happening with them. Then adjust your technique for motivating them. According to Career Builder, “The best managers have a keen eye for areas that could be improved and know how to approach these issues diplomatically so workers feel encouraged to make productive changes, rather than discouraged by their shortcomings.”
5. Managing discipline and dealing with conflict
Poor performance, even from just one member, will jeopardise the success of anything the team attempts. Don’t avoid the need to discipline. That doesn’t have to mean punitive measures, but it does mean taking steps to correct the problem. First, you’ll need to identify the cause. Is it a bad attitude? Lack of needed skills? Poor communication? Or even a structural issue as to how the team itself is built? Don’t leave it unresolved—it will impact other team members, and almost always affect your customers.
It’s hard to think of a non-communicative soul as an asset to any company at any level (except maybe lighthouse keeper?). But a manager’s primary role is to keep the wheels moving, and communication is the oil that will do that. Keeping the team informed will keep them motivated, and very likely, happy. Don’t fall into the trap of just catching and fixing issues. Good communication involves giving feedback, including genuine commendation even for small tasks done well. And, as mentioned by The Balance, the ability to receive feedback without becoming defensive is essential.
7. Planning, making decisions, and problem solving
Necessary, yes. But let’s assume that you’ve been promoted to management because you know how to do the job, and you have the analytical abilities to solve problems and plan well. Don’t be hoodwinked into thinking that’s enough. By now you’ve realised that the first six management skills are all people-based. They are the skills that will make you most effective.
Many great managers don’t do much of the actual work. Instead, they are managing relationships in the team. Those skills, along with patience and good judgement, will make you a very effective manager.