15 Essential Skills for Successful Managers
Essential Skills for Successful Managers
Coaches and Develops People
Coaching to develop employees and teams is an absolute must for managers. When people grow at work they’re more engaged and perform better. A good coach will deliver feedback early and often. The feedback should be both positive and constructive as it’s important to show both sides of the coin.
To be a good coach there are key behaviors to model. Coaches should be present, caring, inspiring, and rigourous.
You also have to have an understanding of the motivations and drivers for each member of your team. If you have an employee who is motivated by recognition it’s going to be far less effective to offer them a bonus for a job well done, not to mention more expensive.
Understanding Employee Motivations using the High / Low Matrix
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them”. – Tim Gallwey
Managers who are good coaches invariably lead teams who are more driven to succeed and engaged in the success of their organization. These teams are always growing and developing their skills and value the achievements they reach.
Demonstrates Good Leadership Skills
There is often talk about leadership versus management. There are distinct differences but there are also some overlaps. To be an excellent manager you must lead your team. This means inspiring and motivating them to crush those performance targets or to rally around that key initiative. You need to model the behaviors you or your organisation values for your people to reach new heights.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” ― Peter F. Drucker
Leadership is also about being strategic. It’s not enough to be a task master. You have to have a vision for your team that drives towards the goals of the organization. Having a strategy for how you’ll get there makes it easier to make decisions as you and your team always have a reference point for how each action will further your strategic goals.
Recognizes and Rewards Success
Even the most reserved employees want to know when they’ve done a great job. A strong manager will be a cheerleader for their team and go above and beyond to recognize these milestones. With so much stress in our daily work lives it’s more important than ever to stop and celebrate the wins along the way. It feels good and shows your team you care about their success.
Communicates Clearly and Openly
More often than anytime in history managers are leading teams that they rarely see face to face. This makes strong communication skills that much more important. It’s no different, however, if your team sits right across from you. Being available and engagable are key success factors for managers.
You must also master each method of communication. It’s not enough to be great at only one type. Managers need to be able to interact both formally and interpersonally and to communicate in all the various mediums we use (email, chat, phone, video, and in person of course).
In addition a key talent strong managers possess is the ability to spin a narrative. This doesn’t mean telling stories exactly, though sometimes that helps. It means being able to communicate in a way that puts things in context and explains the background. If you’re not telling the story you can count on someone creating it for you.
Even people managers these days are running projects. Whether small team initiatives or larger efforts, managers need to be able to plan and manage projects. It takes organizing resources, planning and scheduling tasks, and ultimately driving delivery.
While not all that different from managing the work load of a team you will need to employ different tools. Here’s a few examples to get you started:
Simple Project Planning for Non Project Managers
Management Advice for Managing Projects – from The Chartered Management Institute
You place a lot of emphasis on the growth and development of the people on your team. It’s important to place that same level of importance on your own development. Seeking out new challenges is one of the most essential skills for successful managers. Find new learning opportunities. With the demands on your time as a manager it can certainly be tough. You’ll find that by scheduling your own development time, just like you schedule one on one development with your team it will be easier to make it a priority. Schedule a meeting with yourself once a week or at least once a month to make sure you’re continually learning and growing as a manager and a person.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We spend a majority of our waking hours at work. Why not make it enjoyable? Managers who make the workplace a fun environment have teams who enjoy their work and are more engaged in their own success.
You’ve probably heard that ‘my manager’ is the largest driving factor of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Be a reason your employees love their work.
Hires the Right People
Hiring the wrong people is a common mistake managers can make. It’s tempting to hire people that are like you or the rest of the members of your team. It’s important, however, to have complimentary skill sets in your department. A team that is too homogeneous may have some fun happy hours but they could struggle to get the job done. As an example if you have a group of visionaries and big picture thinkers but no one who is the task master you’ll have a difficult time executing on those grand ideas.
Another common concern, especially among newer managers, is hiring people with too much experience or that are perhaps smarter than the manager. You mustn’t feel threatened by talent. You should put together the strongest team you can and be confident enough in your own abilities to not feel threatened by the wealth of experiences your team will bring to the table. Remember the better your team is, the better they’ll perform, and the better you’ll do.
People of different backgrounds, interests, and personality types all coming together in an office can be a hotbed for disagreements and conflict. You must come at these problems head on and squash conflict quickly. Ignoring seeds of negativity in your team will only allow them to fester. That means you’ll be dealing with much bigger problems down the road. To be a good manager you must be able to confront issues quickly and fairly.
How to Resolve Conflict at Work – A pretty thorough cheat sheet put together by the folks at For Dummies.
Getting to Yes – An excellent book based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Research that everyone should read at least once. Its an excellent resource for conflict resolution and negotiations as well.
Displays Emotional Intelligence
Managers who possess emotional intelligence or EQ are self aware. They manage their emotions, particularly under stress or pressure. In addition when you are emotionally intelligent you are cognizant of the emotions and feelings of others. This is an important skill for managers because leading a team of individuals takes a certain finesse. This finesse comes from the ability to understand where other people are coming from, empathize with their thoughts and feelings, and ultimately tailor your approach to each member of the team. It is one of the most essential skills for successful managers that will benefit your team and your career.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Strong managers excel at organizing tasks and resources. The role demands it and being able to successfully keep all the balls in the air is key to delivering on performance targets. To stay organized adopt a system and sick to it. There are many approaches to organized your work life. Just pick one that works for you. Consistency is the real key to staying organized and is among the essential skills for successful managers.
Getting Organized Starts with Your Inbox
Have you ever been given a deliverable or project by your boss only to have them scrutinize each step you took along the way? If so, you know what it’s like to be micro managed. Empowering your employees is the opposite of this approach. It means you outline the goal and deliverable and then step back while they execute. You give them the empowerment to get the job done.
You can also empower your people to make decisions. Have you ever been on the phone with your electric, cell phone, or credit card company asking for a resolution to an issue that is perfectly reasonable? You are likely to hear on the other end of the line ‘please hold while I get my manager’. That employee probably doesn’t feel empowered to make the decision and perhaps they’re not. It’s almost guaranteed that their manager is very busy taking a lot of phone calls rather than focusing on managing their department. Don’t be that manager. Empower your people to make reasonable decisions about their work. Give them guidelines to stay within and if they have doubts they can still ask for your assistance. Doing so will make each and every member of your team start approaching their work as business owners.
Possesses Business Acumen
As managers you are small business owners. You have budgets, staff, resources, and key performance indicators. Just like if you owned the company, it’s important that you have a strong grasp of the financial side of your business.
In addition, leveraging key performance indicators to measure and drive performance provides oversight and clarity for you and those you manage. Be the expert on the numbers of your business.
Sets High Expectations and Expects Results
Setting the bar low may guarantee success but will you really have accomplished anything? A good manager isn’t afraid to set high expectations that demand excellence of themselves and their people. This doesn’t mean you should set targets so high they’re not attainable. Without high expectations you won’t really see what is possible. Expect more of your people and they will deliver more. Expect less and well that’s what you’ll get.
“High expectations are the key to everything.” – Sam Walton
Analyzes Business Performance
We already talked about the need for strong business acumen. Closely linked is an ability to critically and analytically evaluate your business and team. You should be able to see the relationship between metrics in order to best optimize your business and team’s performance. This is another one of the essential skills for successful managers.
Likewise, a manager should be able to identify the root causes of problems rather than focusing on the immediate fire. Without identifying the underlying causes of issues you’ll live your life wearing a fire fighters hat.
Using Process Improvement Tools to Improve Your Business
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