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Leading for success: Top 10 skills for managers

June 4, 2024

Good managers need to juggle so many responsibilities and tasks, so much so that it can get overwhelming. Whether you’re looking to hire a new supervisor or working towards developing someone to fit into a management position, making sure your leadership has the right skills is essential for running a successful business.

While every type of manager would need particular skills that go along with their specialty — a sales manager would, for example, need to understand sales a lot more than a CTO — there are certain skills and behaviours every manager should hone. If you’re not sure where to start, here are the top 10 management skills we recommend to consider.

1. Communication

Anyone who’s ever had a manager (or anyone who has ever managed people!) knows how crucial good communication skills are for the overall success of this relationship. Managers have to liaise between multiple departments, stakeholders, and employees, to ensure that work is progressing properly and that everyone is informed. A manager also acts as the front line when it comes to feedback or any grievances and issues employees may have, and therefore must master all kinds of communication, be it verbal or written, and be able to listen intently.

2. Planning and time-management

While it’s important in any role to be able to plan ahead and know how much time and energy to invest in different tasks, this becomes even more vital for those who run teams. Effective managers are able to see a timeline in front of them and help their team to achieve it. This requires keen planning and time-management skills, having a sober approach to the length of duties, and setting doable deadlines.

3. Project management and organisation

Managers have a long list of responsibilities, so they have to be able to prioritise and delegate. A manager who’s not capable of recognising which task must be completed by them and should be transferred to a subordinate with more time or knowledge is going to drown in a long and unachievable to-do list that will never be completed, harming their own reputation as well as the project they’re leading. They also need to be able to oversee the tasks of multiple people to be able to complete a project, without micromanaging.

4. Decision-making

Of course, managers should be able to take into account multiple perspectives and really think through and justify the choices they make. However, they can’t be indecisive: managers usually work to tight timelines that require their attention and to be quick on their feet, making the right decisions quickly. It’s a balancing act that the most powerful managers master — being able to back your decisions but still commit to them rapidly.

5. Problem-solving and conflict resolution

No matter how great a business is, there are always going to be professional challenges and conflicts arising among coworkers. An excellent manager is capable of addressing issues head on, gathering different perspectives, and providing a solution that will make all sides happy. Teams should be confident in their manager’s ability to contend with any difficulty they bring to the table and to provide good advice.

6. Adaptability

It’s always been true that managers need to keep calm and collected even in the face of change and even crisis situations. However, in the 21st century, it’s arguably more important than ever. Rapidly changing working practices and a generally tumultuous time in world politics and the economy mean that managers are faced with many shifts they have to answer intently. It’s vital that you ensure your managers are highly adaptable and ready for anything.

7. Interviewing

Becoming a manager usually involves overseeing a number of individuals. Essentially, a manager would usually need to hire new employees at some point. Ensuring that your manager has basic interviewing skills that will allow them to infer the right information from a hiring process is important, especially when you consider that a wrong hire can cost up to three times the annual salary of the employee.

8. Ownership and accountability

No one wants a manager who shirks responsibility when something goes wrong. Not only does it make things harder for senior management — they can’t trust the issue would be fixed — but it also makes employees feel resentful and like their manager is untrustworthy. Managers have to be able to take ownership of projects, give feedback, and be held accountable to both their and their employees’ actions.

9. Strategic thinking

Employees have the privilege of focusing on their tasks and goals. Managers, on the other hand, have to be able to view the bigger picture, follow different employees’ timelines, and connect things back to the company objectives. In other words, they must be able to strategise, think things through both practically and conceptually, and be able to set a coherent course for their team.

10.  Collaboration

Some make the mistake of viewing management as a solitary job. However, it is crucial for managers to be able to collaborate with others and let go of control when they have to. Without giving employees the feeling that their opinions matter and that their work is valuable, managers are going to create poor and disgruntled teams. This is why it’s key for managers to be skilled collaborators, capable of working together with others.

Not sure how to ensure your managers and candidates have the right skills and competencies? Book a demo with Thrive to learn more about how we can help.

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