Management skills help us get things done through people. Leaders inspire people, managers must see to it that projects are accomplished on time. A good leader is an excellent manager.
This article shows you how to develop 21 management skills.
If you are looking for opportunities to build the skills of your supervisors, go to supervisory training.
What is a skill?
A skill is a learned ability to perform an action with determined results with good execution often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. [mfn] Wikipedia [/mfn]
Excellent managers possess skills that ensure people get things done. The concern of individual managers is not only their personal day-to-day work but more importantly the performance of their teams and departments.
What are management skills?
Managerial skills are learned abilities managers use to ensure that the leaders and teams become more productive and achieve their goals. The most crucial skills for supervisors are those that allow them to achieve their business goals efficiently and effectively.
Examples of Management Skills
Two examples of management skills are effective communication and decision-making.
Both are also considered meta-skills for these are skills that every leader must possess.
There are many sets of skills in communication. Some jobs may only require employees to be able to express themselves. Others demand that they know how to communicate via email and are proficient in online meetings.
Effective managers use a wider set of communication skills. Managers lead meetings, give feedback to employees, sell ideas, resolve conflict, delegate tasks, make presentations, and coach employees. All these demand excellent communication skills.
A marketing manager and a training manager may require different sets of communication skills.
For this reason, it is important for organizations to map out the competencies of managers based on their functions in the organization.
Also, by understanding the different skill sets of managers, an organization can customize training programs. Learn more about the essential skills for supervisors.
Develop Managerial Skills
As I have mentioned above, you can learn management skills in two ways: through experience and deliberate training.
Learning through experience requires that you are aware of the essential skills. You intentionally practice your target skills and regularly evaluate your performance. You are experimenting, experiencing, and evaluating.
If you do not experiment and evaluate, you are less likely to learn from your experiences.
Learning through deliberate training requires that you look into the skills necessary to be successful in the supervisory job.
You will take account of all your assets, of skills that you can convert when you become a supervisor.
By deliberate training, you will consider a few vital behaviors that demonstrate skills. You do not need to go to a multiple-day training and pray that you’ll remember everything.
The best way to learn is by doing.
You can enroll in an online course and study at your own pace. You can get a coach or a mentor who can guide you. You can buy a book or join a webinar. Focus on one area of training. This is what I mean by deliberate training.
Meta Skills for Managers
You will read about 18 management skills later. But allow me first to talk about meta skills. During the pandemic, and even in the new normal, I saw that many organizations thrive because of these meta-skills.
Allow me to share a bit of this.
Self-management is your ability to manage your thoughts, emotion, and behavior to ensure that you remain productive at work or wherever you are. You can say that it is one of the most important meta-skills you need as a manager.
A mentor once told me that you cannot be a good manager if you cannot even manage your daily activities.
To develop self-management skills, you will need other skills too. You need time management, self-motivation, stress management, adaptability, stress management, goal-alignment, and decision-making.
A mindful manager is intentional in his actions. That means he has the ability to act on things that really matter. It is the ability to be fully present, and aware of where you are and what you can do in varying situations.
A mindful manager has the ability to see conflict as an opportunity for growth and collaboration. You can say that a mindful manager is purpose-driven.
3. Big-Picture Thinking
An excellent manager has the ability to connect the dots. He has the ability to connect one piece of a puzzle to another. This is why we say that an excellent manager is a good problem solver.
They have the ability to use facts, make sense by connecting them together, gain insights and find solutions. They use their intuition too to fill in the gaps.
In the VUCA world, you do not always get the complete picture. Even facts are ambiguous. You need agility to thrive.
There was a time that innovation was a special project, not a core strategy of the organization. But now, we see that learning on the fly is a competitive advantage.
Excellent managers possess agility or the ability to think, understand, and make decisions quickly. They cannot wait until all facts are in before they make decisions. Because by the time that all facts are in, it would be too late.
In one of my interviews, a manager said that when he learned that an employee tested positive for Covid-19, he at once decided that all employees will work from home the next day. This after he failed to reach their country managers. He ensures that everything gets done.
Empathy goes beyond the ability to understand the feeling of others. As a manager, it means that you will factor in the situation of your people. You will choose between productivity and safety when you can do both.
Managers must understand what people are feeling now. Some of us are still working from home. And working is not the same thing as sitting on your chair and doing work.
That’s not how it works.
People are anxious. People don’t know what’s happening and what will happen to them. The situation of every employee is never the same.
This requires supervisors to find out where the employees are coming from. Most of us call this compassionate leadership. To me, is malasakit in practice.
Read: Be interested in people.
Read: Malasakit, the Culture of Caring for Others
Resilience is not only the ability to bounce back. Resilience is the ability of leaders to bounce forward when encountering seemingly insurmountable challenges like Covid-19.
Resilience goes beyond our ability to handle stress. It comes with the clear understanding that sometimes we fail, and sometimes we win. That is a long game. But as long as we learn from our experiences, we can move forward and make things better.
A resilient supervisor thrives under pressure and drives his team to higher performance.
7. Adaptive Leadership
Adaptive managers help employees adapt to significant change. Instead of waiting and seeing for problems to pass, they consider the “what ifs” and look for ways to handle them. Instead of sticking to old ways of solving problems, they find new ways.
As I have mentioned before, the Philippine government failed us many times during the height of the pandemic. Duterte believed that the Covid-19 pandemic can be solved by a military solution. So, instead of making medical experts decide, he made ex-generals take the lead. The old man thought kerosene was the cure for Covid.
We need military generals for their expertise. But they are not used to bringing diverse groups of people to the table, listening to them, and making decisions that have never been done before. They’ve got to stick to what they’ve been good at, though it does not prevent the virus from spreading.
An adaptive leader knows that there is no single solution. His ability to bring the wisdom of people, make them own the solutions, and mobilize them so that significant change happens.
Every manager needs to become an adaptive leader.
Essential Management Skills
To perform effectively, managers need to develop these enabling skills. Enabling skills are the expertise or talent needed by managers to ensure that a business unit achieves its objectives. Management skills allow managers to lead a team and support the overall objectives of the organization.
8. Stress Management Skills
Managers need the ability to manage stress at work. Managing stress is a skill every workplace professional must learn.
The most challenging stressors for employees are toxic bosses. Ensure that employees work in a safe and friendly environment.
Stress can be an obstacle or a stepping stone to work success. You cannot make your work stress-free, but you can make it stress-friendly.
Because you are the manager, you can create a climate that allows employees to work under pressure. You can avoid unnecessary conflict. You can balance workloads. You can prioritize tasks. You can ensure employees’ safety and wellness.
In many workplaces, developing the ability to manage stress is often the least priority. It is a soft skill, some say. And that is a big mistake. Your ability (or inability) to manage stress directly impacts performance.
9. Time Management
Effective managers are effective time managers. They achieve their goals at will and on time. They teach people how to work on tasks that matter most.
You can thousands of tips on time management. You can download apps that purport to help you become more productive. You have access to these resources.
But using to-do lists, Pomodoro techniques, and productivity apps will not always make you productive. Time management is a strategic skill.
You ought to understand which 20% percent of your work produces 80% of the results. You need to identify when and how employees are more productive. You need to know how to make employees set goals, create time limits, and execute effectively.
Yes, you cannot control the hands of time. But you can choose how you and your people work every hour of the day.
10. Interpersonal Relationships
The quality of interpersonal relations at work can significantly contribute to worker productivity. You reduce friction, you must develop and maintain trust and positive feelings. It is your role to create a climate of harmonious relationships.
You want people to energize each other so they can work at their best.
People expect you to be fair and just. You must avoid showing favoritism. You want to show people that you care for them without appearing to pry. You don’t want them to think you are power-tripping and abusing your supervisory powers.
You need to strike the right note in your personal relations with co-workers.
And if you are new to your job, you need to manage the transition from being a buddy to a boss. Be approachable and friendly, yet fair and firm.
11. Giving & Receiving Feedback
Providing and receiving feedback is a vital component of the supervisory process. Feedback is an important communication tool you can use to support your colleagues and ensure team success.
By providing feedback, supervisors give get just-in-time information which may help employees improve productivity and performance. Because of feedback, you can help employees see what they need to know.
Receiving feedback from others provides you with bigger perspectives. It is akin to allowing your co-workers to help you see things. Receiving feedback is active listening.
You can use your skills in giving and receiving feedback to become a better manager.
12. Leading and Managing a Team
Effective managers ensure that people accomplish their tasks. They monitor and control the execution closely. Task-oriented supervisors aim to get things done. Some managers do not consider themselves team builders and still accomplish their goals.
High team performance, however, requires a skillful team leader. Managers lead teams inspire, equip, and empower people. They articulate the values, vision, and mission of the team.
Excellent managers ensure that tasks are done and people are happy. They are efficient and effective. By developing your team leadership skills, you can help people perform at their best and become ready for new challenges.
13. Managing Conflict
People avoid conflict at work. But conflict is inevitable; conflict happens when people are actively working together. Often, people who want to solve the same problems don’t agree on solutions.
Good managers do not avoid conflict, they manage it. Great managers mine conflict and turn it into collaborative opportunities. There are proven strategies and techniques you can use.
You can develop your conflict management skills through deliberate training.
14. Motivating Employees
Effective managers find ways to understand people. Motivation isn’t about the ability to use “inspiring words”. Rather, motivation requires supervisors to be in employees’ shoes. See their dreams. Discover their values. Understand what makes them go to work each day.
You can use your skills in motivating people to make it easy for employees to do what they hate at first. You can sell to them the goals of the organization and help them commit to achieving those goals.
Motivation isn’t the same for everyone. But there are common things that people avoid or pursue. Understanding the common motivation of employees is a lever you can use.
Read books on motivation. Find mentors who can share with you their best practices in motivating people. Watch webinars and join motivation workshops. Your ability to motivate people will help you become a good leader.
15. Managing and Evaluating Performance
We manage performance to ensure that we hit our targets every time. We strive to optimize performance and help employees enhance growth and development. set goals, and provide feedback and communication.
We evaluate performance to discover what works and what improvement can be done. Effective managers pay attention to behaviors and results to manage and improve performance.
Performance management and evaluation are a shared responsibility of the employee and his supervisor.
You can use tools to manage and evaluate performance. But tools won’t be enough. Managers need to develop the skills that will help them solve problems, coach employees, and find growth opportunities.
16. Delegation Skills
Managers delegate effectively to develop employees and ensure that they can do what they must do. Achieving the goals of the organization requires many tasks. A supervisor may have the capability to do each task better than anyone else. But he cannot do them all.
Delegation is a skill that requires you to trust your employees. You will assign a task that must be accomplished that they can do. You delegate so that you can focus on the task that requires your full attention.
Delegation is not just making others do your tasks. You need to prioritize. You need to adjust your communication style based on the difficulty of the tasks and the experience and expertise of the employee. You need to take ownership of the result too.
More importantly, delegation is an opportunity to enable and equip employees. By giving them challenging tasks, you help them grow. Delegation is a skill you need to learn and master.
To learn more, read Effective Delegation.
17. Coaching Skills
There are many kinds of coaches. Coaching is an industry. When you are lost and want to find yourself, you can always find a life coach. When you want to improve your results, you can find performance coaches.
Effective managers recognize the importance of developing coaching skills.
Coaching is the process of guiding and supporting employees to acquire and develop skills and attitudes that improve performance. Coaching also helps employees eliminate the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals.
To develop your coaching skills, you need to understand how people develop high performance. You can use job aids and other tools. You can also use a framework like the GROW model to help you so you can coach employees more effectively.
18. Onboarding New Employees
Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with your company and its culture. Managers ensure that new hires get the tools and information they needed to become productive members of the organization.
New employees do not need to feel lost and confused during their first 30 days at work. Companies with a robust onboarding process are more likely to retain and engage employees.
19. Communication Skills
Many companies invest an hour for onboarding. Others do it for a day or two. But strategic companies map out the desired experiences of employees for the first 30 days up to six months.
Of course, it is common to rely on the human resources department for onboarding new employees. You are too busy to accomplish your tasks. But onboarding new employees is a responsibility you must not ignore. Be hands-on when developing people.
Learn the steps in onboarding new employees.
Your ability to communicate is essential to the achievement of goals. Managers disseminate information to employees as a spokesperson for the management and convey employees’ agenda to management. Misunderstanding often happens because of the inability of the supervisors to communicate effectively.
Communication is also essential in building harmonious relationships with co-workers, customers, and suppliers.
Much time is wasted in communicating via Ping-Pong emails. People send emails with unclear intentions, incomplete information, and no call to action. Developing skills in business writing can help you save time, reduce stress, and get things done.
Effective communication can make your meetings more productive too. For example, you can encourage conversations in an efficient and result-oriented team meeting.
Map out how you can improve your communication skills. Study how you can better communicate with your subordinates and produce better work.
Among the essential skills for managers, communication requires numerous sets of skills. It is connected to delegation, negotiation, training, motivation, and others. It is always assumed that many supervisors know how to communicate effectively. The assumption is wrong.
20. Making Decisions
You are paid to make decisions. Be good at it because your choices affect employees and your business. You must make consistent decisions and make them as quickly as possible.
Managers make choices that can impact people and businesses every day. You need to make the right decisions and drive them with conviction. Effective supervisors consider the issue, get pertinent information, explore options, identify the best solution, and decide.
Decision-making skills can be learned and strengthened through deliberate training and practice. You can start by mastering simple steps and considering various situations that will require you to make decisions.
With constant practice, you will gain confidence in making good decisions quickly. Doing so will help you grab new opportunities, save time, and resources, and reduce stress.
21. Interviewing Skills
If you are involved in hiring direct reports, you ought to learn interviewing skills. You do not want to get people who cannot work well with your team.
You are likely to be involved in initial interviews. Initial interviews consist of behavioral and situational questions to determine if the candidate has the functional expertise or qualifications to perform the job functions.
Many candidates have trained themselves to answer common interview questions. It is a common experience that many of those who seem to be a good fit in interviews fail miserably at work. This is because not all supervisors have excellent interviewing skills.
Behavioral interviewing can help you get the right employees for the job. You can use tools that will ensure that the candidate has the right values and competencies for the job.
Develop skills and attitudes that will improve your ability to lead people, improve processes, and impact productivity.
Knowing these 18 essential skills for managers can help you get started. Find out which ones are crucial to your promotion. You can ask your boss.
You can learn more about improving your supervisory skills. Go to What is Supervision?
Effective Management Skills Training
Here’s an effective way to train managers. You can make them develop their skills on the job.
Clarify Measurable Results
The purpose of training managers is not only to give them new knowledge about supervising. This is the common mistake of vendors who give management skills training.
What they do is provide participants with information that is good to know but is not immediately applicable. Do not make your managers drink on a fireman’s hose.
Train on purpose.
Identify the change you want to happen. Find a problem that needs fixing. Or look for opportunities that you can grab now.
Write your measurable goal in one sentence. You may have two or three goals in one training, but it is best to keep the focus on one goal.
Here are examples of goals for a sales supervisor.
- Improve sales by 20 percent in three months.
- Conduct sales coaching once a week for the next three months.
- Improve client satisfaction rating from 89 to 95 percent in 60 days.
Identify Skills, Then Vital Behaviors
Find the skills necessary for your managers to get the job done. You can search on the internet for these skills.
A better way, of course, is to look for people who are already delivering the measurable results you intend to achieve. Figure out what they are and the skills they use to get the job done.
One person does not possess all the essential skills. But I bet you have people who can demonstrate the skills you need to bring the best results.
Let us try our hand with the first example above: Increase sales by 20 percent in three months.
On the surface, the most obvious skill to develop is sales skills. People got to learn sales skills to sell more. It does not require a genius to figure that out, right?
In one of the very few sales training sessions I conducted, the team was able to increase 30 percent sales by prioritization.
Some call it first things first. But very few get it right.
We did not consult the Internet for solutions. In an hour session, we asked questions. The sales team discovered that the opportunity is in the time they make sales calls, the people they talk to, and the measures they must be hitting.
We identified the three behaviors that managers must do every day to help the sales team. We also identified the three vital behaviors that the sales team must do every day.
Engage Your Team
Do you know why training programs fail?
Training programs fail because they do not have specific targets. But once you clear measurable results and vital behaviors, you will know what to expect from people.
The purpose of training is the application on the job of vital behaviors that will deliver the desired results.
If you do not know your desired results and your vital behaviors, you are just wasting your time.
The classroom training, therefore, is just 10 percent of the learning process. I do not mean that its value is only 10 percent since effective training is a multiplier.
Great training can double your results.
But classroom training alone does not ensure that people will learn. That’s because learning is a behavior change. You’ve got to ensure that people apply the vital behaviors that bring results.
I can discuss more of this some other time. I included it here to show the importance of training supervisors, that you can do it right, and that it is easy.
Ultimately, I want to help you identify the skills you need more for the job.
Let’s move on, shall we?
Effective Managers Build Skills
One common characteristic of good managers is that they continue to build skills. They know that in a VUCA world, there are times when they need to lead in the dark.
Even when they don’t have all the information they need to make quality decisions, they have better chances of making it right because of the skills they developed. These managements make them agile leaders.
I recommend that you explore the rest of the articles below and find out how you can bring the relevant leadership training programs to your organizations.