It is often said that management skills are fundamentally comprised of managers being able to plan, organise, direct and control. But there is a lot more to it than that. Great managers develop management and leadership skills that allow them to get much more out of their employees, leading to happier teams and increased productivity in organisations. That’s not to say that planning, organising, directing and controlling are not important, just that perhaps they are not the only important skills to master when it comes to managing people.
Management Skills for Recruiting
One of the most important management skills that excellent managers bring to an organisation is the ability to recruit people for both their talent and their cultural fit. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins calls this getting the right people on the bus. Effective managers know how to get the right people on the bus and they also know how to address difficult performance issues and ultimately get the wrong people off the bus if the fit is not right.
Good managers are meticulous in developing their management skills in this area because even one bad apple in the organisation can cause rot to the core. A person that is the wrong fit will likely not be sufficiently productive or motivated and may bring those around him/her down too.
Great managers are especially thorough and they plan and prepare in great detail for the selection process. As well as looking at skills, experience, knowledge and cultural fit, good managers trust their intuition about when a candidate is the right fit or not. They have finely tuned these management skills and they rarely make mistakes in this area. That is because they also know how costly it can be to get it wrong.
Management Skills for Delegation
Another critical set of management skills that effective managers develop is learning how to delegate. That is because really great managers know that it is important to develop, motivate and engage staff. Delegation is a key component in this area. Delegation allows managers to get work off their plate so that they can be more effective, and at the same time, it helps employees to have a chance to develop new skills. In turn, this leads to greater retention of staff, since while employees are learning and growing they are usually more motivated with what they are doing and engaged in the company.
Management Skills for Sending a Clear Message
An essential area of management skills is that of good communication. Managers are not afraid to have the difficult conversations that are sometimes needed. Great managers usually master the interpersonal skills associated with communication to the point that they prevent issues arising as far as possible by communicating effectively up front.
They handle critical conversations effectively providing constructive feedback to those that need it to be able to perform more effectively. They are respected for their ability to do this in a way that the employee can understand and accept. They also know how to set clear and reasonable expectations that anyone can comprehend and follow. This includes being clear upfront about goals for each staff member and the measurement of these goals. It involves clearly describing what success will look like for the employees when they have achieved their goals.
No one is left in any doubt of what is expected of them, and if by chance they are, they know that they can ask, without fear of the consequences.
Management Skills – Begin with Yourself
Overall, great managers understand that one of the most essential management skills is learning how to manage themselves first. They are professionals and they handle their emotions effectively, applying emotional intelligence to difficult situations that they face with their employees. Great managers know that they have to set the tone and that employees will naturally mimic their behaviour, so they control their emotions and keep them appropriate and acceptable for the workplace at all times.
Ultimately great managers have fine-tuned their soft skills associated with knowing themselves. This means knowing their limits and being aware of what they need to work on, rather than brushing those less positive points under the carpet. When they don’t know, they will work with the team to find an answer, rather than pretending. They work to uncover their blind spots. Perhaps most importantly of all, good managers know that they are always learning and that their management skills can always be fine-tuned and further developed.