No matter what industry you operate in, the people – rather than the product – define each aspect of your success. Whether you’re a CEO or a rank-and-file employee, interpersonal skills will be an invaluable asset as you forge your path.
As your career progresses, you might find yourself in a management role. In this case, your social abilities become massively more valuable, requiring you to refine them into a particular set of management skills to lead employees to success.
Unfortunately, what should be isn’t always what is. According to an Interact study, 69% percent of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. A manager’s lack of communication creates substantial dysfunction, grossly inhibiting the feedback loop that defines good teamwork.
You might not even have any idea that dysfunction is happening. All prospective leaders must undergo rigorous new manager training to ensure full readiness for their tasks before those shortcomings crop up into real issues for your organization.
Why Are Leadership & Management Skills Important?
In broad terms, solid management skills allow leaders to bring people together to achieve a common goal effectively.
They inspire in times of doubt, congratulate in times of achievement, and correct in times of error. Without good management, teams lack a primary fulcrum to hold them together. For the 69% percent of managers afraid to communicate with employees, their teams find themselves doomed to inefficiency and failure.
Good managers employ a comprehensive set of hard and soft skills to act as the oil of a well-functioning machine. While many of these traits are expressions of their inherent personality (especially soft skills), most are learned and refined over time.
How to Develop Better Management Skills
Understanding the importance of having proper management skills, one might feel a sense of urgency to improve their abilities. Here’s how you can learn to manage your teams better right now:
1. Look Inwards
A sense of introspection and self-awareness is a critical skill for managers to cultivate. Managers who can honestly evaluate their performance perform significantly better than managers who cannot.
Think of the worst manager you’ve ever had. In all likelihood, one of their worst traits was that they couldn’t make an impartial judgment of their actions. Managers who are “full of themselves,” so to speak, quickly disillusion employees with their hypocrisy and irrationality.
Self-awareness is arguably the most crucial part of being a manager. Managers who are honest with themselves can quickly identify areas in which they are weak and work to improve them right away. Without this managerial skill, all the others will be much harder to learn.
2. Get Acquainted With Your Team
Each one of your team members is a living, breathing person with unique qualities, goals, and outlooks on their work. Managers who understand this and seek to connect accordingly will excel in the workplace. For that reason, leadership training and training courses for new managers frequently mention getting to know your team.
Take the time to meet each of your team members. Understand their likes and dislikes, and observe their strengths and weaknesses. An effective manager will leverage this knowledge to maximum effect, delegating tasks according to individual strengths.
For example, maybe you have a team member who is introverted, socially averse, and hates informal get-togethers. Yet, while they may lack on the social front, you notice they’re gifted in statistical analysis and can perform those duties without much oversight.
On the other hand, perhaps you have a particularly extroverted team member who lives for their social life. You might find that this team member excels in customer presentations, and you allow them to interface directly with customers during sales calls.
Both of these examples illustrate how a manager can leverage personal knowledge of their team for new heights of success. There’s no replacement for getting to know your team personally, so take the time to do so ASAP.
3. Foster Trust and Transparency
Once you’ve gotten to know your team, it’s essential to continue to build those relationships in an environment of trust and transparency. As John Gerzema notes, “Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times."
When managers believe in their teams (and vice versa), they understand that there are no barriers between them. As a result, team members feel free to discuss ideas, address issues, and even provide criticism without fear of judgment.
The quickest way for managers to foster trust is to show that they care at every opportunity. Effective managers check up on workers, follow up on questions, and readily embrace criticism. In addition, they’re open to discussing personal topics and readily consider viewpoints different from their own.
These efforts lead to an unshackling of the workplace. Trust is the lubricant of a well-oiled machine running smoothly. Fostering this environment will immediately boost your capabilities as a manager and significantly reduce stress in the workplace.
4. Eliminate Micromanagement
Leaders who believe in their teams know they don’t need to micromanage them. So while there’s always a temptation to look over a team member’s shoulder, it should be only as-needed. Otherwise, you’ll create tension in the workplace without even realizing it.
“They’re always standing over me.”
“I can’t do anything without checking with them first.”
These are the kinds of things workers will utter to themselves constantly under a busybody manager.
That frustration will quickly turn to resentment, causing 69% of workers experiencing micromanagement to look for new employment opportunities silently. Micromanagement has a massive contribution to employee turnover, which is why you’ll likely see it mentioned in almost every manager training program.
If you have legitimate concerns about their performance, you should address them head-on. Otherwise, put your faith in your team. Show them that you believe in their abilities, and they’ll strive not to disappoint you.
5. Lead by Example
Great leaders always lead from the front rather than from behind. They never ask workers to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves, and they’re always ready to back their words with action.
When employees recognize your willingness to lead by example, they’ll instantly experience a considerable boost in morale. They’ll be more loyal, productive, respectful, and committed to their managers.
A boss doesn’t need to be perfect, but they need to show solidarity with their employees. When managers work alongside employees, they work with them rather than for them. That dynamic goes a long way towards building a "we’re all in this together" mentality.
6. Take Management Courses
Even in the Information Age, learning management skills can be challenging to master independently. With a deluge of resources available, it’s easy for management hopefuls to feel confused and disillusioned about preparing for the corner office.
Thus, enter the manager training course: everything you need to know for leadership and management, streamlined into a comprehensive study, taught by seasoned professionals.
Management classes for new managers can condense years of training into weeks, allowing anyone to take a giant leap forward in their career.
In times past, courses like these would require attending formal lectures or even going back to school. However, thanks to the excellent materials developed by GoSkills, management classes are convenient, inexpensive, and guaranteed to improve your leadership abilities.
Common Mistakes Made by New Managers
It’s okay to make mistakes, especially as a new manager. When first called to lead, don’t expect to be perfect. However, be ready to temper those flaws with a healthy dose of self-correction.
To help you hit the ground running, let’s go over some of the most common mistakes new managers make and provide solutions.
1. Suffering Imposter Syndrome
Imagine your company chose you to lead a team you were a part of days before. You immediately wonder why they chose you, expecting them to realize the mistake at any moment.
If that’s the case, you’re not alone. For context, 60% of executives worldwide report imposter syndrome undermining their confidence as a leader.
Instead of letting doubt paralyze you, take a minute to reflect on the following:
- Your company sees you as fully qualified for leadership
- For areas you need to improve in, you’ll learn quickly
- Your team might not respect you right away. That’s fine; you’ll earn it
- You didn’t just get lucky; you bring something unique to the table
- Moving to leadership is a significant change, but you’re ready for it
As we move through this article, we’ll emphasize areas in which managers commonly make mistakes and need to improve.
However, these recommendations shouldn’t undermine your confidence. Instead, they should enlighten you and build upon the unique qualities that already make you a great leader.
2. Failing to Set Clear Goals
Only one-third of managers understand their firm’s top priorities. This lack of direction trickles down to employees, of whom only 35% have clear performance expectations.
When you’re a new manager, it’s easy to become unencumbered by seemingly more significant priorities and forget to keep everyone on the same page. However, failure to establish a common direction for your team will snowball into a massive loss of productivity.
Creating clear, concise goals for your team to work toward is crucial for newly-appointed managers. While these goals don’t have to be too specific, make them concrete enough to be a performance metric.
3. Not Actively Giving Feedback
19% of employees only receive feedback from managers annually (if that). Unfortunately, managers tend to wait until a formal reporting period to provide feedback instead of actively providing it.
Failing to provide regular feedback leaves employees in the dark. As a result, they may believe they’re doing wrong things right and right things wrong. As Mark Twain warns, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Don’t leave them in ignorance; give feedback regularly. When given constructively, regular feedback will help your employees grow as professionals and as people.
4. Not Receiving Feedback
Managers can suffer from a lack of feedback as much as employees. Unfortunately, managers are often afraid of losing the confidence of their charges if they seek input from them.
In reality, receiving employee assessments can be a boon for manager performance. Managers receiving input gain confidence in their strengths and awareness of their weaknesses, making them 8.9% more profitable on average.
5. Taking Employees for Granted
When your team achieves their set goals, take the time to show your appreciation. In an era of easy-apply jobs, online certifications, and Great Resignations, finding new career opportunities is easier than ever.
Managers who allow their employees to feel like cogs in the machine will inevitably lose them to firms that treat them better. Millennials, in particular, change companies readily, so it’s extra important to keep them engaged.
While traditional bonuses are an option, smaller, more sentimental treats can boost morale too. For example, handwritten notes, time off, and small gifts are great ways to show workers you care.
The Most Important Leadership & Management Skills
If your firm’s calling you to lead, you likely have many innate skills needed to be a good manager.
That said, getting the job is only just beginning. To become the best leader possible, you’ll need to master old and new skills alike. Some may come to you naturally; others will require years of practice.
This section will discuss essential skills managers need to lead their charges effectively. Leaders who’ve mastered these skills will invariably lead their teams to success, no matter the context.
Time is the single greatest asset your company has. As a manager, your job is to wield this resource like a treasurer manages money. Here’s how you can make every watch tick count:
- Optimize your team’s workflow. Is any part of your team’s workflow slowing them down? Maybe it’s outdated software or redundant routines; either way, find ways to cut out fat.
- Leverage productivity software. Many tools can make a manager’s life much easier. For example, you can streamline appointment scheduling, emailing, and file conversion, clearing a huge chunk of time.
- Procrastinate intelligently. Putting certain things aside is inevitable, and it’s not always bad. However, sometimes procrastinating on essential tasks can grievously injure productivity. So before that snooze button, ask, “how will delaying this task affect our team?”
- Learn to say “no.” Even if you can do anything, you can’t do everything. Learn to decline unnecessary requests to focus on more critical tasks. If you don’t need to be at that meeting, then don’t go!
Unnecessary tasks and outdated routines waste 26% of the average employee’s time. Therefore, optimizing your time expenditure is the key to increasing productivity while reducing stress.
A manager’s ability to communicate actionably and effectively will broadly define their success. Yet, despite that fact, a whopping 91% of employees think their managers lack communication skills.
Many people erroneously believe communication to be a single skill mastered over time. In reality, "communication" is a cover-all term for an extensive skill set that builds itself, culminating in the ability to convey thoughts clearly.
No matter how much of a "people person" you might be, there will be many areas of communication that you’ll need to train. Here are a few of the most important:
- Active listening. Good communication starts with paying close attention to others. Rather than just waiting for others to finish, listen closely to what they’re saying and respond accordingly.
- Body language. Not all communication is verbal. Whenever speaking to someone, it’s crucial to convey appropriate body language. Speakers whose body language undermines their message will find difficulty communicating effectively.
- Understanding other styles. Not everyone will have the same approach to communication. Some may give constant feedback, while others briefly and sporadically. The key is not trying to change others but recognizing and accommodating them.
- Empathy. Putting yourself in others’ shoes is essential to more resonant communication. Empathy allows you to evaluate people contextually rather than just from your perspective. For example, perhaps someone is blunt with you, but you give them slack for having a bad day.
Effective communication is the culmination of many interpersonal skills. Therefore, no matter how charismatic you are, there will undoubtedly be many communication skills to learn.
Want to make headway on learning those skills? Taking a leadership training course can better your communication skills quickly and effectively.
Even the most professional teams will have moments where a supervisor needs to step in to bring them together. Those moments are when team building skills come into play.
Team building is much more than company cookouts; it’s the ongoing process of leading a diverse team towards a common goal. Managers must get to know each employee, understand their mindset, and forge them into a team-player.
Leaders don’t just babysit their teams; they actively develop them as professionals and as people.
There will inevitably come a time to pass your knowledge on to a suitable candidate in any manager’s career. Great leaders take eager learners under their wing, fostering their talents and building an overall stronger company.
Mentorship isn’t only good for the recipient; it’s also beneficial for the mentor. Like communication, mentorship is a collection of skills working together for a common purpose. By improving your mentorship talents, you’ll also improve skills such as:
...in addition to many other skills required for effective management. By learning to teach others, you’ll be illuminating yourself too. Unfortunately, only 37% of professionals have a mentor, leaving a massive gap for you to fill.
Managers will face much more weighty decisions than before in their new position. Rather than just affecting themselves, they’ll now be making decisions with severe implications for their company as a whole.
New leaders must develop a particular decision-making skill set to lead their firms effectively, including:
- Collaborative thinking. Just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean decisions are yours alone to make. Involving team members isn’t just lovely; it’s pragmatic. Studies indicate that including a diverse mindset in your decisions yields 60 better outcomes, twice as fast.
- Long-term thinking. Managers must consider the long-term effects of their decisions, not just the short-term. Otherwise, the company will suffer from the consequences of choices that presently seemed prudent but provoked disastrous long-term results.
- Risk assessment. Many decisions will carry a necessary element of risk. However, managers must often endure it within an acceptable margin rather than avoid danger. Risk assessment skills help leaders decide when that margin is tolerable or not.
- Contextual thinking. When considering any decision, managers must fully consider the context in which they’re making them. Contextual thinkers ask questions like, "Who will it affect, and how long of a timeline? Does it conform to our long-term goals?"
While assuming an executive role and making big decisions can be daunting, management training courses can prepare new leaders for those challenges.
Any manager committed to efficiently working must be willing and able to delegate tasks to others. Yet, according to London Business School professor John Hunt, only 30% of managers believe themselves to be competent delegators.
Unfortunately, many bosses are notoriously skittish about assigning tasks to others. Said hesitance primarily boils down to fears that they’re the only one qualified for the job or that they’ll overburden their workers.
This hesitation is costly to both themselves and their company. Managers who can’t delegate will be overburdened while depriving workers of valuable learning opportunities.
Managers seeking to learn effective delegation should consider the following principles:
- Understand which tasks to delegate. Some duties exclusively belong to the manager, while others are better suited for employees. Proficient delegators can effectively tell the difference, fully considering contextual circumstances like employee skill and availability.
- Trust employees to perform well. Managers hesitate to delegate because they don’t believe their workers can complete the job correctly. However, even if a manager isn’t sure an employee is qualified for the task, they should recognize the learning opportunity.
- Precisely define the expected outcome. Whenever handing off duties to employees, it’s essential to describe the desired outcome clearly. Otherwise, workers will be left in the dark, scrambling to figure out how to complete your assignment correctly.
- Provide feedback. Delegation doesn’t absolve a manager of responsibility. Executives have to check in on workers, see how they’re handling the task, and provide guidance when needed.
Efficient delegators can use workers as an extension of themselves, reaching a new level of productivity. They also recognize the inherent teaching value of delegation, assigning duties to employees to build their skillsets.
It’s naive to believe that your office mood will always be sunshine and rainbows. There will come times when your team is stressed, depressed, or in otherwise poor spirits. Leaders with proficient motivation skills step up to uplift and guide them forward in those moments.
The first step of compelling motivation is getting to know your employees personally. A personal relationship enables managers to understand what motivates employees on a deeper level.
In addition, don’t be afraid to ask outright; nobody knows workers better than themselves. Sit your employees down and discuss ways to boost morale around the office and how you can help achieve their personal goals. Use this as an opportunity to praise them for their hard work too.
You might see an “open door policy” mentioned in many management training programs online. These stipulate that employees are free to discuss anything with managers.
When workers understand that their boss is their advocate, they’ll be much more open about their mood and how you can help them. When workers are happy, managers are happy, and the company is productive. This will put you ahead of the 17% of bosses that don’t keep their workers motivated.
While managers strive to hire the best people they can, it’s irrational to expect them to excel in every area immediately. That’s why constructive feedback exists: to acknowledge shortcomings and provide a path for improvement.
Build up employees rather than break them down. For example, just saying "you’re doing this wrong" won’t help professionals learn from their mistakes or understand what they did incorrectly. As Dwight Eisenhower said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head.”
Instead, try something like, "I noticed you’re running late on this project after missing your deadline last month. Let’s sit down, discuss time-management strategies, and see if we can prevent this from happening again."
Constructive feedback always includes the following elements:
- Patient cadence with no hints of passive-aggression
- Judgment-free body language
- Clear identification of the issue(s) at hand
- A productive solution and a straightforward path to solving the problem
Once the employee understands what they need to do, make it clear that you’re available for any additional questions or concerns. Good feedback builds the worker up as a professional and establishes trust with their managers.
Afraid of your feedback being unsolicited and annoying to workers? Don’t be; 65% of employees desire more feedback.
Leading Culturally Diverse Workplaces Effectively
As the global workforce evolves, teams of diverse cultural backgrounds become more common. As a result, managers training for the future should consider cultural inclusion essential rather than ideal.
Note that the mere presence of diversity is not enough; managers must actively work to include different peoples and cultures effectively. Leaders of diverse teams must create secure and open environments, actively working to empower each team member.
There are numerous benefits for companies leading multicultural teams effectively. According to Deloitte, organizations with inclusive cultures are:
- Twice as likely to meet or exceed financial goals
- Three times more likely to be high-performing
- Six times more likely to be innovative
- Eight times more likely to achieve successful business outcomes
At the center of inclusive firms are culturally fluent managers creating welcome environments. Any leaders displaying talents in workplace inclusion are well prepared for the future and highly sought after by forward-thinking companies.
Tackling Generational Differences
Diverse workplaces aren’t only determined by ethnic variety but also by age. Frequently, generational differences harbor entire cultures transcending ethnic and geographic lines, especially in the Information Age.
Managers need to understand how to navigate the expectations of different generations. For example, while Millennials occupy the overall majority of the workforce, they’re still managed mainly by Baby Boomers. Even in the most tolerant of workspaces, this creates an environment of tension as cultural expectations clash.
Constructive managers learn to manage each generation specifically, be they Millenials, Baby Boomers, or anyone else. They acknowledge cultural differences, overcome them, and turn them into strengths.
Employee Training and Development
In 2019, LinkedIn published a study indicating that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it seriously invested in their growth.
While companies scramble to create new programs to meet this demand, they often forget that development primarily occurs at the manager level. Therefore, companies need leaders who can act as educators, fighting to eliminate knowledge gaps where they crop up.
Managers willing and able to provide direct training to employees will build companies with happy, productive, and loyal employees. This makes managers with teaching skills highly sought after by firms worldwide, especially if they can train remotely.
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives
Creating explicit goals for employees is a crucial component of team success. Yet, a staggering 40% of managers cite a lack of alignment as their top challenge in executing their company’s strategy.
Imagine you’re traveling through a pitch-black cave with no source of light. In this scenario, you lack direction and a metric to measure your progress. Your only option is to stumble around aimlessly, hoping to find the right way out (fingers crossed!).
For employees lacking clear objectives from their managers, their situation is similar to that metaphorical cave. Specific goals give team members a direction to work towards, with a clear metric for defining their progress.
Developing goal-setting skills should be a top priority if you’re serious about becoming an effective and irreplaceable manager. To that end, we’ve listed some of the most essential principles of effective goal-creation:
- Work with employees to create goals. While a manager ultimately sets goals for a team, that doesn’t mean they need to create them alone. Working with your team to develop plans will give them internal motivation to achieve those goals.
- Emphasize company objectives. When preparing your team’s plans, highlight your company’s broader goals. This will ensure your team’s triumphs play into your firm’s success as a whole.
- Don’t overcomplicate things. When creating goals for your team, remember to keep things as straightforward as possible. Simplicity mitigates the risk of confusion and allows your team to focus on what matters.
- Keep goals sensible. While you should inspire your team to reach for the stars, don’t expect them always to get there. It’s essential to make sure all set goals are achievable without overloading workers. Otherwise, you’ll risk burning out your team and losing them to less stressful job opportunities.
- Set clear deadlines. Goals without a designated timeline will always lack a sense of urgency. Therefore, consistently attach clear deadlines to your team’s objectives to avoid falling behind.
If an employee doesn’t achieve your set goals, don’t turn to disappointment or anger. Instead, work directly with them to address whatever issues they’re facing. Then, you can apply the same strategies above to create tailored objectives for them.
To provide an example, let’s assume you’re a new manager with the goal of better preparing yourself for leadership roles. Your course of action might be to undergo management training online, with the set goal of earning a certification. This provides you with a set goal you can realistically achieve.
Conducting Evaluations & Reviews
Conducting performance reviews is a cornerstone of managerial duties. Evaluating employee performance is a potent tool for boosting company success.
That said, not all performance reviews are created equal. Many firms forget the purpose of the study and turn it into a meaningless formality. To that effect, almostlmot 9 in 10 HR managers say their company’s reviews don’t provide accurate information. Low-quality reviews cost workers valuable learning experiences, leading firms to lose out on productivity.
Effective performance reviews are crucial for managers. If you’re serious about upping your management game, consider the following:
- Be honest. As a manager, your employees deserve your stark honesty. Unfortunately, many bosses take a non-confrontational approach to their evaluations, afraid to upset their employees. You’re costing them valuable knowledge if you hold back.
- Speak face-to-face: No matter how eloquent you are, a piece of paper lacks the emotional context of a proper conversation. Even if it’s over Zoom, face-to-face meetings let managers present a judgment-free tone and body language, giving comfort to the worker.
- Keep a positive, constructive attitude. No matter how good or bad a review is, always maintain a forward-thinking, optimistic tone. Even if a review leads to corrective action, emphasize how you’re trying to help a worker rather than judge them.
- Offer lots of praise. Unfortunately, many workers dread performance reviews as the time to get passive-aggressively chewed out by their boss. Fight that reputation by lauding workers for all the things they did right.
Performance reviews are always present in management courses for new managers for their critical role in team success. You want your workers to succeed; good evaluations go a long way towards that goal.
How Will Improving Your Management Skills Transform Your Career?
A jump to an executive position will likely mean a huge salary boost no matter your industry.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, managers earn an average wage of $59 per hour, or $123,370 a year, with the highest being $195,120 for the financial sector. Even in real estate, the lowest-average manager salary industry, managers earn almost $88,000 per year.
Clearly defined management skills open up many doors for any professional. If you’re a worker looking to climb the ranks faster—or find a new career entirely—taking management classes can make your resume enormously more appealing.
Even if you don’t think you’re ready to be a manager, learning these skills can be a boon for lower positions as well. As Mary Poppins says, “if you reach for the stars all you get are the stars, but if you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in.”
By working to improve your management skills, the worst that can happen is you become a far superior professional overall. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Improving your management skills doesn’t just make you a better leader; it makes you a better professional overall.
As mentioned in the introduction, interpersonal skills are at the center of workplace success, regardless of industry. Manager training programs will develop your interpersonal skills like nothing else.
Manager skills also teach tenacity under pressure, leadership, patience, empathy, and many other abilities that look fantastic on your resume. These talents will come in handy in whatever direction your career takes you.
With that in mind, if you’re serious about taking your career to the next level, consider pursuing a management credential with online management training.
Why? Pursuing a manager credential is the most straightforward way to make headway towards manager status. A comprehensive leadership training program at GoSkills’ will give you the skills and certifications necessary to reach the boss chair in months rather than years.