Meaning, Examples, Types, and Importance
Young and aspiring professionals ask this question over and over again, while management consultants-turned-authors continue to make a fortune answering it:
What skills do you need to be a good manager?
The answer to this million-dollar conundrum has evolved over time, especially in recent years, with the role of a manager undergoing a sea change.
Time was when your manager’s cabin was at the far end of a power corridor, in a rarified bubble where even the air smelt different.
It was something you were privileged to enter only when summoned, and you reverentially retreated when you heard the words – ‘That will be all’.
You never, ever crossed your manager and you communicated with him (yes, the glass ceiling was still firmly in place!) using only two words, ‘Yes, Sir!’
The scenario above ties in with an organisational structure where the manager presided over a hierarchy, and communication and commands filtered from management to employees in a Hitlerian, top-down direction.
Organisational structures are now much more dynamic, flexible, democratic and employee-centric.
Besides, technology has changed the rules of business and commerce, and has brought collaboration and partnerships into focus.
Consequently, the management skill set has undergone a thorough overhaul.
List of Key Management Skills
It’s not terribly difficult to become a manager but it’s definitely not easy being a successful manager, much less an exceptional one. Here are some tools you need in your management skill set that will separate you from the rest of the pack.
People Management Skills
A manager is assumed to be proficient in hard skills or technical skills. However, as the corporate world began to realise that human capital was just as important as the products or services they were delivering, people management skills became crucial to successfully running a team or business.
So, sharp business acumen alone does not make for a good manager; healthy relationship management skills do.
A successful manager interacts with his or her team on a regular basis, is approachable, builds morale, sets goals for each team member, evaluates their performance regularly, provides feedback to the team at regular intervals, exhibits empathy and does not make decisions that are biased.
As a manager, your people management skills need to be nothing less than impeccable because, as boundaries get more and more blurred, your job will require you to communicate with a host of people, at various levels, both within and outside your company.
Project Management Skills
Project management is the application and use of resources, tools and skills to meet certain specific goals within constraints concerning resources, time and budgets.
The end result is a deliverable of high quality or a series of deliverables that make up the project.
The project could be opening a new field office, developing a new app, testing a new version of a software programme or building a bridge.
Project management skills include superior organisational ability, planning, executing, evaluating, monitoring, controlling and closing.
A project is always executed by a team led by a project manager. Sometimes, the team may comprise employees who don’t usually work together, cobbled together from different departments or even external organisations.
Leading teams like these is not easy as a project manager needs to be able to guide, motivate and steer team members to achieve their collective goal.
It is therefore crucial that a project manager have great people-management skills as he or she has to get a diverse group of people to work together, perform at optimal levels and deliver quality work on time.
Time Management Skills
Sometimes, being a manager is like being a professional juggler. There’s too much to do and never enough time. Here’s where effective time management can help.
It might surprise you to know just how much time you could be wasting at work, without you even realising it.
Sometimes, it’s just the order in which you choose to execute your tasks that’s not optimized. Did you know that too much mental switching of gears can cause fatigue to set in?
Sometimes, it’s about learning to let go and delegating, freeing up yourself to focus on more ‘managerial’ tasks. Having a ‘to-do’ list has benefitted many a manager.
It could be just the tool you’ve been looking for.
Time management skills include the ability to plan and organise your day and eliminate distractions.
Every individual, and therefore every manager, has strengths and weaknesses, and those weaknesses could be impacting your work.
Yet, as a manager, you have a responsibility to your company. When your weaknesses turn into liabilities to your employer or company, it becomes imperative that you do something about them.
For instance, if people at work quit because you are a terrible manager, or if bad time management makes you consistently miss deadlines, or if plummeting departmental morale leads to plummeting sales, it’s time for some serious introspection.
The act of introspection with a view to getting past your blind spots, identifying your weaknesses and fixing them is called self-management.
But, get this, many managers tend to restrict self-management to areas such as time management, goal setting or organisational skills, while ignoring the equally important area of emotional intelligence.
Here’s a pop quiz:
- Do you impulsively react to situations by allowing your emotions get the better of you?
- Do you get discouraged every time a potential obstacle or challenge presents itself?
- Do you cave at the slightest hint of stress?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, it may be time for some self-management.
There are many techniques you can use to develop self-management skills. These can be accessed via online resources, corporate training programmes or one-on-one life coaching.
The point is, if you need it, get it. You owe it to your employer. And, in the bargain, you get some self-development at your company’s expense!
Coaching Skills For Managers
Research has shown that 70 per cent of learning takes place on the job. With most employees looking to learn and grow at work, managers can effectively retain staff and up their performance manifold by becoming coaches.
A rather neglected area in many organisations, coaching is not really expected of managers even though it is a crying need.
Managers who also coach understand what drives each employee; build connections between an employee’s work and the organisation’s vision and objectives; provide timely feedback; and give their employees the time, space and opportunity to grow on an ongoing basis.
Coaching-Managers have ‘coaching conversations’ with their teams. They make every team member feel valued, which convinces them that the company really cares about their personal growth.
Being a manager can be quite a complex role to play, so if you love what you do and plan to stick with it, start planning your career path now.
Identify good managers in your organisation, find out what makes them click, and engage in a little self-management.
It’s never too early to work on your management skill set – it is precisely this vision that turns good managers into great ones!
Back to the list of key skills.