Being a good manager isn’t easy. It requires the ability to utilize a variety of skills, each of which can take years (sometimes many years) to master. While a wide number of management skills can be said to play a part in the management process, this article covers five management skills commonly cited as being prerequisites to managing well.
#1. The Ability to Communicate Productively
The ability to communicate constructively is a hallmark of good leadership. As a manager, you need to establish a policy of open communication between yourself and your staff to ensure that you are kept up to date on all relevant information about your company’s business. Proactive communication is essential to realizing optimal outcomes at every step on your company’s value chain.
Good managers encourage their team members to ask questions and freely provide feedback as a means of helping them improve their skill and knowledge. When you create an expectation of communication among your team members it makes it easier for you to stay abreast of relevant events and make good decisions. The more freely information flows, the better the information you receive from your team members is likely to be, and the better the decisions you make are likely to be.
#2. Willingness to Do Things Yourself
One sign of a good manager is that they are ready to perform tasks both large and small if the need arises. Taking this approach, both enables you to build loyalty with those you manage and to improve your understanding of the underlying business. When your team members see that you are willing to get your hands dirty and do what is needed to be done when necessary it serves as a source of inspiration.
Managers who avoid doing any of the day-to-day tasks which make up much of their subordinates’ duties risk growing out of touch with the requirements of their business. Besides the negative effect staying aloof in this manner can have on employee morale, it can also hurt a manager’s ability to make good business decisions. As a result, the best managers, while understanding how to delegate authority and let employees do their jobs, will nevertheless pitch in and perform some of these tasks when appropriate.
#3. Able to Motivate
Good managers realize that managing is much more than simply giving orders. To get the best results, a manager must be able to motivate their team members as well as instruct them. The managers who gain the trust of and inspire those working for them are generally the ones who achieve the best results.
To inspire loyalty and motivate team members, a good manager will employ a variety of techniques, including:
- Taking an interest in team members as individuals, above and beyond their role with the company. Get to know the people working for you and what makes them tick. Dealing with them as individuals shows them they are more than just another cog in a wheel and predisposes them to want to do their jobs well.
- Organizing team building events such as social functions or strategy sessions. Events of this type allow you to build a rapport with individual team members and your team as a whole. It enables you to emphasize the importance of the team working together to achieve goals, which is the essence of good management.
- Working side by side with team members on a regular basis. As mentioned above, getting your hands dirty and working side-by-side with members of your team is a good way to gain their trust and loyalty.
- Link performance to both team and individual rewards. Don’t forget to acknowledge the appeal of material benefits in motivating your team members. Linking their performance to the rewards they can reap from their employment with your firm is a powerful method of incentivizing performance.
- Acknowledge superior performance. In addition to material inducements, make sure you take the time to acknowledge good work by your team members.
- Offer to assist team members who are struggling with a task. Almost everyone struggles with an assignment from time to time. If one of your team members faces such a situation, offer to help them overcome the challenges they face.
#4. Able to Facilitate Collaboration
In the modern business world, collaboration is at the heart of success. Especially when complex tasks are involved, successful management often involves collaboration among a number of team members. Good managers understand this and take steps to facilitate the process. This can include taking steps to improve group cohesion, such as sponsoring team building meetings and events.
It also includes assigning tasks to groups of employees based on the degree to which their skills complement each other. For instance, a sales force for a technical project without any technical experts for support is not likely to do as well as one that includes both technical and sales experts. Another resource managers can use to better foster collaboration is to provide their team members with access to collaboration tools that enable workers to communicate with each other and access relevant material such as documents and files. These tools enable your team to work together effectively even if some members are working remotely, either permanently or temporarily.
#5. The Ability to Delegate Authority
To maximize buy-in among team members, a manager must give them full or partial ownership of the tasks they are assigned to undertake. Delegating authority sufficient to enable employees to do their jobs is essential to good management. Part of the skill of managing well is knowing which employees should be assigned which jobs.
Once you have delegated authority to an employee, don’t impinge on their ownership of the task by micromanaging. This can lead to suboptimal results by alienating the team member involved and due to the fact that your skill at completing the task is not likely to match theirs – otherwise you wouldn’t have given them ownership of the task in the first place.
To establish conditions that promote optimal performance, combine delegation of authority with a reward system that benefits team members who perform their jobs well. This ensures accountability and also alleviates the need to attempt to micromanage. If the rewards system is well designed, they will have plenty of motivation to do their job properly along with the freedom to accomplish the tasks they have been assigned in the way that seems best to them.
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