5 Key Skills to Become the Most Sought After Manager
The top concern of most managers has always been how to improve the productivity of their team in the most efficient manner and more so in the current virtual work scenario.
As a manager, you are expected to always lead from the front to ensure everything is going fine within the organisation. You will have to motivate your team to get them to produce the best work results possible despite any constraints. Not only do you need to make teamwork happen by helping team members communicate well with one another but also contribute to creating a healthy and productive company culture. You need to address an array of people matters such as keeping high morale, getting team members to be accountable and also offering support and helping them in reducing stress in times of change, disruption or uncertainty. You have to set the standards for everyone in the organisation to put the things up on the right track. It’s a tough job to delivery productivity!
The skills a manager needs to hone have always been seen as generic and ambiguous, but in reality, there is a definitive skill set which needs to be practised to excel in the role.
To ensure that everyone in the team reaches their maximum potential, managers have to rely on these broad set of skills. These skills are what leaders look for in their team managers and if you have them or hone them, you will easily be seen as a good and effective manager.
Technical skills not only involve operating machines and software, production tools, and pieces of equipment but also skills needed to boost sales, design different types of products and services, and market the services and the products.
These skills include the use of company or technical know-how and processes to do things, problem-solving techniques, and the technology systems to use machinery and other tools. Typically this involves specialised knowledge that requires appropriate training. These could be gathered in an MBA programme, or a career-oriented vocational programme, or even a mid-career skills updation programme.
It must be noted that these are different from soft skills, which can be acquired over time through environmental influence. Also, once a technical skill is acquired doesn’t mean it remains forever. There can be changes related to matters such as advancement in technology, procedures, regulations and industry standards and hence will need constant updating.
As technical skills are specific to the industry, as a manager you must study or oversee them regularly. Nevertheless, some common technical skills may be required across several industries, specifically within administrative and middle management positions.
Conceptual skills enable a manager to deep dive into complex situations to arrive at an optimal solution. This skill helps the manager to develop concepts, ideas, solutions, options &/or strategies for projects or ideas that are not yet concrete.
To apply this skill, as a manager, or one who directs a team it is essential to see the “big picture”. It means envisioning the enterprise as a whole – not just as a single unit but as a part of an organisation and a larger industry. It is also the ability to coordinate and integrate the company’s interests and actions in a cohesive way. This requires recognising core elements needed that can make a situation work and ensuring that the team is on the same page.
As a manager, develop the ability to fast forward to the future and view the organisation holistically is important. For example, suggesting a new product line for a company, introducing new technology to the operations, or entering a new market; for deciding this magnitude, a manager requires conceptual skills.
This skill is a make or break for most organisations, and is different from conceptual skills in its application. The problem-solving skill is applied while handling a difficult situation or an unexpected situation or resolving current complex business challenges at the workplace. For example, coming up with a solution to solve an irate customer’s grievance. On the other hand, conceptual skills involve coming up with a solution to a futuristic situation. For example, developing a new process to manage potential customer grievances.
Effective problem-solvers can guide teams towards the achievement of goals by eliminating frustration, confusion, and misunderstandings before they become unmanageable. Problems that can be solved with greater accuracy; creativity, and confidence, factors that might otherwise negatively impact the organisation will be minimized or even averted. It is also important to recognise that problem-solving and decision making often go hand-in-hand.
As a manager, practice to systematically think through the facts, diagnose the situation, and find an accurate and workable solution which will help the business thrive and prosper.
Part of your job as a manager means you will be responsible to do several administrative tasks in the organisation. Managers are directly or indirectly responsible for tasks like hiring new employees, assessing and correcting the underperforming ones, or firing them, evaluating their performance, overseeing estimates, contracts, paperwork and even training and supervising new employees. All of this requires following set processes and plans, and managers will be responsible to schedule and factor in employee skills, as well as manage the employees to ensure the performance of these business operations.
Administrative tasks may be delegated or mangers may have support staff to perform these kinds of tasks, however supervising, guiding and approving rests with the manager; and no matter the seniority, everyone has to perform these tasks.
Lastly, among all others, one of the most sought after administrative skill is having an eye for detail. While this is seen more of a personality trait than a skill, it is certainly something you can develop over time.
A manager with even average administrative skills can be the difference between a team that’s confused and a team that’s productive. Simply put, exercise these skills and you will efficiently steer projects for maximum results.
People management skills:
After a certain time within a field, you undoubtedly have the experience and technical skills to get the job done. While these skills are incredibly important to your professional development, to take the next step and become a great people manager, an entirely different set of skills must be developed too.
These additional, yet equally important, people management skills must be honed through experience and practice. As you grow within a role and advance in the hierarchy, a large part of your job involves getting work delivered from your team and less of doing the work yourself. A team that is disengaged or not aligned with their team manager, for whatever reason, is certainly going to underperform. People management skills are harder to define than technical skills as these skills are about managing a relationship over a task. They include communication, coaching, guiding, motivating, trust-building, and conflict resolution, to name a few.
A manager is a key connection between the management and the employee, therefore being a good people manager can help in spotting potential problems early and preventing them from escalating.
All five of the skill types mentioned above– technical, conceptual, administrative, problem-solving and people management overlap and combine to create effective team management. You may be natural at one or more of them and may have to make an extra effort to develop some others. However, possessing these skills is not the most important. Being astute enough to see when and how to exercise them, and balance them will make sure you do not fail as a manager. It is like knowing which lever to lift to give you maximum leverage and having all the levers at your disposal. Ultimately, the way you choose to manage your team members will have a direct impact on their performance and overall productivity.
At Yellow Spark, we develop programmes for managers to help them build high-performance teams. To know more write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.