There is never a wrong time to be working on your management skills. Endlessly useful in life, management skills help us take charge of our environments, while also allowing others to take charge of their environments too. Developing your management skills, even if you’ve never been a manager, will actually help you land your dream job and rise in the ranks. You might even find that possessing management skills is the very thing you need to be offered your dream job.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
What are management skills and why they’re important
The nine best management skills to develop
How to improve your management skills throughout life
How developing management skills can help you land a dream job.
What are management skills?
It’s common to associate management skills with tasks: creating schedules, submitting payroll, and following protocols. But if you were to ask a manager about their most important skill, most would answer by describing human dynamics.
While any management position will typically involve oversight of a project, production, or product development, most management skills don’t relate to those specific tasks. Instead, management skills refer to people skills. Conflict resolution, empathy, and problem-solving, to name a few. Leadership and management skills are usually considered to be synonymous.
Why are management skills important?
Every workplace will benefit from the application of management skills. They allow a team to work efficiently and effectively, while also feeling supported. When applied correctly, management skills create an environment of trust, where every person feels like a valued member of a team. The key to getting results is to encourage your team to pursue results.
What are 9 top management skills and how can they help you?
Consider these management skills as you develop your professional identity. Regardless of where you are in your career, attaining these skills is sure to make you a stronger candidate.
The skill that will be used a hundred times a day is problem-solving. Every time an employee pops their head in, there’s a lull in production or a miscommunication, problem-solving skills need to be deployed.
The mastery of problem-solving skills will allow you to look at the big picture and compartmentalize the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve the desired outcome. At some levels of professionalism, problem-solving requires creativity, and at others, it requires knowing which policy or procedure to refer to.
Have you ever seen the 1999 movie Office Space? If so, the cringe of workplace boredom probably still lives in you. Office Space gives us a perfect example of why motivation is important in the workplace: to keep it an enjoyable environment to keep returning to.
The key to motivation is understanding that everyone feels motivated by different influences. For some, loud energetic environments are inspiring. For others, having defined goals and receiving regular praise for their efforts is motivating. As a leader, it’s your job to cater the motivation type to each individual personality.
Sometimes referred to as adaptability, flexibility describes the ability to handle pressure and changes well. To understand this concept on a large scale, let’s examine the architecture in Japan. As a country prone to earthquakes, society has had to adapt to its environment. One might think that strength is the greatest counter to an earthquake. On the contrary, however, Japanese architects realized that flexibility is actually the key. In theory, flexibility allows a structure to take impact, be put under pressure, and still remain unbroken. Simply put, if you bend with the challenges you face, then you’ll never break.
Do what you can to mirror this philosophy in the workplace. Regardless of the pressure, the stress, and the uncontrollable influences, do your best to work with them. Lean into the hardship in order to find your way through. That is the key to flexibility.
It’s no secret that every professional’s goal is to gradually increase their status and responsibility as they progress. We don’t gatekeep in today’s workforce, there’s plenty of room at the top. A great leader encourages growth and is available to help along the way.
Some tools for implementing mentorship opportunities are group meetings, goal setting, and being approachable. If someone asks you a question, don’t just resolve the problem. Show them how to do it themselves.
5. Giving feedback and praise
It can be hard to set a precedent of giving praise and feedback. A common sentiment in leader dynamics is that the leader only says something if a mistake occurred. That is a surefire way to hinder morale and efficiency. Celebrate your colleagues regularly. Design it into your workspace. Try implementing an end-of-week meeting every Friday, simply for the purpose of offering praise and feedback. Praise doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simple recognition of effort will have a huge impact.
Feedback is most effective when thought of more as feedforward. Even if you’re giving negative feedback, keep it constructive to promote a healthy dynamic that encourages the team to keep working towards the goal.
6. Conflict resolution
Whether it’s a conflict between two subordinates, between management and their direct reports, or among clients and staff, conflict is a normal part of the workplace. You’ll be considered an effective leader if you can maneuver conflicts in a respectful and peaceful manner.
There are many books, videos, and online courses to help professionals develop their conflict resolution skills for the workplace. Try typing “conflict resolution for the workplace” into Youtube, and see all the resources that appear.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of management. On one side of things, you need to keep your business’s bottom line in mind. Things are expected of you and your team, and it’s your job to deliver. On the other hand, we’re all just human and life is complicated.
When hard things happen to us, we all think, “This is completely out of my control. I hope my team can recognize and appreciate that”. But when you’re the team leader and one of your staff has missed a deadline, it can be easy to think, “No excuses”. Empathy in the workplace is recognizing that you can run a successful business and still not prioritize it over the well-being of others. Practicing empathy creates an environment of trust and safety, and will ultimately increase output and productivity.
Communication affects every aspect of life. Yet it can be the most elusive skill. Some days you might have excellent communication skills, and other days you might represent yourself poorly. It can also be very difficult to handle your communication well when you are speaking to someone who is not communicating well. This comes up all the time in the workplace. To continue developing your communication skills, try looking up videos and articles on effective communication in the workplace.
The art of delegation is critical for the workplace, especially for someone in pursuit of or already in a management position. As we progress in our careers, we develop the skills we need to get by. However, once you’ve progressed to a certain point, you are given the responsibility of showing others how to accomplish the same tasks. For many newbies to management, delegation can be difficult because it often feels easier to just do the task yourself. Delegation asks you to rely on your team, to trust them to achieve their goals, and to be the one to hand out directives in a logical and organized manner. Delegation is a foundation of teamwork.
Which manager skill is most important?
All management skills are equally important. However, there are some that may come up more frequently, or have larger stakes tied to them than others. Communication, empathy, flexibility, and giving feedback are pretty crucial at all levels of the workplace, so those might be good places to start developing your management skills.
How can you improve your management skills?
Management skills are always evolving, meaning you may have mastered them at some point in life, and then find that you need to return years later and begin your work again. It's a great practice to implement anyways into your life because the workforce as a whole is constantly developing and rebranding itself. Norms and etiquette change, technology changes the scene, and some skills become irrelevant while others become pivotal.
To keep improving your management skills, look into online resources like LinkedIn Learning and Udemy for courses and workshops on management skills. Stay up to date on workplace trends, and be humble enough to recognize when you need improvement. It’s okay to relearn a lesson, and in many workplaces, it's even applauded.
How can management skills help me land my dream job?
Even if you don’t have management experience on your resume, by listing off your experience with management skills, you are saying you have a capacity for leadership. This can help you stand apart from other candidates for a position. If a competitor has management experience but not the accompanying skills, a recruiter might wonder if they are capable of performing well as a manager. If a candidate has embodied the skills but doesn’t have the experience yet, a recruiter will likely consider them as capable of succeeding.
Management skills can benefit your personal growth at any phase of your life and career.
You’ll need to check back often in life to determine which skills need to be refreshed.
Developing management skills looks great on a resume and can help you land your dream job.