Tools of the Trade – Management Skills for High-performance
A manager’s skills, techniques and characteristics are at the root of management success. For those lucky enough to land in a in a position of authority, whether it be a project manager, team leader, department head, business unit leader, etc, your skills will have significant impact on your team and the quality of your work.
All too often, people find themselves promoted to management jobs or supervisory positions, but completely lack the skills required to bring out the best in their staff and company. Acquiring solid management skills depends on a well-rounded approach that considers a multitude of factors, like listening, efficient delegating and quick critical thinking.
Where Managers Struggle
To grasp the importance of outstanding management skills, it helps to take a look at those examples where one’s skills leaves something to be desired. A fantastic example is looking at the world of project management and problems that can arise from a lack of solid skills. Remember, almost all managers and executives who manage a business unit will have project management responsibilities.These issues can take place in a variety of industries, but examining the Biotech or Informational Technology industries reveals a wealth of information that all future managers should take note off.
These industries are usually project-based since they’re developing major products, like a cutting edge software or new medical equipment. However, retail stores, small businesses or design firms can also be considered project-based, since entire teams are needed to work toward a common goal.
Within the Biotech industry, you’ll find employees like scientists or engineers promoted to project managers by virtue of the fact that they’re vastly intelligent and well-acquainted with the material. However, it cannot be assumed that an extremely bright individual, with zero management experience, can possess the skills necessary to be a successful manager. For these reasons alone, certain industries abandon in-house project management and resort to hiring outsourced management companies
Delegation of Duties
It’s important to understand that a manager does not execute the project themselves, but rather they must delegate duties to the appropriate members of the team. In fact, our Management Leadership Zone definition of management is “getting important work done through others.” An exemplary manager knows their team well and understands the strengths and weaknesses of each member. While a newly promoted engineer may initially have the instincts to roll-up their sleeves and get to work, it’s their job to assign that duty to a team member who’s proven their excellence in that particular job.
Communication is Key
By delegating duties in lieu of taking over the bulk of a project’s work, a project manager will be better apt to improve their communication skills; with important work taking place, a great manager is the facilitator of communication between the team and upper-management. A project manager may have a fantastic, bright and hardworking team, but if the team’s progress isn’t communicated effectively to upper management, than a CEO is left completely in the dark.
The grave importance of communication must also be extended to the team as well. If a memo has come down from upper-management about a change to the project, then a manager but quickly and effectively communicate the message to their team. An effective manager will communicate instructions and objectives clearly, so their own team isn’t left in the dark as well.
In order to improve those communication skills, a manager must engage in active listening, since great communication itself cannot exist without solid listening skills. This an area that managers struggle with, because they often let the stress of upper-management, tight scheduling and budgets get the best of them. While stress is inevitable in any managerial role, it can actually be lessened by simply listening to the team and their own suggestions for the project. A bright, hardworking team understands their work well, and they undoubtedly have great ideas that will help run a project more smoothly.
Stay Organized and Keep Calm
A manager must learn to improve their organizational skills, for this will save them considerable stress down the road. These skills require efficient management and control of important documents, budgets charts, invoices, memos or any important paperwork pertaining to their project goals. Quite a few managers are dealt with the tasks of handling budgets, especially in small businesses, so it’s terribly important for a manager to step up their organizational game when money is on the line. Effective scheduling not only helps to streamline the projects progress, but such timetables must be communicated to the team as well.
Like active listening skills, understanding the tools of effective discipline can be extremely difficult for managers to grasp. Employee conflict is going to arise at some point in time, so a manager but be quick with their critical thinking and calm in their disposition. To effectively resolve a discipline issue, a manager must immediately gauge what type of situation that’s on their plate. When a manager has an outstanding employee with a lateness problem, the issue should be communicated in such a way that stresses the importance of being on time, but also doesn’t leave an employee under-valued for the work they contribute.
The importance of management skills and abilities and an ongoing pursuit cannot be over-stated. Whether you are a newly appointed manager or a veteran, if you are not improving your skills, you are falling behind. No successful manager is ever a completed leader. Things change in the industry, company and economy. Technology advances, government and company policy evolve and change. Staying on top of the latest management news is part of the job. This demands a manager who can learn and adapt. The pay off for management skills growth is high and the responsibility is great
The Management Leadership Zone is a website dedicated to both management news and management and leadership development. Our website is intended to be “open source” for those who become members to be able to add content. Our publisher and founder, Michael D. Moore is a 40+ year veteran entrepreneur and corporate executive in the Banking and Insurance Industries.