10 Key Skills Every Manager Needs

The business world is changing fast. Probably faster than ever. Clients are more demanding, markets are adapting and changing all the time.

As a manager you need to be agile, resilient and really on the ball. You can’t just sit and wait any more for things to get better. You need to make sure that you have all the right skills to be a great manager and manage your future.

So what are the Top 10 Skills that Every Manager Needs?

1. People Management Skills

The first skills focuses on your team. Your team consists of some great people, but they can get stressed and they have a lot to do. So you have to deal with conflicts and demotivation. So what should you do?

This is where you have to manage your people with emotional intelligence. You have to adapt your people management skills to different situations, different people and often in international environments.  This also means giving feedback, understanding values and understanding each person in your team. They are individuals with different needs from you as their manager. So you need to have a full range of skills to support each member of your team. Managing people is not easy, but with the right tools and skills you can get there.

2. Business Finance for Non-Financial Managers

As a manager, you need to understand all the basic financial reports of the company – including the Profit & Loss, the Balance Sheet and the Annual Reports. This is important for your role and for your strategy.

You are also expected to master cost analysis for your team, department or division. And of course, let’s not forget budgeting and forecasting – this is probably one of the toughest parts of a manager’s role. We are all experts in our areas, but very often we haven’t learnt all the Business Finance Skills we need. In the end it is all about the numbers!

3. Influencing Skills

You don’t always have direct control over all the people and processes, and still you need to reach your goals.

So you have to work with lots of different people across the company to implement your strategy. This is where you need to focus on collaboration and getting buy-in to your goals. Unfortunately, you are also probably facing internal politics and sometimes people just blocking your progress.

It is very important to be able to positively influence your colleagues, get them to buy in to your goals and implement your strategy. This doesn’t happen automatically, so you have to develop your influencing skills and impact.

4. Communication Skills

As a manager, you have to communicate up, down and across the organization. You need to make presentations and communicate to the senior management one minute and then communicate to your peers the next minute.

You need to be able to get people to listen to you, remember and buy in to your goals and act on the information that you communicate to them. And you need to do all of this with diplomacy and tact. Being a manager is not easy. But these are skills you can learn and practice to get them right. Do you want to become a great communicator?

5. Negotiation Skills

Negotiation Skills are a key part of every managers’ role. You have to negotiate with colleagues, business partners, suppliers and clients. This is not something you can ignore.

You need to be able to develop win-win strategies using the best practice of negotiations. You need to know when to negotiate and when to stop. Negotiating is a skill you can learn but don’t forget to practise, practise and practise. Are you a great negotiator?

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6. Project Management Skills

Managing projects is part of every manager’s role today. Projects might be client focused, internal processes or even cross departmental.

Whatever the project, you need to be able to structure, plan and implement your projects. You need to understand all the costs and set milestones to make sure your deliver your project on cost and on time.

This is not something that you can just guess or try – you need to do this systematically with the right project management tools and planning. So maybe it time for you to develop your project management skills?

7. Understanding How All Parts of the Company Work Together

It is not enough to just focus on your team or department, no one works in a silo. So you need to be a great “all-round manager” who understands how all the different parts of the organization work together and achieve the overall results.

But we very often don’t spend enough time trying to understand what our colleagues do and why they do it and that contributes to the success of the company.

So it is important to understand the overall strategy, the financial goals, the role of marketing and sales, the impact of leadership and the supply chain management process. That is a lot to understand, but if you don’t then you will never become a great “all-round manager”.

8. Business Strategy and Planning

Now that you have a lot of the key skills in place, it is time to focus on the strategy. Whether it is at team, department or division level, you probably have to brainstorm, develop and then execute your strategy.

You have to create strategies that work and create value for your company. So you need to learn all about strategic planning – including the key steps in the process and the tools you need to execute your strategy. What are the pitfalls and how can you avoid them?

9. Leadership Skills

By now you are a great “all-round manager” and it is time to start thinking about becoming a great leader.

The first thing to learn is “what is the difference between management and leadership?” Then you need to learn and practice lots of new leadership skills to take you to the next level including:  methods to approach the first day, week, month and year of leadership, leading with emotional intelligence, creating your own voice as leader and growing further from established senior manager to inspiring leader.

10. Fundamental Management Skills

Yet, if you are starting, you need to start with the basics. You need to understand your role as a manager today.

This is very different to being a manager 20 years ago. Just telling people what to do, doesn’t work anymore. It might be necessary sometimes, but it won’t get you very far.

So you have to make sure you have all your basic management skills in place. First, you need to be a good coach and learn how to get the most out of your team.  Motivation is a key part of performance, so you need to be able to motivate your team all the time. Don’t forget you also need to motivate yourself every day. You also can’t do everything yourself, so you have to be able to delegate and know what to delegate and when to delegate. You can’t control everything any more either, so you have to trust your team too.

We know that is not easy, but you to have to do it. And let’s not forget about performance management – as a manager you need to make sure that you and your team are on track, delivering the results and know where you are going. This means having the right Key Performance Indicators and also rewarding the team when they achieve them. So how well prepared are you? Do you have all the basic management skills you need for your role as a manager?

© Management Centre Europe 2021

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