Ten 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.

Since 1961 Management Centre Europe (MCE) has trained more than 400,000 managers in the EMEA region. MCE is part of the American Management Association (AMA) that has trained millions of managers throughout the world. We were set up by a group of Business Managers to train other Business Managers and that is what we still do today. Our trainers are all business people just like you.

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

1. Fundamental Management Skills

So whatever your role, 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?

If you need to develop your Management Skills, MCE recommends the following programme: Management Skills for New Managers

2. People Management Skills

So now it is time to focus 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 with emotional intelligence. You have to adapt your people management skills to different situations and different people.  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.

If you need to develop your People Management Skills, MCE recommends the following programmes: Successfully Managing People, Managing People in an International Environment

3. 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!

If you need to develop your Business Finance Skills, MCE recommends the following programme: Business Finance for Non-Financial Managers

4. Influencing Skills

You don’t always have direct control over all the people and processes, you need to reach your goals. So you have to work with lots of different people across the company to implement your strategy. So 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. So 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.

If you need to develop your Influencing Skills, MCE recommends the following programmes: Developing Your Personal Influence and Impact, Getting Results Without Authority

5. Communication Skills

As a manager, you have to communicate up, down and across the organization. You need to make presentations to the senior management team 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?

If you need to develop your Communication Skills, MCE recommends the following programmes: How to Communicate with Diplomacy, Tact and Credibility, Communicating Up, Down and Across the Organization and Communicating to Your Senior Management and Key Stakeholders

6. 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?

If you need to develop your Negotiation Skills, MCE recommends the following programme: Negotiating to Win

7. 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?

If you need to develop your Project Management Skills, MCE recommends the following programmes:  Successful Project Management, Project Management Excellence

8. 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”.

If you need to develop your Understanding of How All Parts of the Company Works, MCE recommends the following programme:  5 Day Mini-MBA

9. 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?

If you need to develop your Business Strategy and Planning Skills, MCE recommends the following programme: Business Strategy and Plannning

10. Leadership Skills

So now you have become a great “all-round manager” 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 much much more.. Let’s talk about that in another Top 10 article…

If you need to develop your Leadership Skills, MCE recommends the following programmes: Preparing for Leadership, Leading with Emotional Intelligence and the Voice of Leadership. If you are a senior manager then the MCE Advanced Leadership Programme is for you.

©Management Centre Europe 2017



You can download an infographic in PDF of the TOP 10 KEY SKILLS EVERY MANAGER NEEDS by clicking on the image below.

You might also be interested in our “How Much Do You Know about Finance” infographic. 10 quick questions to find out if you are a Financial Whizzkid or a Total Beginner. Click below to download the PDF.

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