What are Management Skills?
Management skills is the list of attributes required by an individual in a leadership position to fulfil team or organisational objectives. This can include a list of both soft and hard skills depending on the role’s requirement with technical positions requiring more technical skills
Management skills need to interweave negotiation, problem-solving, decision making, people management and augmented with practical experience to ensure that executive duties are enacted effectively and correctly. Managers also need to be able to handle the complexity of interpersonal and team dynamics in order to meet their goals.
Management Skills #1: Relationship Management
Relationship Management is fundamental to this role since Management is about people and utilising them as resources. This is not just relationships with employees, bosses and peers, but also external stakeholders that can help or hinder a department or organisation’s success.
The difficulty in cultivating this skill is the ability to balance authority with being part of a team. Managers tend to gravitate to certain Leadership Styles in order to do this but as attitudes towards work and mental health have evolved, some of these styles are no longer considered suitable in a work environment. Some tips to cultivate good relationship management skills are;
- Control your emotions: Do not be reactive to a situation, take a few moments to get composed before responding.
- Listen to other’s opinions: There are instances when a manager’s skill in an area or topic could be less effective than their employee’s or peer. Acknowledge the expertise of the other individual and let them take point for best results.
- Take an active interest: Treat each employee or peer as an individual, not just a resource. Get to know them as individuals, with their own hopes, needs and motivations.
- Ask for feedback and actually be open to it: Feedback will only be provided if an employee knows there are no repercussions for doing so. In addition, Feedback should be incorporated and changes made to improve.
Management Skills #2: Planning
Planning is the process of determining activities and tasks that need to be implemented – how, what, where and when – in order to meet an objective. Strategic Management deals heavily with this element.
Planning is necessary as it identifies what needs to be done within the constraints provided, such as time, money and resources. For example if organising a large scale event, a timeline and milestones of what needs to be done when, by whom and for how much is integral to the success of the event. A good manager needs to think ahead and not just account for the best possible outcomes, but factor in contingencies in case challenges arise during the implementation phase.
Management Skills #3: Prioritisation
Managers need to not only be able to juggle their own workload, but also ensure that the workload of their employees is fairly distributed, while accounting for task and project deadlines. As with any team or organisation, multiple projects are likely to be active at any given time.
It is impossible for employees to treat all required tasks as high priority tasks and it is the Manager’s job to tell them what needs to be done first before the proceed to the next one. This is especially important in teams if some tasks are sequential and dependent on either an internal or external resource completing them first in order to proceed.
A key Management Skill is the ability to not only plan and organise tasks so they are feasible to accomplish, but to also account for individual workloads when factoring in timelines. Deadlines are important but employees should have a say in setting them as it not possible for any Manager to have 100% visibility on an employee’s workload.
Management Skills #4: Critical Thinking
Effective decision making and problem solving come down to two factors: a manager’s ability to objectively evaluate all available data, perspectives, opinions and facts in order to reach the optimal conclusion. This ability is classified as Critical Thinking.
Managers who develop their Critical Thinking skills can approach issues from multiple perspectives, formulating rational solutions that are built on fact and logic. While subjectivity should not be discounted, because often what an individual terms as ‘instinct’ is often experience, when it comes to problem-solving and analysis, Critical Thinking is an invaluable skill.
Management Skills #5: Industry Knowledge
Industry knowledge is classified as a hard vs soft skill as it is less people and personal centric. Industry knowledge includes technical knowledge, such as programming languages, engineering skills, using complex software etc. It also covers other knowledge that isn’t technically skewed. For example, patterns and trends within that context.
Many organisations prefer to hire senior managers who have prior experience in the same field. This is because it reduces the learning curve and time the new hire would need to adjust and adapt to their role. The drawback of this however, is that often industry knowledge can be limiting in certain functions and lacks an outsiders’s perspective, which could have bought in innovative new ideas and processes.
If an individual has chosen to specialise in a certain career path or industry, then keeping up-to-date on industry knowledge becomes a crucial Management skill. It will be difficult to plan, organise or strategise for projects if there is limited understanding of what end end goal is, or how the end goal would materialise.