Key management skills for every business
The remit of a manager can be a wide and varied one depending on the make-up and priorities of a business or organisation, and effective managers can be the cornerstone of a successful business.
Unwittingly, many businesses and organisations aren’t clear about the importance of getting the right management skills for key management roles. Because of the complexity of many of these roles, some of the basic management skills and abilities managers need can be overlooked.
A couple of examples spring to mind. A professional services organisation only appointed managers professionally qualified in their specialism. Not only did this limit the field for some excellent candidates, it also meant essential people management skills took a back seat in the recruitment process.
In another example, at least two small businesses I have worked with appointed managers for their financial prowess, with people management skills only being lightly touched on.
It was just over two years ago that the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) published research which showed over half of the UKs managers were ineffective. In a global study during 2013, the Centre for Creative Leadership identified the top six challenges leaders face – number one being developing managerial effectiveness.
Finally, in a recent study on ethics and values of managers, commissioned by CMI; the findings show 74 per cent of managers are at risk of overlooking the impact of their decisions at work on others – 28 per cent more than among the general population.
With the size of the task in hand, a slowly rising economy, and globalisation to contend with, it’s imperative for businesses of all sizes to recruit or develop the right management skills. The CMI surveyed leaders from over 700 companies who identified the top priorities for managers as:
- Building partnerships and networking;
- Creating agile teams;
- Tackling underperformance;
- Using social media;
- Managing complexity.
With this wide remit in mind, it’s still essential not to overlook the basics. Over the years of developing and working with managers, I would also add the following skills which are often overlooked, but should be cultivated within or brought into any business, no matter what the size.
To be able to facilitate results through others
A manager needs to understand basic performance measurements, for example the difference between efficiency, effectiveness and productivity, and being able to apply them to people performance. They need to be clear about individuals taking responsibility for delivering; and making them accountable when they don’t. Being able to coach and mentor their team and individuals to bring out strengths: Continuous improvement and development being a key function.
To be effective in the face of conflict and adversity
Managers who don’t tackle under-performance are costing the business and the team dearly. While it is not an easy part of the role, it is an essential one. Fear of employment disputes or not being supported, or complicated policies or procedures can be blamed for inaction.
This is a key part of a managerial role. A manager needs to be courageous, confident, and emotionally neutral in the face of disputes and adversity, and still be able to care about people. This can be a tall order because often confidence is gained through experience. It doesn’t matter how good a manager is in other areas, if they are not proficient here, then they will struggle to be effective.
To be a people champion
Managers who understand the positive energy of believing in their team, cultivating individual success, celebrating success and expecting the best of their people, are always ahead of the game. Cultivating a “no-blame culture”, and using mistakes as learning opportunities are essential traits of a successful manager.
Being able to anticipate and mitigate risks and people issues
The most effective managers are able to see consequences of actions and likely outcomes. They look ahead and plan for seasonal fluctuations. They horizon-scan, anticipating what might be coming along. They are solution orientated, and know what to do when things are going wrong, being able to anticipate the moods of their team and being able to counteract the most negative situation to minimise an adverse impact.
Some of these skills might seem a tall order, coupled with some of the technical skills etc. required. However, if you consider the potential consequences of managers not having these particular skills, you will see why they are essential.
What about you? Have you identified key management skills within your business?