Being a manager isn’t an easy task but can be extremely rewarding. To be effective in management, it’s critical that leaders have certain important skills. Not just the technical skills needed to do the job, but soft skills must also be mastered to be successful. Soft skills can be defined as “the skills which characterize relationships with other people, or which are about how you approach life and work.”[i] Let’s discuss five important soft skills that organizations should consider training on to improve the management of both teams and projects.
Teams are typically made up of multiple strengths and different personalities. As a manager, it’s imperative that you have the skills to manage and run a team effectively and efficiently. Often teams struggle or even fail, and they fail for many different reasons, such as clashing personalities, or tasks delegated incorrectly, not matching individual strengths. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure your team is productive. Whether on a project or in day-to-day responsibilities, learning to manage team dynamics and identify issues before they arise, promotes a healthy productive team, ultimately reaching goals more efficiently.
“Being able to think critically has become increasingly important as the pace of business has increased, and managers are faced with more complex decisions every day.”[ii] Effective managers need to be able to evaluate a situation appropriately, weigh options and recognize potential issues that could arise, and make the appropriate decision. Critical thinking takes training and practice, and will ultimately lead to successful leadership.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) might just be the most important skill to master. Managers are people who manage people, and people have feelings. A manager who is able to control their own emotions in stressful situations or understand and exude empathy for feelings of those they lead, will gain much more respect for their team, as well as others they professionally come in contact with. “For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success.”[iii] It’s important to understand how you and your emotions as a manager can affect your team, as well as co-workers. Take time to assess your EI and work on the places where you might be struggling.
Delegation goes hand-in-hand with teamwork. Successful managers need to know how to appropriately divide work among team members to meet all goals. Managers often have the mentality that it’s quicker if they take care of it on their own. However, it’s impossible to expect one person to take on all tasks. Managers also need to determine the best person to delegate tasks to, and when the best timing is for doing that. Failing at either point of this soft skill can lead to burn-out or the need to micromanage. Neither lead to team or organizational success.
Every employee is motivated in a different way. It’s critical that managers take the time to listen and learn about their team. Understand “what they value and what gives them purpose.”[iv] Teams need to understand the impact their work has on the organization. This knowledge builds happy and productive employees, and these employees hit goals and produce measurable results.
Managers and leaders play such a crucial role in the overall success of an organization. It’s imperative that they have the skills to be successful. Managers are promoted for many different reasons. Ensure your organization’s leaders are trained in the right areas to establish management consistency and nurture happy and productive employees.