8 overlooked but effective management skills
It’s an old adage but a good one: people don’t leave organisations they leave managers. Successful managers have strong people management skills to know what their team needs to work effectively and how they can encourage them to be more successful. As a result, strong and effective people management skills are crucial for organisations to achieve results. And whilst there are many management skills courses available (including our own) that can help hone your skills, each of us will tackle people management in our own way.
Here are eight management skills to pay attention to as you develop your practice:
1. Know yourself
Effective managers are people who know themselves, from the inside out, good, bad and ugly. They are able to speak about their strengths and weaknesses without any embarrassment or defensiveness. As my colleague, Tom Kenward, recently wrote managers and leaders rarely feel safe about admitting vulnerability because they fear it will reflect badly on them. But being more self-aware, more open and transparent will mean you are more human to the people you manage and they will connect with you as a result.
2. Keep Perspective
It’s easy to stay focused on managing the task and ignore concerns raised from your team, particularly when juggling deadlines and priorities. But why has your colleague said something that frustrates you? If you were in their shoes how would you think or feel? What position are they coming from? Perspective taking allows you to understand the root cause of any problems and enable you to work with them to solve them.
Trust matters because organisations with low trust between employees require unnecessary monitoring, duplication and bureaucracy. The result is often a lack of engagement and high staff turnover. In our recent research report we found that where high trust exists, employees go the extra mile. Trusting relationships between managers and their team encourages people to focus on their work, to take risks and try different ways of doing things. Building trust is one way of winning hearts and minds of those you work alongside.
Resilience is an important people management skill. Visibility brings with it criticism so the ability to pick yourself up after disappointments, to manage criticism, and to motivate yourself is key. Our own research on resilience and accompanying Resilience Capability Index, tells us that our ability to be resilient is likely to vary over time and circumstance, and be amenable to change through our own efforts. Effective people managers are self-reliant. They will recover from knocks because they know that whilst they cannot change other people, or external circumstances, they can always change their own response to a situation.
Today’s working environment depends very much on relationships and influencing skills in your people management approach – both working with and through other people. Influencing can range from a request “I need you to do this”, to sharing a vision of what you want to achieve, asking questions and identifying common ground. Our recent blog post identified ten key influencing skills that will enable you to be personally effective and influence others positively.
Effective management skills means aligning who you are with what you do. If you say something is important, this is reflected in how you spend your time. Authentic managers are those with congruence who are consistent in their beliefs and who demonstrate those beliefs in action. As a result they have a reputation for keeping their promises and for being trustworthy.
When do we lead, manage or follow? Today’s complex workplace requires agility and that means sometimes the line between these is blurred. Followership is often seen as negative but, as my colleague recently wrote, maybe it’s time to recognise that success in organisations is sometimes about great followership as well as great leadership and management. How do you juggle the balance between being a manager and a follower? It’s not about micro-managing, but it is about empowerment and supporting your employee to take ownership and responsibility. They may make different decisions or choices but they’ll get the job done and you’ll both have learned something in the process.
Office politics often conjures up negative connotations around competing agendas which leave managers feeling bruised, conflicted and stressed. Roffey Park’s definition of constructive politics is “Aligning your agenda with the agenda of others, for the good of the organisation”. We need different perspectives in order to achieve organisational goals and that’s all politics really is. Effective management skills is about not getting so caught up in the task or sense of “being right” and looking at the wider context of what the organisation is trying to achieve. And that takes a lot of confidence to change your mind in the face of conflict, if you can see that it would be for the greater good.
Programmes to improve your management skills:
Essential Management Skills is a two-day management training programme which provides a grounding in becoming a successful people manager. The programme provides an overview of people management tools and techniques as well as the opportunity for participants to practice new techniques in a supportive environment. The programme runs in Horsham, Manchester and Bristol
Personal Effectiveness and Power: Influencing People at Work is a four-day experiential programme which develops personal effectiveness skills and techniques that strengthen workplace relationships. The programme runs in Horsham, Manchester and Bristol.
Practical Facilitation Skills is a two-day facilitation skills training course that provides a thorough grounding in how a successful facilitator works with a group, and explores techniques and frameworks needed for effective facilitation.
Need to talk about your organisation and work out a bespoke training plan? Get in touch today