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Top 10 Must-Have Soft Skills for Managers in 2020

Whatever your industry or sector, being a manager comes with a top-level of responsibility, and there is a specific set of qualities required for such a position. Whether you’re new to management, want to take your career to the next level, or are an aspiring professional, this in-depth guide to business and leadership explores the essential soft skills needed to succeed in any management role.

10 Must-Have Soft Skills for Managers

1. Leadership Development

In the famous words of the sixth US president John Quincy Adams,

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Without professional leadership skills, there is no sense of direction, which is crucial for a business to run smoothly. 

Great leaders portray a respected image of authority, but that is not the same thing as imposing power on others. It means bringing out the best in individuals and teams. To do this, you must listen to your colleagues, be aware of their individual strengths, encourage teamwork and nurture their talents to inspire creativity in all those around you.

2. Problem-Solving

All managers must be able to identify and solve problems within their area of expertise. Problem-solving in business means getting to the root of the issue and identifying areas for process improvement. This involves knowing how to react to obstacles when they arise, analysing different solutions and their outcomes, and knowing your desired result. Thinking strategically and outside the box is the key to success every time.

3. Relationship-Building

Character plays a vital role when it comes to leading teams and individuals effectively. From the body language you portray to posture and tone of voice, all these factors contribute to the effectiveness of your leadership. In relationship-building, an experienced manager knows how to ask the right questions, be a great listener, and develop positive social connections. These qualities are crucial when it comes to closing deals, negotiating with clients and ensuring productive teamwork.

4. Employee Recognition

Nothing boosts morale and productivity more than a working environment where hard work and dedication is recognised. There are many ways to show employees appreciation of their performance, from using a rewards-based system to delegating a team reward. This is a big part of employee satisfaction, so when you notice a team or individual has produced exceptional work, take time to acknowledge it, and in return, this will motivate them to produce a high standard of work every time.

5. Delegation

Delegating work to subordinates is an integral part of any management role. For new supervisors and managers, this task may prove difficult at first, but it is all about planning and understanding the capabilities of your staff. When assigning tasks, make sure to delegate the work early to ensure the selected person has enough time to plan. 

Knowing the right person to select for the task is also crucial, this is why regular performance monitoring is essential, to understand who is best suited to the work. Do they have the right training and resources? These are some important things to consider.

6. Communication

From expressing ideas to public speaking, communication is one of the most important skills to have in life, let alone a management role. Without effective communication, the dynamic of the working environment won’t work, and the company will struggle to meet its goals. Mastering the art of communication takes time, and even the most confident of leaders struggle with it. What you can do to help improve your communication skills in a business environment is to build a positive atmosphere that inspires learning and growth. Holding regular team meetings, respecting co-workers’ views and really listening to them will also help prevent conflicts from arising. Which brings us to out next skill…

7. Listening

Business communication is key for any manager or supervisor. From hosting meetings to building solid relationships with clients, being an excellent communicator is a must. But a big part of communication is also body language and active listening. Keeping an open mind and hearing others’ opinions is so important for a business to grow and maintaining healthy working relationships. It’s about appreciating what others are contributing, whether you’re listening to a client, colleague, customer, or stakeholder. They may have some interesting viewpoints that might have never even crossed your mind, challenging you to think of new  ways to approaches work.

8. Networking

Networking is a great way to market your brand with like-minded people. Some managers work across departments, work with clients, or even other businesses, acquiring valuable connections along the way. But you can also network within your own company and form strong working relationships with other managers, which will help you to become an asset to the company. From LinkedIn to attending professional events, there are many different ways to grow your network, both online and offline.

9. Motivation

One of the most crucial factors in guaranteeing a productive workforce is motivation; but did you know that according to a Gallup study, only 2 out of 10 employees feel that their performance is managed in a way that drives them to work to their best ability. We all love a motivational quote, and when it comes to the workplace, motivation can play a key role in employee work ethic. As a manager, it is important to bring positive energy that inspires staff to work productively. This can be through incentives, reward schemes, extra-curricular events or employee involvement. A working environment that cultivates a sense of inclusion can make all the difference to workplace efficiency.

10. Decision-making

In any senior-level role, there are important decisions to be made that will have a significant impact on business. It can be overwhelming at times for new managers and experienced supervisors alike. But with every wrong decision comes experience, and learning from the past can help when making choices for the future. What is important to consider when making those crucial business decisions is to think about the possible positive and negative outcomes, do your research and if possible, have a plan B. When making a decision, it’s best to take action as soon as possible rather than procrastinate.  Make the choice to stand by your opinions and deal with them whatever the consequences.

Whatever your management style, always keep in mind that there is no one way of doing things – when it works, it works!

But before you start making a checklist of the management soft skills you have, don’t have, or need to work on, we’ll leave you with the famous words of Richard Branson  

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” 

October 21, 2020

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