Being a manager is not easy. Sure, the role comes with a great set of perks–having more freedom when it comes to clocking in and out, getting higher pay, in some cases, better medical coverage, and more respect from peers, among many others. But it also comes with a lot more weight. Sure, you can clock in and out anytime you want, but that also means working regardless if you’re physically in the office or not. Higher paycheck? Yes, but also more responsibilities, and sometimes, having to do the work of your subordinates to ensure your team’s performance.
That said, being a manager is great. It allows you to grow not just professionally but even on a personal level. It also gives you the opportunity to guide others and help create a friendly environment where your colleagues can thrive.
The road to being a manager is not the same for all. Others take decades before snatching this role, while the opportunity comes sooner for others. Regardless of how you get there, there are some key skills that any manager should possess in order to be successful.
Creative and critical thinking
Managers are tasked to solve problems within their units. That said, if any issue comes up, you should be able to formulate a clear solution to address it. Now let’s be honest. Not all the problems you’ll face are written on your company’s handbook or were discussed during training. This is why it’s important for managers to have the ability to look at situations, search for all important details, and come up with a solution that will benefit everyone.
Making people feel at ease
Let’s face it–no one wants to work for a brown nose manager. That said, you also can’t get too friendly with your subordinates, otherwise, you risk losing their respect as a manager. The key to finding that sweet spot where you create a nice working atmosphere for your team is by setting time to get to know and interacting with your team members on a personal level, yet always asserting your role and authority while at work. Create boundaries, but also you need to create enough human connection so that they’d feel OK talking to you about personal struggles that can be affecting their performance.
Expert level communication
This means not only knowing what to say but also knowing what not to say. In addition, it’s also important to know when best to say things and how (whether this can be expressed through an email, a person to person meeting, etc.). Communicating is an innately human trait. However, as a manager, you need to hold such mastery of this skill that you’re even able to tell the repercussions of saying or withholding some things.
Project management and delegation
As a manager, your main job is no longer to do specific tasks but to ensure that the micro organization under you functions well. This means making sure that every phase of the workflow is manned by a competent person, making sure that deadlines are met, and that your output is constantly improving. Project management is something you can learn by taking online courses. Similarly, you need to get to know the strengths and expertise of your people, so you know if everyone is fit for their job.
Prioritizing and up-managing
There are days, weeks, sometimes, months, when your unit will not be able to keep up with demands due to a number of factors. Regardless of how you try, there will come a time when some things can’t be done. And during times like this, you need to be able to step up as the manager to do the following: First, make sure you communicate to your superiors that your team is at full capacity and give them a specific timeline when the work in its entirety will be done; second, make sure that your people are not burning out; three, three, prioritize the tasks that need to be finished first.
Aside from the above-mentioned skills, you also need to have a good technical knowledge of the different aspects of your team’s function (this is why experience is very important) and the landscape of your industry. Keep in mind that being a manager is like being a shepherd. You are responsible for the output and welfare of everyone in the flock–in a way, this is your output. So if you feel like you are ready to take on this responsibility, go ahead and tell your boss that you are looking at growing to a managerial role within the company!