There are a number of basic skills that managers need to master if they are to become competent and proficient in directing the resources under their control. Whilst elementary to some, others may need coaching or training to help develop basic skills that may exist in the newly promoted manager.
First is the ability to manage oneself because if you cannot accomplish that feat, how can you possibly manage others effectively? This requires a degree of objectivity on your part and solid dependable feedback from others you trust in order to get a fair picture of your strengths and weaknesses. All too often managers fail to take time to analyze their own competencies and effectiveness yet expect respect from others that they lead or work with.
As a minimum, an effective manager should be able to identify when they themselves are stressed and how this changes their style and effectiveness. They should also review how they work and the hours that they work, as anyone in a leadership role sets an example to others on how to behave. That means working too much is as bad as working too little. Focusing on the right things so as not to lose sight of core objectives is crucial too. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for a newly promoted manager to seek out a mentor to help them become more effective in the workplace.
All managers should have the basic skill of problem solving. Along with this comes the ability to make decisions rather than sitting on the fence. There are some effective diagnostic tools that point to a person's preferred style of problem solving and this can lead to helping to build a team of complementary talents, compensating for individual weaknesses. Weaknesses are there to be overcome and not ignored.
No manager can be successful without having the ability to plan and manage planned activities. Being able to quantify and allocate correct resources to achieve desired goals is a key requirement of a manager. Whilst strategy development may be left for senior managers, even junior leaders have to accept responsibility for being able to prioritize and plan departmental or individual workloads to achieve the right results.
Having resources at one's disposal means you must develop a sense of how to use it. Delegation is a key part of management, which involves trust and supervision to ensure goals are achieved and employees are competent to achieve what has been tasked to them. Letting go with control is a fundamental step for successful management.
Communication is an area where many management teams and most business projects fail. Being informed and informing others of relevant information that can assist in the completion of a goal or objective is crucial. E-mail and conference calling can be seen as chores rather than the powerful communication tools that they are. Disciplined management around the use of both is essential because one of the key resources available to any business is staff time and this should not be unduly wasted. Conference calls save time and cost but require discipline and good agendas to optimize everyone's time.
Matt Smith – Freelance business, conference calling and technology blogger.