As we strive to improve performance in our businesses, effective management is key – and it is important that managers possess certain characteristics for them to be truly effective. Technical skills are key, but arguably, the soft skills of managers are even more important. Our recent research has found that a lack of soft skills within management prevents employees from having the ability to learn, excel and succeed.
Even in the hybrid workplace many of us find ourselves in, the modern workplace is interpersonal. Skills such as active listening, collaboration, presenting ideas and communicating with colleagues are all highly valued in the modern workplace. Strong soft skills of management ensures a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment; all crucial attributes for organisations in an increasingly competitive world.
Here are six of the top soft skills that are essential for managers to be successful, and why.
Possessing great communication skills is vital to being a successful manager. It can determine how well informed the team is and ensures that employees act as a unified workforce. Communication skills encompass almost every management task. Clear communication communication between managers and employees managers to collaborate with their team, prevent conflicts, and resolve issues as they arise. Great leaders need to be able to present ideas and visions to inspire others. By honing communication skills, your employees will have greater clarity over their tasks and better transparency of the business.
A significant part of supporting employees involves communicating with them regularly and clearly. Great managers listen to their employees and co-workers. Effective communication with workers can impact workplace culture, morale, and even productivity. Leaders can use communication to stay connected with team members and ensure their work experience is built on trust. Opening transparent, trusted lines of communication with employees and intentionally creating space for conversations about how they’re doing will allow managers to build trust and help their teams feel supported regardless of the obstacle.
2. Problem Solving
Problem-solving is another essential soft skill; it’s a key part of any manager’s job. What workplace doesn’t have problems that arise on a daily basis? A good manager must have the ability to tackle and solve the frequent problems that can arise in a typical workday, finding the best way to handle the problem and get the best solution before they become bigger issues. By spotting problems before they come to a head and identifying the root of the problem you take the pressure off your employees and those above you. Knowing how to react to obstacles when they arise, analysing different solutions and their outcomes, and knowing your desired result helps identify areas for process improvement and prevent the issues reoccurring.
3. Successful Mindset
Having a successful mindset not only allows you to tackle problems head on, it helps a good manager to motivate those around them. Having confidence and a positive approach shows your employees that you believe in your own abilities, which will increase their respect for you.
When team members are facing a difficult or less exciting task, a successful, positive mindset will enable a manager to create reasoning or enthusiasm as to why something needs to be done in a certain way and why it’s important – for both the individual’s and the business’s goals. As a manager, it is important to bring positive energy that inspires staff to work productively. A successful mindset will create a workplace which boosts morale and productivity and will foster an environment where hard work and dedication is recognised.
4. Leadership and Influence
Good leadership encompasses many things, and employees are quick to recognise when it’s not present. We’ve already covered communication but having a vision and setting direction is a much-needed characteristic for a good manager. Being able to see the big picture and the company’s goals is vitally important for a manager. Being able to translate that vision into practice is an even better skill. When managers can see what the future holds, then they can make changes and communicate this vision to their employees. This leads to being able to meet goals successfully and troubleshooting barriers and issues well.
A good manager also needs to be influential in the workplace, helping them become an outstanding leader and accomplish business goals. Building influencing skills can help them encourage and persuade colleagues to support their goals and ideas and affect change.
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. Good managers, when making crucial business decisions, consider the possible positive and negative outcomes and associated risks. Making proper and right decisions results in the success of the organisation, while poor or bad decisions may lead to failure or poor performance. A manager must be accountable for every decision that they make and also be willing to take responsibility for the results of their decisions.
Delegating work to others is an integral part of any management role. This starts with delegating based on team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Good managers know when certain people are best equipped to perform specific tasks—and when to stop overburdening the team’s ‘all-stars’.
Managers must know how to identify any additional training, resources, or support needed – and then find a way to provide that support. Seeing an employee’s potential and honing those skills and knowledge should also be key for a great manager. Developing employee skills, knowledge and talent leads to a more successful organization, and a more satisfied and engaged workforce.
As the saying goes, people don’t quit a job, they quit a boss. There are plenty of surveys available showing that anywhere between 50% and 75% of employees leave their job because of their manager.
Conversely, great managers can improve retention rates, increase productivity and teamwork, and improve employee satisfaction. By harnessing and developing soft skills, managers can give their teams the support and motivation they need to perform, develop and face new challenges – and succeed.
To find out more about why these soft skills are so critical within managers, take a look at our latest research into what business leaders' and employees think...