The world is moving forward, and managers are striving to improve; to keep track of things, they like keeping lists – including a list of skills they seek in potential managerial candidates.
Many companies utilize recruiting software to track managerial candidates, improve communications with applicants, and distribute job postings more efficiently.
Every year, websites and publications release posts on the leadership attributes managers should master before they apply for a managerial position. Whether you want to train existing managers on how to be leaders or interview people who have already mastered some good managerial skills, these skills are essential.
Types of managerial skills
There are three types of skills that every managerial candidate should have.
Technical skills outline what techniques a manager should have in order to make informed decisions and problem-solve efficiently. Their knowledge should include an understanding of current industry trends, software and hardware, resources, and more.
A manager with strong conceptual skills has the ability to think outside of the box. This means that they have their own vision and set of strategies. They can think independently to identify goals, set objectives, communicate effectively, innovate, and think critically.
Managers who can be strong leaders while creating a safe and positive environment most likely have strong interpersonal skills. These skills include the ability to prioritize collaboration, relationship building, teamwork, and feedback.
The top 10 most important managerial skills
Every recruiter wants to find the best candidate. Every candidate wants to be the best candidate.
1. Communication (verbal and written)
It should be unsurprising that communication skills top the list of most-sought leadership qualities. Whether it’s for a managerial, supervisory, or entry-level position, your candidates need to know how to interact with people, no matter the message they’re trying to communicate.
What makes this skill even more significant is that communication is changing. With remote work and virtual teams on the rise and communication going almost 100% digital, every 21st-century professional needs to adapt their communication skills. Chatting, after all, is completely different from talking.
The strongest communicators excel at both verbal and written communication to best ensure nothing is lost in translation.
The world is changing...and it’s changing fast.
New trends are demolishing older trends while new, advanced tendencies are replacing them. New technologies, different ways to approach a job, addition of apps, leadership challenges in the workplace... The list goes on.
With this in mind, it’s important for managers to exhibit flexibility in their approaches to fast-paced work environments where change is inevitable and welcome. This includes being open to updating processes and applications to meet current industry trends and taking on additional tasks or responsibilities in order to accommodate schedule changes, short- or long-term work overloads, or other needs.
Being inflexible can harm a team’s growth and lead to stagnation. Nobody wants that.
3. Time management
How can leadership be effective when aspiring leaders don’t allocate time toward developing leadership skills? Time management seems like a buzzword everyone wants to latch on to when it comes to describing their skill set, but what exactly is it?
A good leader should be like Superman, the superhero who has mastered one of the strongest leadership qualities: time management. You might wonder how Superman is an appropriate example or how this factors into developing strong time management skills as a manager, but it’s simple: Superman leads a life as Clark Kent and as his superhero alter-ego – what better example of time management than someone managing his time between two lives?
It is crucial for managers, leaders, and employees to demonstrate time management skills because it shows that even when handling multiple projects or responsibilities, work gets done, deadlines are met, and everyone’s ducks are in neat little rows.
When a recruiter comes across a candidate who can create a schedule, stick to it, and maintain a perfect work-life balance, they’re looking at a prime candidate for the role.
Managers who execute strong time management skills do these things regularly: give reasonable deadlines, organize workflow, and make sure everybody does their job on time without forfeiting quality.
4. Allowing others to find solutions
A good, strong manager will never try to “over-manage” their employees. Instead, allowing employees to make decisions and find solutions to problems better exemplifies their skills as a manager. Being able to let go of the reins and take a step back is a quality that shows self-assurance and confidence in their team – and themselves.
Whenever a problem occurs, managers shouldn’t have to be the only ones to come to the table with a solution. Helping employees to exhibit their own levels of leadership skills enhances the bond between manager and employee.
Even if the employee fails, they’ll feel like their voice is being heard.
5. Active listening
Some managers think that to be respected, they need to talk so people can hear them. This entails talking over others, usurping a conversation, or not listening to employee concerns first. Contrary to this thought process, listening supersedes speaking.
We usually hear of “good” listening being a key takeaway, but proper listening should be more than good. It should be active.
Active listening requires the “listener” to concentrate on what’s being said rather than listening for the sake of responding. While many managers may think that giving a quick response to their employees’ concerns shows that they’re paying attention to what’s being said, in reality, they may be glazing over larger concerns embedded into an employee’s complaint or inquiry.
By active listening, people open up to new ideas and suggestions that might have never crossed their minds. Listening to what your employees are saying creates a secure and unified atmosphere and team. What’s better than that?
6. Developing (and sticking to) a culture
When new hires come in, they usually do it with the energy to invest in forming a new culture. It makes sense. This way, more people are going to like them, relate to them, and form lasting relationships. But as time goes by, enthusiasm sometimes flies out of the window.
Persistence is one of the greatest managerial qualities to share with one’s employees. If a manager isn’t projecting the team or company culture onto new hires, they may feel detached or less acquainted with the culture the company or team is trying to foster. In this instance, managers need not only “lead,” but also to be leaders in developing culture.
7. Training and onboarding
Many companies have lax onboarding procedures that can lead to new employees not understanding their roles fully. The person in charge of training and onboarding new employees is typically a manager on a given team; thus, it is essential that managers create and execute strong, well-planned training and onboarding checklists for new hires.
To form stable connections, managers need to put effort into training and explain duties, expectations, company goals, and how to approach difficult situations to their employees. By becoming a go-to person for new hires, managers take responsibility for their employees’ personal and professional development as well as soft skill development.
Managers should know how to negotiate. Leaders certainly do. Whether it has to do with money, working conditions, or culture-related matters, a manager who knows how to negotiate can make informed decisions that affect their employees and other job-related matters.
One key way to see if someone who is in the process of being hired for a managerial position has negotiation skills is to see if they negotiate the terms of a proposed contract. Do they question aspects of the role? Do they bargain and barter, or do they let things lie?
What kind of negotiator are they?
Whether the managerial candidate chooses to negotiate the terms of a contract or something discussed in the interview, it’ll tell a lot about their leadership skills.
A collaborative mindset is more than being open to teamwork. Collaboration isn’t something that a manager’s team has to do while they sit back and monitor the collaborative process. A good manager knows that even though they are in charge, it is still necessary to collaborate with their team members.
A manager who wants to be seen as a leader has to put their team first and their ego aside.
Managers have to be “we” focused rather than “me” focused, showing they have an open mind and will consider the opinions and thoughts of their team members and be able to work through conflict if any should arise.
This is what a collaborative mindset is all about: working together while engaging in conversation that benefits the team first and the individual second.
10. Looking to the future
Managers-turn-leaders know what’s coming their way.
Not that they’re psychics or anything, but they’ve invested so much time and energy in studying their industry that they know all the rising trends, how the market is performing, and how it’ll perform in the future. Basically, at the managerial level, they should know as much as possible.
To gauge someone’s ability to successfully manage a team and act as a leader, ask questions relevant to the industry for which they’re being hired and see if they not only know what’s being asked of them but also if they care about what happens in the future.
Listen to your gut
Now you’re equipped with the 10 managerial skills any recruiter will be seeking from potential candidates. Some prospective managers have them all, and some have one or two. Regardless, many can be taught, so remember: if a candidate is lacking in any of the above areas, they can always be trained.
Wondering what kind of manager you really are? Learn more about the different leadership styles and how to use them effectively.
This article was originally published in 2019. The content has been updated with new information.