4 Essential Management Skills for New Managers: Becoming A Great Leader
As a new manager, you’re probably realizing how hard it is to shift from being ‘one of the guys’ to being in a position of authority.
And while you may have grown accustomed to communicating upwards (with your own manager), you’re now in a more middle-man position where you not only need to communicate up the organizational hierarchy to the board but also down the hierarchy to your team.
If you’re feeling unsure of your management skills – don’t worry. You’re not alone. Deloitte reports that only one-third of new managers feel prepared for a leadership position.
So how do you become a great leader?
How do you hone your confidence to carry out a board presentation with ease?
How do you become someone your employees admire?
It’s as simple as cultivating a leadership mindset. But adopting this mindset takes training. It takes practice. Lucky for you, this practice starts today.
What are management skills?
Management skills are the attributes and practice of characteristics that you exhibit as a manager. They are also the behaviors that shape you into becoming a great leader.
But not everyone is born to be a leader. In fact, most managers have worked their way to the top, filling in different roles as they go along.
What’s important to remember for your management skills training is that what got you ‘here’ won’t get you ‘there’. In other words, assuming the role of a manager is one thing, but reinventing the role as a leader requires a very different set of skills.
That’s because your actions – or lack of actions – as you become a new leader will be visible.
All eyes are on you.
It’s time to impress the board, nurture your team, and sharpen your management skillset.
All eyes on you: leadership training for new managers
Things like crisis management, peer coaching, and problem-solving are all elements of being a great leader. But these things don’t just come naturally. You need to practice these behaviors to make them conscious.
Knowing that practice makes perfect, at Krauthammer we train new managers through real-life scenarios. For example, let’s say you have just introduced the GDPR rules (new customer data protection laws).
Someone in your organization doesn’t adhere to the GDPR. This could cause friction all the way to the customer, who may not feel like your company is protecting their data security.
Many new managers in this situation will look at this employee and find ways to make him change his position. Or simply command them to be more GDPR-compliant.
But we believe in saying YES to the person and NO to the behavior.
And that starts by looking at the positive intention behind this behavior. For example, why are they not adhering to the GDPR? Maybe they want to hit their targets or numbers. Then, change the way you manage this individual by saying,
“I like the way you want to make our company even more successful to the extent of crossing boundaries. But do you agree that the GDPR is there to protect the end customer’s data? Without it, we could be facing some serious customer loyalty issues.”
Role-playing in this way is how new managers can really see problems play out, and learn how to deal with them at face value.
Because behind every problem and situation there is a positive intention. It’s about seeing the good in your team and then finding ways to solve the current context. That’s how you’ll succeed in this new role, with all eyes on you.
In short, training your management skills as a new manager starts by:
- Nurturing your team
- Developing a proactive mindset
- Cultivating collaborative culture
- Practicing these behaviors continuously in real life
4 essential management skills to hit the ground running
1. Technical skills
First and foremost, new managers need to have a solid skillset foundation when it comes to understanding KPIs, management processes and methodologies, and the tools, services, or products that boost the company’s sales.
Having a managerial perspective means being fully aligned with your brand or organization, and delivering your leadership style according to the company’s values.
How to train your technical skills: Keep your finger on the pulse
Always align employees with company values. Keeping your finger on the pulse means always being aligned with your company’s values, and making sure your employees are as well.
For example, align with multiple departments to understand objective key results overall. Then make sure your team is doing everything they can to align with this ambition.
2. Trust skills
The challenge for new managers is:
- Understanding how to grow confidence
- Achieve objectives
- Building the team out for sustainable growth
This is no easy feat. Especially if you’re looking to transfer from one role to another. To succeed in all these areas, you can’t go it alone.
Therefore, one of the most important management skills is trust – since this becomes a clear bottleneck for transitioning new managers. In fact. only 40% of team members feel that their leaders understand the best ways to develop their skills in the new role.
We typically see new managers develop their team through constant supervision and an ‘always on’ approach. But this doesn’t get you closer to building trust with your team, especially as more and more organizations transition into more remote working with virtual management.
Building trust has never been more important than it is today. According to an extensive report by Harvard Business Review, great managers are the ones that trust the potential in each individual and capitalize on their employees’ strengths.
In fact, Jaime Roca, HR practice leader at Gartner, notes that leaders who provide continuous feedback can reduce performance by as much as 8%. He states,
‘the always-on manager often provides misguided, irrelevant, or too much feedback [hindering development].’
As a new leader, it’s important to understand when your team needs you to lead, and when they need you to let them get on with their own tasks. Performing a skill gap analysis is invaluable here.
How to build trust as a new manager: The art of delegation
Scenario: Your employee has a big presentation to the board that reflects your team’s overall KPIs.
Common behavior: You take over the presentation because you don’t want anything to go wrong.
Re-training this behavior: You delegate appropriately! There is always going to be anxiety in delegation. But to build trust, you need to let your team take initiative. And if something does go wrong, this will teach you accountability.
And remember: There is no copy of yourself. Your employee will do the presentation differently because they are a unique individual. You need to trust that this difference and diversity are good for the team. Tweak the challenges and roles continuously to capitalize on individual strengths.
3. Coaching skills
“The payoff for capitalizing on employees’ unique strengths? You save time. Your people take ownership for improving their skills. And you teach employees to value differences – building a powerful sense of team.” - Marcus Buckingham, HBR
It’s easy to think that moving into a managerial position will give you the authority to command. But your employees are just as much under your directive as they are under your mentorship.
Being a great leader means honing your coaching skills so that you can help your employees come to conclusions themselves.
“What do you think?”
“How would you do it?”
should be integrated into your leadership style. Krauthammer consultant Forigui Camara calls this, “motivating the effort to lead to positive results. So it’s about praising the effort to motivate the result.”
According to Forrester analyst Katy Tynan, many organizations spend too little or no time teaching their leaders how to be good coaches. She believes that it’s by adapting communication that will serve to motivate the coaching skills.
How to be a coach as a new manager: Listening vs. ‘command and control’
Situation: Crisis control – you have a big presentation in front of stakeholders by Friday.
Common behavior: “This needs to be done by Friday.”
Re-training this behavior: “What can you get me by Friday?”
Here, your role isn’t to direct an employee but rather to guide them in the right direction. In other words, shift from directing to collaborating (participative leadership).
If you can succeed in facilitating this kind of two-way communication, you will not only benefit the employee but yourself as a leader.
After all, no one benefits from being a Napoleonic-style dictator. Not even Napoleon himself.
Instead, you want to be more of a football coach, or life coach, empowering your employees to make their own decisions through listening, collaborating, and using constructive interpersonal communication.
“Listening to the full extent is something we prime at the beginning of each training. We want to help trainees to leave their beliefs and focus fully on listening – not interrupting, not assuming – but really listening.” - Szymon Rompczyk, Krauthammer consultant
4. Nurturing skills
So far, we’ve looked at the management and leadership skills for new managers from the perspective of your employees.
But what about gaining the trust of the board?
It’s no secret that having your employees agree with your approach will help you deliver impact. And your superiors are looking to see that impact to validate your position.
This means you may feel pressure to deliver impact through productivity. Solid facts, figures, and metrics you can deliver to the board.
Maybe you’re tempted to overlook aspects like social chats, breaks, rest periods, or fun because don’t deliver impact.
However, they nurture. They help you build the type of team you’ve always envisioned and show the board you’ve got a team that delivers.
How to coach individuals as a new manager: There is no “I” in team
Scenario: You have a big deadline this Friday and are running out of time in the week to get it done.
Common behavior: Because of the big deadline, you cut lunches shorter and decide to miss the team building day so your team has more time to make the deadline.
Re-training this behavior: You manage expectations ahead of time, so you can make the deadline. That’s the ideal scenario. As a middle manager, communicate the tensions to top management and reschedule the deadline.
But don’t put pressure on the team at the expense of team building days or lunches. More productivity will come as a result of more breaks. Bring your team into the challenge, and work together to come up with solutions.
“Decide you are going to Rome, and let your team and you work together to decide how to get there. It’s your task to set the goal, and your (individual) team members task to set their route.” - Fotigui Camara, Consultant & Sales Manager at Krauthammer
Making a successful transition
If these four skills seem straightforward, it’s because they are!
The tools we have offered are easy for you to implement – so now it’s up to you to learn by doing.
Krauthammer offers leadership team building and coaching skills for managers and supervisors, to help you hit the ground running. We help you build a proactive mindset so that you’re on the offense of your management skills, and not the defense.
With us, you’ll learn how to be a coach rather than a commander, a leader rather than simply a manager.
It’s by honing your management skills through role-playing and feedback that you will see better productivity, more empowerment, and a healthy flow of initiatives and collaboration.