Soft skills are vital for any manager to be able to lead effectively, but there are a LOT of them out there. So which ones should your managers be focusing on first?
The Timeless Five are the five soft skills that every manager needs under their belt. These few skills work together in harmony to create a balanced skill set that will help your managers overcome problems and empower their teams in the process.
These skills are truly timeless, and they get repeated over and over for good reason.
We have broken down these five skills with this simple breakdown, as well as tips and suggestions for how to implement them in your teams.
Timeless Skill #1 – Listening
Hard to communicate effectively, or lead, if you’re not listening to people. So learning how to listen, is important for any manager, any year.
Also knowing how to read the lines can be a valuable skill to have. People don’t always put everything out there, so it’s up to your managers to know how to listen and read between the lines.
- When it comes to listening to others you will want to get rid of any and all distractions when you do it. Setting a time and place can help. And do all the usual things like turning devices on silent, not looking at the computer, and keeping engaged with the conversation.
- Employees, too, will feel more empowered when they see that you take what they have to say seriously enough to not give in to the myriad of distractions.
Give nonverbal cues.
- Watch your body language, even when you are listening. Your nonverbal cues, like eye & body movements, will give you away.
- Sit still, lean s
lightlyforward, and keep your eyes on the person you are speaking too. Make sure that your body language is as engaged as your mind is.
- Let the people you are trying to listen to complete their thoughts before taking your turn to talk.
- Don’t interrupt the person, even if you feel that you understand what they are saying.
- Letting them get their own words out shows them that you respect them enough to actually listen to them.
Put away your emotions and judgements.
isa time and a place for a manager to have emotions when it comes to listening to and engaging with employees.
- Also, it is important to hold off from judging your employees. It is easier to listen and engage with employees when you have an open mind not clouded by biases.
Repeat what they said back to them & ask questions.
- The point can get lost in the details, so make sure that you repeat back what you took away from the conversation. This simple step shows them that you were listening.
- Also, make sure to ask the other person questions. It is better to clarify something there on the spot than to let problems arise by not getting the answer to the question.
- Make it a conversation and offer them a chance to ask questions or get clarification on anything themselves.
Timeless Skill #2 – Communication
You can’t have a manager without a team, so knowing the dynamics and how to run them is important! Understanding others and knowing how to communicate messages effectively is vital for managing teams.
Here are a few keytips for helping new managers communicate effectively:
Give Your Undivided Attention.
It might sound easy, but this can be challenging when there is a lot going on. Whether you’re in a group meeting or with one employee, offering your full focus to those you’re with will greatly improve how you’re received.
Take Time to Listen.
Don’t monopolize the conversation. Employees are assets, not burdens, so get your new managers into the habit of listening to their team. Employees often have key insights into problems, and more importantly, solutions.
Setting time to listen to your employees will also make it easier to give your undivided attention.
Be Mindful of HowYou’re Communicating.
What is your body language and tone conveying? Your non-verbal cues are important when it comes to making someone feel at ease or on guard. Make sure that your new managers understand how to communicate in a way that fosters a positive team dynamic.
Inform and Inspire.
There are a lot of ways to communicate, but recent studies are finding that an emotionally intelligent approach is best. When your managers strive to create a dynamic based on inspiration, your team will be more open to receiving of those messages. As a rule of thumb, it is better to inform than to dictate.
Follow Up in Writing.
Another trick to communicating with teams is to put it into writing. It helps to both send a summary message right after the meeting aswell as a written follow-up a few days after. By sending a written follow-up you also make it easier for them to reach back with concerns or questions.
Timeless Skill #3 – Time Management
There is a lot going on in a business and it’s up to the managers to keep up with all the ‘when’s. Hands down, time management is a key skill for any team to be effective and successful.
Here are afew of our top tips for this timeless skill:
To make improvements, first figure outwhere your time is going.
How long are tasks taking your new managers, and their team members? Are there areas that could be improved? You can also look at the process itself, as well as your team’s strengths and weaknesses to make sure that the tasks are aligned as effectively as possible.
Createa daily schedule that is easy to follow.
Easier said than done, but it is important that your team has a routine and daily schedule that everyone can be familiar with and follow with ease. Then stick to it! Routine will also help your team better handle the unexpected and change.
When you understand how long tasks take it is easier to understand how best to delegate those tasks. If you are having a problem with time management across your teams, it might be a simple task organization, or delegation, problem.
Eliminate the need to multitask.
While it is tempting, multitasking has been proven time and again to actually DISRUPT the progress of the workflow. This problem, however, sometimes comes from the management’s side. Wisedelegation eliminates the need to multitask, most of the time. Help your managers avoid multitasking to see an improvement in how teams spend their time.
Set goals and time limits to tasks.
As your team becomes more familiar with the time it takes to complete tasks start assigning time limits. Allow a period for adjustment when training your teams on something new, but for tasks that they are familiar with, go ahead and create time-based goals.
Say NO to ‘yes’ management.
New managers are often wanting to win over their teams, and they often do this by becoming the ‘yes’ managers. While it’s good that your new managers what to foster positive relationships and make a good impression, just make sure that they also learn how to say ‘no’. By knowing when to say ‘no’, your new managers will be more successful in managing their own time, as well as that of their employees.
Timeless Skill #4 – Goal Setting
Your new managers won’t be getting far if they don’t have goals, know how to set them, and know how to get their team to achieve them. This is why goal setting will always be around as a top skill for any level of management.
Here are a few steps your new managers can take to set and manage goals for their teams:
Plan ahead for the big picture, and the steps it would take to get there.
Achieving a goal usually comes in stages, so get clear on what the big picture is before you start narrowing down the steps to take.
Define what achieving the goal looks like, and the benefits of the result.
What is the point of the goal? What do the results of achieving the goal look like? It is vital for any goal setting that you are clear on what the results are, look like, and how they benefit the company.
When creating the goal, focus on what you can control then plan ahead for what you can’t.
When your new managers are setting goals for their teams it is important that they focus first on the parts that they can control. Then have them prepare for the things that they can’t control. There is going to be the unexpected in any business, but for many cases, you can have a plan made ahead of time for how to handle it. This will be a huge help to your managers later on.
Track accomplishments by comparing to-do lists with annual goals and team results.
It is the manager’s job to keep track of team results. One way that they can do that is to compare the to-do lists with the goals and their results. This allows managers a glimpse into what was happening weeks ago that might have positively or negatively affected the results of the team as a whole.
Were the tasks delegated wisely? Were the time management goals on point, or miscalculated? These comparisons can give clues on what to do, or not do again, to achieve goals next time.
Timeless Skill #5 – Teamwork
Teamwork takes all of the above. Remind your new managers what a team is: a group of people who bring their different skills together to achieve the same goal as each other. So, what is a team but a group of people who are personally invested in the results of the efforts that they, and their team members, put into the goal?
This means that for a team to succeed it is vital to listen to one another, communicate issues and solutions, manage time effectively, create achievable goals, and work together.
Here are a few ways that you can help to build teamwork amongst your organization. For this, also give your managers some creative liberties as they understand their teams better than anyone
Encourage innovation across your organization.
You never know where brilliance gets its start. Therefore, encourage your employees to think innovatively. Give them a chance to offer feedback on solutions to problems. Your staff are often on the ground level and have TONS of valuable insights.
Let morale flourish to create aculture that thrives.
If you want innovation and creativity to flourish then make sure you are snuffing out your teams’ morale before they can even get started. You can do this by exploring non-cash rewards, recognition programs, and any one of dozens of creative ideas out there.
Don’t let managers fix problems with Band-Aids.
Don’t let your managers get into the bad habit of applying Band-Aids instead of fixing problems. One way you can do this is by making sure that you have a network of support for your managers where they can get help solving difficult problems on an open platform.
Building Your Management for a More Positive Future
All of these skills work together to create a strong leadership team. Today’s managing styles are turning more and more towards the Emotional Intelligence model every day. This means that you want to get your managers genuinely involved with your staff, their goals, and their progress.
A positive environment creates a strong business culture that can survive long into the future. When each manager is equipped with the Timeless Five soft skills, they will be more prepared for not just leading their teams, but also handling problems as they arise.
It can be challenging for any management team to try and instill ALL of these skills in their managers, especially as business stays busy. If you are struggling with finding the time to train your managers yourself, consider hiring Encore Consulting Group as your in-house trainers. We specialize in leadership and management training in all of these areas, and more. Give us a call today, or fill out our form, to schedule your free no obligation consultation.