In today’s VUCA (Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, a manager is tasked with the important responsibility of not only understanding what is going on but also giving a definite direction to the proceedings.
As you might imagine, this is not an easy task at all. As a job role, it demands agility, mental resilience, and being able to pick up the slack of those who work under you or within your team. Of course, MBA degree from an authorized institute can improve your management skills as well. So if you’ve set yourself a goal to become a manager, read on to find out what skills are absolutely essential for you to develop to become a manager!
1. Effective Project Management
Every team is comprised of various kinds of people. Some are talkative, while others can be reticent. Some might be extremely eager to contribute, while others might be held back and unwilling to share their opinion.
This is where a manager plays an important role. A manager needs to have enough emotional intelligence to navigate these scenarios, so that they can enable people to achieve their best. This not only means listening to them when they have something to say, it also means giving feedback, and communicating to each person on the team that their values, although relative, are equally important and respected. This is no doubt the toughest thing to manage for some people, but once you have developed this skill, it will be with you for life.
2. Understanding the Financial Aspects
Each company has its financial reports – profit and loss, balance sheet, as well as other annual reports. As a manager, you will be expected to understand these reports and make sense of them – if a particular quarter has gone better than expectations, why has that happened? If one particular element has suffered, why is that? These are things you will have to learn on the go, even if you have not had a financial background to begin with.
Not only this, you will have to make budgets and do forecasting as well – these are trickier parts of the game, to be fair, but with enough time and experience, this too will come naturally to you. After all, a company is significantly motivated by its business bottom line, if not entirely motivated by it, and you too will have to play your part!
3. Be a Positive Force
As a manager, you will be responsible for pushing people to achieve their best. Often, this will mean that you have very little to work with – since, after all, you cannot exactly control how motivated another person feels.
Not only this, but you will also have to work with multiple teams, and this will include people in different departments as well. To ensure that they implement your strategy, you will have to convince them that your vision is achievable and that there is something in it for them as well. You will have to get them to buy in your goals. Moreover, there will always be internal politics as well – and sometimes people will just block your progress for no good reason.
This is why you must have a positive impact on your colleagues. You have to make sure that you align your vision with theirs, so that, at the end of the day, they can be happy with the knowledge that they are working with like-minded people. It will only drive them to work harder!
5. Effective Communication
A manager is often a pivot of communication across an entire organization. Sometimes the task becomes to communicate with senior management, while at other times the task is to explain their vision to your team. In such a scenario, it is crucial to keep in mind the original though that inspired something, and then communicate it to the others in the most faithful rendition possible.
As long as people understand where you are coming from, and what you are explaining to them, things are bound to be good. Often, you will have to be diplomatic, but that will not make so much of a difference as it will to explain to somebody why you think they have done something wrong (if that’s the case) or why you are praising them – which is another important act, since acknowledging people’s achievements is also a big part of a manager’s role.
6. Being Able to Negotiate
Negotiation is the other side of communication – while communication relies on the other person seeing your point of view, negotiation is basically the same thing, only there is a tradeoff involved. And if the other person agrees with your take, then you have sufficiently convinced them to see things from your perspective.
As a manager, you will have to negotiate with business partners, clients, suppliers, and sometimes even colleagues as well. Being able to negotiate effectively – not pushing too hard, yet not being too easy – will determine how effective you are as a manager in these situations. The comforting truth is that, even in these situations, the more experience you have, the better you get – so, practice is the key!
7. Understanding the Company’s Big Picture
When you have spent enough time interacting with different teams and departments, you will come to the realisation that most departments are not communicating with each other; however, as an effective manager, you will need to see how one team or department influences another. Once you have managed to do this, you will be able to see how you can play a role in influencing this.
The basic understanding needs to be that everybody contributes to the growth and success of a company. The quicker you are able to understand this, the better you will be able to make decisions that create a positive impact on the inter-related roles that all departments play. You will be able to make sense of overall strategies, financial goals, as well as understand how marketing and sales impact the bottom line. Without understanding how the company works as one body with multiple organs, you will never become a phenomenal manager.
So, when all is set and done, it is important to know what a manager’s role is, as much as it is crucial to know who a manager is expected to be. While a manager’s role may include making projections and schedules, a manager is expected to be someone who motivates the team and ensures that every task they get is tackled with courage and levity.
Of course, you will not get these skills overnight. You will have to work hard to develop them and once you’ve attained them, they will require constant polishing so that you always perform to the best of your capabilities. But at the end of the day, the rewards will be yours for the taking – so the arduous journey will no doubt be worth it! But, don’t just be a regular manager. Be something better. Be a data-driven manager with a new-age MBA from NMIMS for continuing education. Check out the MBA Executive course from upGrad.