The Top 3 Management Skills to Help Your Company Thrive This Year
Like Dorothy, after a tornado whirled her into an eerily familiar but vastly different environment, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The pandemic turned the business world upside down and dropped us into a landscape with vestiges of the old order grafted into a transformed environment.
Even as organizations regain a sense of normalcy, some things are forever changed. For example, many management methods and priorities that were effective before 2020 are either outdated or need adjustment. As we embark on the post-pandemic era, business leaders must be willing to adapt and alter their management skills to succeed.
Shifting Gears in Management
in a recent Gallup article, Ryan Pendell and Sara Vander Helm noted that “the eternal rules of management still apply, but the field of play has changed.” They outline various management competencies that mean something different in practice in a disrupted and regularly interrupted workplace than they did in 2019. The three most critical skills are:
- Building relationships
- Developing and inspiring employees
- Communicating clearly
In the pre-pandemic days, leaders appreciated the value of internal relationships but didn’t necessarily take responsibility for forging them. Many of these connections formed organically without the leader’s influence when most people worked under the same roof.
Then the health crisis propelled the workplace into a new dimension. Within a few years, the on-site workforce diminished significantly while remote and hybrid job formats became dominant. Now, many team members see each other rarely or not at all. Most people prefer their newfound flexibility, but these modern work models are more isolating and amplify the need for solid work relationships.
Today’s leaders can no longer take for granted that their people are connecting in a productive and meaningful way. From now on, they must be more intentional about helping their organization build relationships.
Sufficient investment in collaborative software is a vital part of this initiative. But leaders must go beyond providing the technological tools for their staff to stay in touch and work together. Access to platforms to connect online isn’t the same as having authentic relationships. Leaders also need to make their staff comfortable establishing meaningful bonds.
First, leaders must create a safe environment where individuals and groups can trust one another enough to form relationships. As Moneypenny CEO Joanna Swash recommended in Forbes,
“Ensure that your workplace has a mental space where people feel safe and valued and are able to speak up without fear of judgment. Lead with empathy, trust and compassion, and work to ensure that this filters through the organization to every manager and team leader.”
After leaders establish a trust-based, transparent community, they can cultivate healthier team connections.
Leaders at every level, from CEOs to supervisors, are uniquely positioned to facilitate relationships and partnerships across the organization to help the team succeed. And creating internal connections and networks pays off, from assisting departments to collaborate more effectively to teaming coworkers who can build on each other’s strengths.
Swash notes, “Connections among your team can affect an organization's resiliency, as well as employees' well-being, engagement, and quality of work.” And Pender and Vander Helm write that these relationships provide employees with “the support they need to perform and the bonds they need to feel energized and resilient.”
Other benefits of healthy relationships at work include:
Team members comfortable sharing ideas and suggestions are more likely to develop creative solutions. And they are better positioned to learn from one another.
Employees who feel connected to and supported by their coworkers are more likely to stay with their organization and become brand ambassadors.
- Understanding and respect
People who get to know their coworkers are more likely to respect them as individuals and understand their intentions, resulting in fewer misunderstandings and conflicts.
Leaders who set the stage and actively help their employees build relationships strengthen organizational unity. And a galvanized team is critical to building a high-performing work culture.
Developing and Inspiring Employees
The pandemic prompted a mass introspection among workers. People reassessed their priorities and how work correlated to what mattered to them most. And they emerged from the crisis with new perspectives about what they wanted out of their jobs. Two of their top requisites were:
- The ability to grow
- Feeling a sense of purpose in their work
CREATING PROFESSIONAL GROWTH PATHS
Today’s workers want employers who challenge them to stretch their abilities and provide opportunities to develop greater expertise. And with rapidly evolving technology and economic changes, they see the need to frequently reskill, upskill, and even change jobs for career advancement.
According to a recent study by Boston-based research firm Workplace Intelligence, 83 percent of workers rank the chance to learn new skills as their top priority for 2023. The study also found that 74 percent are willing to leave their current organization due to a lack of skill-building and career mobility opportunities.
Leaders and managers must recognize their staff’s desire for development and provide them with opportunities to maximize their strengths, learn new skills, and prepare for the organization’s future needs. By doing so, they are giving their employees a chance to grow and demonstrating that they’re integral to the organization’s success.
The leadership skill in this area is looking for and sourcing multiple ways to develop their staff.
These avenues can include fostering:
- Educational programs
Leaders should make providing education programs part of their business strategy. These programs range from offering regular in-house seminars and workshops to setting up apprenticeship programs to subsidizing classes at local or online learning institutions.
- Mentoring protocols
Forward-thinking leaders recognize that transferring knowledge works best when training and development are normalized within a company’s culture. Creating this kind of coaching and learning environment offers many advantages for everyone involved. Newer and younger staff gain growth support and encouragement, and mentors broaden leadership skills.
- Soft skill building
Soft skills are capabilities beyond technical ability, such as decision-making, time management, and emotional intelligence, that allow workers to excel in their jobs. But unfortunately, LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report found that nearly half of learning and development leaders say that soft skill gaps in their organizations are widening. To reverse this trend, leaders should encourage and empower their people to routinely sharpen their soft skills.
Establishing a culture that prioritizes continuous learning and improvement will attract the most talented job candidates looking for career paths. And it will satisfy internal staff who want to grow. As a result, leaders who make educational opportunities part of their organizational fabric will help position their companies to be successful this year and beyond.
THE ABILITY TO INSPIRE AND MOTIVATE
On a deeper level than wanting to develop expertise, post-pandemic workers are looking for meaningful careers. They crave a sense of purpose and want to align themselves with employers with similar values.
Today’s leaders and managers need to be inspirational and motivational to retain and bring out the best in their staff. Many might find that a daunting role, but it’s a vital skill set in what continues to be a highly competitive job market.
Many organizations have what people want, but their leaders often fail to connect the dots for employees. To achieve this goal, they must create a culture that encourages people to exercise these shared values. Additionally, they need to convey to team members how their work helps the company progress.
Leaders should instill a sense of belonging and purpose in their workforce beginning with the hiring process, stressing it further during onboarding, and reinforcing it thereafter. Their goal should be to make each employee feel valued and instrumental in achieving organizational goals.
In addition to inspiring staff members by explaining the importance of their roles, leaders should motivate them by meaningfully recognizing their achievements. To do this effectively, they should regularly acknowledge and explain the impact of people’s accomplishments. Again, this skill ties back into building relationships and staying tuned into what employees do.
Technology skyrocketed during the pandemic as IT firms raced to create solutions for newly remote teams. Yet communication remains problematic in the workplace because technology is only as effective as the humans using it.
Still, the ability to clearly communicate is paramount for organizational success now more than ever as more teams work asynchronously in different locations. That’s why Gallup and other sources consider it an essential skill for leaders to master, model, and teach in 2023.
One of the most basic capabilities is communicating to be understood or, to put it another way, knowing the audience. Leaders need to be able to craft their messages so that their team members pay attention and grasp what they’re trying to get across.
For example, a message broadcast to an entire staff may require different wording than one with the same information shared with the C suite. And usually, the simpler the communication, the more likely it will be fully heard and understood—regardless of the audience. Leaders can avoid confusion and misdirection by developing this skill—especially since most messaging today is done virtually.
Another vital skill is to communicate expectations effectively. A 2018 LinkedIn survey found that the most frustrating quality people detect in leaders and managers is their inability to articulate what they expect from their staff. This problem worsened as remote and hybrid teams meant fewer face-to-face encounters between leaders and direct reports. And it is one of the leading reasons people look for different jobs.
Ensuring everyone is operating on the same frequency saves time, prevents mistakes, and synchronizes operations. Leaders need to learn how to establish expectations with staff so that everyone has the same assumption about outcomes.
Sharing information is another critical skill to develop and teach. Too often, leaders forget or neglect to pass along information that could simplify or speed up others’ work. One way they acquire this habit is to consider who would benefit from possessing this knowledge and how distributing it would improve operations.
People in leadership positions who freely share information inspire their staff to do the same, improving functionality across the board. A leader’s transparency about the status of the organization also helps prevent stress and prevents negative speculation.
Schedule a call with a CultureWise specialist to learn how to build organizational culture that strengthens management skills and creates new generations of leaders.