Acquiring and demonstrating management skills can help you advance in your career. These skills can help you successfully oversee a project, department or business as well as help you supervise and motivate employees. In this article, we define what management skills are and teach you how to gain and demonstrate them.
What are management skills?
Management skills are the abilities and attributes that help people in leadership positions succeed and achieve the goals and objectives of an organisation. Management skills fall into two main categories: hard and soft skills.
People learn hard management skills through educational programs, training schemes and independent study. It's important to note that hard management skills may vary depending on the manager's position and the industry in which they work. For example, a software engineering manager would need strong coding skills to help troubleshoot challenges.
People develop soft management skills over time through on-the-job experiences. These skills are transferable between industries, rather than being specific to a certain role or sector. While soft management skills come more naturally to some people than others, everyone can develop these skills with practise.
Examples of management skills
The best managers have a well-rounded skill set. Their diverse skills help them lead effectively while getting the best results from their employees. Browsing these examples could help you identify key management skills you already have and ones that you could work on further developing:
- Leadership skills
- Planning skills
- Communication skills
- Organisational skills
- Hard skills
Leadership skills are soft skills that managers will need to supervise and motivate their employees. These skills can help you lead meetings, delegate tasks and support collaboration across teams and departments within your organisation. Leadership skills may also involve training and assessing employees to maintain performance standards.
Common leadership skills that managers have include:
- Constructive criticism
- Delegating tasks
- Relationship management
- Task delegation
- Team building
As a manager, it's your responsibility to develop business strategies for your team. As a result, it's important to have strong planning skills to help you set goals and determine the most efficient path to meet your objectives. Planning skills can also help you identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments for future strategies as needed. For example, if challenges arise, such as inefficient processes or not meeting financial goals, these skills help you find ways to resolve them.
Common examples of planning skills include:
- Business development
- Conflict resolution
- Critical thinking
- Logical thinking
- Strategic thinking
To effectively lead people and projects, managers must be able to understand the needs and goals of the business and accurately convey this information to their team. Well-developed communication skills will ensure you're able to translate the most accurate information to the right people at the right time. Great communicators actively listen, retain information well and pass it on efficiently to others.
Common communication skills include:
- Active listening
- Building relationships
- Interpersonal communication
- Public speaking
- Verbal communication
- Written communication
As a manager, you'll have to balance many tasks at the same time. Often, this means overseeing multiple projects, deadlines and events such as meetings, conferences and presentations. Excellent organisational skills will help you stay on top of your work, reduce stress, prevent you and your team from missing critical dates and ensure you can find information when you need it most. Staying organised will also help improve your workflow and make sure you're able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible.
Common organisational skills for managers include:
- Deadline management
- Event coordination
- Goal setting
- Office management
- Project management
- Time management
It is also important for managers to develop hard skills that are relevant to their industry or role. Since managers gain hard skills through technical knowledge or training, they are not always transferable. As a result, it can be difficult for managers to switch industries or roles as they would need to develop new, relevant hard skills through education or training. Some hard skills managers have include:
Contract management (for project managers)
- Budgeting (for finance managers)
- Food safety knowledge (for hospitality managers)
- Reading architectural plans (for construction managers)
- Trend analysis (for sales managers)
To help you identify what kinds of hard skills managers in your industry would need, it can be a good idea to read job descriptions for the types of roles you would be interested in. If you're looking to switch industries, this can also help you gain insights into the skills you would need to develop.
How to gain management skills
Developing strong management skills can help you secure a management position in your field, or help you gain more responsibility in your current role. Here are a few steps you can follow to develop strong management skills.
- Focus on self-management
- Volunteer for leadership roles at work
- Volunteer in your community
- Get a mentor
- Ask for feedback
- Study management online
1. Focus on self-management
Before attempting to manage others, work on managing yourself. You can apply many of the skills required to manage others to your life and career. For example, you can create a budget and track how you stick to it to practise your financial management skills. Or, you can work on constructive criticism by evaluating your performance at work and providing yourself with positive and negative feedback as if you were your manager.
2. Volunteer for leadership roles at work
Seize any opportunity to show leadership in the office. You could volunteer to lead a new project or a meeting or mentor a new employee. These experiences can teach you a variety of hard and soft skills that managers need.
3. Volunteer in your community
Many charities or non-profit organisations rely on volunteers to take on leadership roles. Consider your skills and interests to find a volunteer role that would be the best fit for you. For example, if you play cricket, you could volunteer to coach a children's team. If you are passionate about charity, you could volunteer to lead a fundraising drive.
4. Get a mentor
Having a mentor who is in a management role and can share their experiences with you can be a great way to develop your management skills. For example, learning about their different managerial duties can help prepare you for a position in management. Your mentor can teach you about some of the challenges they face in their role and how they overcome them, which can help you improve your problem-solving skills. Your mentor may even invite you to share some of their duties, providing you with hands-on management experience.
5. Ask for feedback
Feedback from your colleagues and manager can help you identify your existing management skills and skills you need to work on to become a better manager. Ask your colleagues why they think you would make a good manager and have your supervisor assess your skills during your employee evaluation. This process can also teach you about the skills you do not have that you can work on, because people can often see qualities that you cannot see in yourself. It's important to accept both positive and negative feedback as constructive criticism that can help you grow.
6. Study management online
The rise in online education makes it easy to gain more qualifications while working. Business management and project management are broad courses that teach skills most managers need. If you want to work in a specific field, you may consider a more specialised course. For example, you could study finance management, event management or sales management. Make sure to speak to your supervisor first, as they may reimburse your tuition fees or let you take time off around exams.
How to promote your management skills
Once you have acquired and developed excellent management skills, you should promote them. This helps you secure a management role or receive more responsibilities in your current role. You can demonstrate your management skills using these steps:
- Keep your manager informed
- Form relationships with senior managers
- Note management experience and skills on your resume
- Expand on management experience during interviews
1. Keep your manager informed
Tell your manager about the skills you have developed and how they will fit in with your career goals. Keep them informed about the way you are managing projects and how you have overcome challenges as managers might sometimes overlook the achievements of individual employees in fast-paced office settings. Taking time to share your accomplishments with your manager helps ensure they notice your work and may encourage them to promote you when advancement opportunities arise.
2. Form relationships with senior managers
Make sure senior managers within your organisation know who you are. Introduce yourself at social functions and discuss your work within the company. Ask your manager whether you can lead meetings or oversee small projects to demonstrate your skills. A proactive approach keeps you in upper management's thoughts when they consider promoting within.
3. Note management experience and skills on job applications
Note any skills and management experience on your resume and cover letter. Even minor management opportunities, such as training new employees or filling in for your manager when they are on holiday, can set your application apart. Include a combination of the hard and soft skills you developed to demonstrate your management experience. Remember to include examples from your employment history as well as any volunteer work. Including volunteer work in your resume is a great way to showcase the relevant skills you developed outside of your day-to-day job.
4. Expand on management experience during interviews
Job interviews allow you to expand on the points in your resume and cover letter. During your interview, give the hiring manager more detailed accounts of your management experience and mention any challenges you faced and how you addressed them. For example, if two members of a project team disagreed, you could explain to the hiring manager how you helped them work together. This helps demonstrate your conflict resolution skills.