Top 6 Skills Every New Manager Needs

Whether you’re a new or aspiring manager, here are the top 6 skills that leaders from a range of industries believe are the most important for you to succeed.

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Develop the skills to shine as a leader!

Are you starting a new role as a manager? Or have you recently been promoted to a management role? Whether you’re settling into your first management position or you’re an aspiring manager, this article highlights the top 6 skills that you’ll need to succeed. 

While it’s exciting to climb the professional ladder, you could also feel the pressure of taking on new responsibilities. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember: managing people is a skill — and with practice, the right tools, and patience, you’ll become better over time.  

We asked managers and leaders from across a range of fields which top skills are most important for new managers. Read on to learn what you should focus on as a new manager and why. 

#1. Communication skills

As a leader, one of your main tasks is to keep things running smoothly and avoid misunderstandings. This involves relaying information and ideas to different groups of people including your team, superiors and external stakeholders. You will therefore need clear and reciprocal communication skills. 

As Deborah Goldberg, Team Leader for an auto insurance site, puts it: “It is not enough to be good at your job yourself; you also need to be able to help those below you do their jobs as well. This requires you to understand different communication styles and clarification needs.” 

While communication skills are important for any employee, anyone in a management position requires a bit more especially when they are doing performance review meetings and one-on-one meetings. For example, employees differ in how they absorb information and express themselves. Thus, as a manager, learning how to best communicate with each individual will increase mutual understanding and the chances of your team’s success.    

If communication skills aren’t your strong point, they can be learned through communication skills courses and training

#2. Active listening skills

As a new manager, you will find that there are times when you might be faced with resolving the conflicting aims of achieving some company goals and accommodating certain individuals.  Active listening will help you strike the right balance by helping you negotiate and compromise effectively. 

Sto Adams, Chief Developer at M.E. Investments & Holdings, says, “Leadership isn't just about making other people follow, it's about considering the perspectives of others to improve the workplace/project for all.”  

So, take the time to truly listen to your team. Not only will it make you more relatable and approachable, but it will also show your commitment as a manager. Listening actively to your team’s needs creates space for open dialogue and problem-solving. 

For example, if you’re having an online meeting, close all of your other tabs to stay focused on what your employee is saying. Also, let someone speak without interrupting. These gestures can contribute to building respect and team resilience, which in turn will facilitate a comfortable environment for conflict resolution. 

#3. Empathy

A valuable soft skill for new managers is having the ability to express and understand emotions. By showing compassion, you form connection, trust, and rapport with your employees. In turn, team member loyalty is nurtured with genuine care and appreciation.  Empathy can also help you to remain calm and patient under high-pressure situations. 

“Too many times, managers care more about the end than they do the means,” says Bret Bonnet, President of Quality Logo Products, Inc.  “Managers who are most successful know how to relate to their team members. Caring and understanding go a long way in earning your team’s confidence.

If an employee is struggling with a task, a manager can respond empathically by trying to see things from their perspective. They can then convey understanding and offer guidance from a place of compassion rather than blame or frustration.

If you would like to improve how you relate to your team, browse emotional intelligence training courses  and learn how to create a culture where all employees feel valued, respected and empowered to collaborate.     

#4. Delegation skills

The ability to delegate is an important managerial skill that can greatly affect team structure and keep things running smoothly. Delegation involves identifying and prioritizing important issues, and using organization and project management as a solution strategy. This will help you address obstacles head-on and avoid micromanaging. Managers can hire virtual assistants(VAs) or other specialists to delegate all types of tasks through job portals or VA agencies.

“You need to be extremely aware of which of your employees excels at a certain kind of work, how they handle pressure and in general, what the quality of their work is,” Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals, explains. “Once you know this, you’ll become better at assigning the right tasks to the right people and you’ll become a much better manager.” 

#5. Motivation Skills

As a manager, you are in a great position to be a role model and lead your team with passion. Inspire your team by engaging with enthusiasm and providing feedback in a way that keeps the team moving forward and gives others purpose in their work. Channeling your excitement through to the team will assist your team in reaching goals and implementing strategy. After all, positivity can be contagious. 

“Motivating your employees and giving them the support they need to get their work done will help to foster productivity, job satisfaction, performance, and the overall success of your new team and the company at large,” says Paul French, Managing Director of Intrinsic Search.

#6. Humility 

Last but not least, remember that you won’t be a perfect manager right away. You won’t always have the answer to everything. You’ll make mistakes sometimes.  And that’s okay: in fact, it’s important. The way you own and accept these mistakes will set the standard for your team. 

“Accept and celebrate mistakes. When you slip up, share it with your team to show that you are human too,” Jordan Smyth, CEO & Founder of Gleamin, says. “You want to encourage initiative, but that will only happen if team members feel comfortable making mistakes.” 

Make it clear to your team that you’re learning along the way; be transparent, and it's likely that your team will be more receptive to constructive criticism.  This will lead to growth in your role and most importantly, to your team’s growth. Because when you succeed, your team succeeds.   

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Additional reading on the key skills to develop at different stages of your career: