What separates good managers from great ones? It's not their knowledge of the business, that's for sure. In fact, one of the most important skills to being a great manager isn't knowing your numbers or your industry—it's managing people. Managing people isn't always easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding if you have the right attitude and skill set. Here are nine skills all great managers need to know to be successful at managing their team members, from interns to veterans.
1. Use data collection in decision making
To dole out effective feedback, you need facts. There are few things in business that are more valuable than data, especially when making decisions around staffing and managing people. You can't go on hunches; you need numbers. But don't just collect data for data's sake; make sure it serves a specific purpose or improves your managerial decision-making process.
2. How to motivate people
The key to success as a manager is your ability to get people motivated. The best way to accomplish that is by leading through effective delegation and goal-setting. When you delegate, you break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, making it easier for employees to see how their work fits your company's overall goals. By setting clear expectations for performance and showing employees how their work contributes to those goals, you can help them feel more invested in their jobs—and they'll be more likely to put in extra effort when they know what's expected of them.
3. Basic time management skills
You can't be a great manager without knowing how to manage your time. Take stock of what's getting in your way, and start working toward carving out more time for you and your team—whether that means working late, waking up early, or not checking email before noon. And then follow through with it.
4. Managing yourself under pressure
To be a successful manager, you must also be a leader. And to be a good leader, you must know how to manage yourself under pressure. Take time before stressful situations—especially those that get you worked up or affect your mood—to practice managing your emotions and calming yourself down. To help you do so effectively, set aside some quiet time at home when nobody else is around; go into a room and close the door if necessary.
5. Delegation skills are a must-have
If you want your employees to work as hard as they can, you have to know when and how best to delegate. There's an art form to delegation—too much delegation makes an employee feel like a doormat; too little delegation creates a bottleneck in productivity. First, figure out what each of your employees is best at doing to get it right. Then set clear expectations for what needs to be done (and by whom). Finally, check-in with them regularly to make sure they're on track with their goals.
6. Dealing with difficult team members
The first thing to realize when managing a difficult team member is that, often, they're not really difficult. They're hardworking and professional on all levels except one: they suck at dealing with their coworkers. No matter how professional you are as a manager, your coworkers probably aren't. If you want your business's daily operations to run smoothly, learn how to manage that difficult coworker by following these steps.
7. Setting goals and managing them well
Setting your team's goals should be a collaborative process that creates a united team. Make sure everyone understands what your vision is and how they fit into it. Once you've set them, regularly check in with your employees so you can check if their goals are aligned with yours.
8. Managing remote teams is hard but possible
Working with remote teams requires a unique set of skills, but they aren't impossible. If you understand what your team members can and can't do while working from home or remotely, you'll be able to identify potential roadblocks, mitigate risks and accomplish more. The most important thing is to communicate regularly—and it doesn't have to be in person. You can use tools like Skype, Google Hangouts and Slack to stay connected with your employees wherever they are. The most successful managers make sure their employees know how much they are valued by checking in on projects regularly and asking for updates throughout each step of development—even if it's just an email every few days.
9. Learn constantly
The best managers are constantly evolving, whether leaning on other coworkers, taking a course online, or reading a book. No matter what your level in management is, never stop learning and growing as an individual so you can provide better guidance for your team.
The Bottom Line
You can't lead a team if you don't know how to delegate tasks, prioritize projects, or talk about what it is your team does. When you become a manager, it becomes your job—no matter how small or large your business—to make sure that everything is running smoothly and efficiently. A great way to do that is by asking for feedback from your team members and communicating openly with them.