2020 brought nothing but challenges to businesses and organisations all over the world. With the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus and the health and economic crises it caused, everyone has to step up just to make it through the turmoil.
But even if we assume that everything will be brought under control in the coming months, the rest of 2021 still presents unique challenges for organisations aiming to recover from the setbacks caused by the global health crisis. In order to respond to these challenges, what management skills do you need to develop?
What is team management?
The role team managers play in the growth and survival of a business cannot be emphasised enough, especially when it comes to employee satisfaction and retention. Indeed, when employees don’t feel their work is recognised, they look for new opportunities elsewhere.
Some 21.5% of employees who reported they don’t feel recognised when they do great work have interviewed for a job in the last three months, compared to just 12.4% who do feel recognised.
Team management is a manager or organisation’s ability to lead a group of people in accomplishing a task or common goal. Effective team management involves supporting, communicating with and uplifting team members so they perform to the best of their abilities and continue to grow as professionals.
Unfortunately, many managers aren’t as equipped to handle the job as one might think — at least without significant training. Most people who are promoted to managerial positions are those who excel at their current, non-management jobs.
That means that in many cases, they have no managerial experience, and will need to learn fast or watch their team’s morale suffer.
Despite these realities, management training is surprisingly uncommon: lots of new managers are simply pushed into the deep end without much support. It goes without saying that this is a mistake.
If you want to avoid these pitfalls, here are the 10 essential management skills you must be training your leadership team for in 2021.
Why Is team management important?
Team management is important for a number of reasons within the workplace:
- It promotes a unified approach to leadership within a company or team, especially when team building is implemented.
- It makes it easier to solve problems through the implementation of negotiating and critical thinking.
- It encourages open communication between managers and team members and emphasises good communication skills and active listening.
- It ensures managers and team members are working toward a common goal that has been clearly defined.
It helps managers clearly outline the roles and expectations for their team members.
Understanding the importance of team management and working to develop your team management skills can help you be the most effective leader possible. The more effective you are at managing your team, the more successful your team will be within the workplace.
10 Essential management skills for 2021
Most of us know that empathy is all about putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, in order to understand what they’re thinking and feeling. Does this matter in business?
This is really something that is very important in many business situations, whether it is about understanding your clients, understanding your team members, understanding your negotiation partners, and understanding the markets.
Empathy is crucial during times of crisis when so many people are struggling. It’s also key to producing the kinds of connections with colleagues that can generate much-needed innovation. Empathetic leaders know how to create an atmosphere in which all of their team members – not just a few – come forward with ideas.
They know how to engage with team members who are different from themselves because of culture, or background, or personality, or age.
Our context has changed so much that many companies find themselves very fundamentally rethinking their business models. Businesses need a lot of innovation.
Businesses tend to repeat things that have worked well in the past. But the year 2021, for sure, is not going to be a year that is going to be similar to anything before. To respond, managers will have to show mental flexibility, or a willingness to do things differently – even if the way they operated in the past was very successful.
Flexibility is a no brainer. Either you are flexible or you die. Because there is no way that organisations can navigate the situation without re-examining our way of doing things.
That can involve asking for inputs from people who are very different from yourself in terms of background, knowledge and ideas – just as an empathetic leader would.
It’s also having the self-awareness to recognise that you are probably invested in the way you work – you’ve developed the habits, knowledge, processes and technology to do things the way you’re doing them now.
In some ways, learning agility incorporates both empathy and flexibility. Learning agility is a mental model or a mindset and also a set of practices. Companies will need to change their strategies, change their business models, and take into consideration many more external factors and trends than they ever had to before. Learning agility will be an incredibly important aspect of being successful in that.
Here are the different components of learning agility:
- Mental agility – openness to other perspectives and to complexity.
- People agility – ability to work with diverse people and stakeholders.
- Results agility – the ability to deliver results the first time you are in a situation or in the midst of a crisis.
- Change agility – how quickly you can adapt to shifting situations.
- Self-awareness – knowing your strengths and weaknesses and understanding what types of experiences and learnings you should expose yourself to in order to grow.
Since 2021 and beyond will be years of intense decision-making for managers, it’s essential to know how to use data to assist in the process. The key benefit of data-driven decision-making is that it removes and reduces the importance of, or the effect of, human biases, of human emotions, from the decision-making.
For managers, that begins with identifying the data needed and ensuring that it’s being collected reliably and systematically. It requires an understanding of what information can be obtained from data and what cannot, as well as clearly identifying what purpose data collection will serve.
Having those more objective measures, rather than relying on human intuition or emotions, can help produce better decisions. But it’s not solely about recognising patterns in the past and making decisions based on those. Instead, you can use data going forward, by using A/B testing tools and experimentation to show you what’s most effective.
The demand for greater flexibility after COVID-19 goes far beyond allowing employees to work from home, or incorporating more digital elements.
We are going to need flexibility in all areas within the company and we need to start getting used to this new concept of frugality, which means utilising resources in the most efficient way. This is all about doing more and better with fewer resources.
That translates into an entirely new approach to budgets, which have tended to replicate those of past years, with minimal adjustments, in static 12-month cycles. Companies should go into the details of all the costs and resources and just start from zero. Start from scratch.
In addition, companies should have rolling budgets that are adjusted at various points throughout the year. The forecasts that budgets are based on should also be adjusted according to changing realities, Soler says.
Communication when managing a team is crucial. Companies and organisations that communicate effectively are significantly more likely to retain the best employees.
While this skill comes naturally to a lucky few, most people need training to get their communication skills up to management level.
Pro tip: while face-to-face communication is essential, you can use work scheduling tools such as ZoomShift to make your communication as effective and non-disruptive as possible.
In 2021, effective communication means being tech-savvy and communicating with team members – many of whom are now digital natives – in ways they are comfortable and familiar with.
There’s management, and then there’s remote management. While the two concepts have a good amount of crossover, managing someone who’s in front of you for eight hours a day, and managing someone you rarely see are two different skill sets.
Remote work has skyrocketed in popularity in the last few years, and the trend continues to snowball. Managers with remote workers on their team need to monitor user activity effectively, while improving their communication and technology skills to ensure those employees still feel engaged and part of a dedicated team.
Fortunately, there are several tools, such as TeamViewer and Zoom, that make remote management a lot easier.
The “do what I say not what I do” management style is old hat these days.
Collaboration allows you to harness the range of skills and perspectives on your team and combine these with your management prowess for the best outcomes. Failing to do so can negatively affect your team’s workflow.
Indeed, as a manager, it’s not just about collaborating with your team – it’s about managing collaboration within your team.
Problem solving is a crucial ability for any team leader, but falls under sales team management skills in particular. Clients often adhere to the axiom, “the customer is always right” or expect all companies to embody Burger King’s famous slogan, “have it your way.” As a result, leads request special accommodations and sales managers must strike a balance between satisfying the client while operating within the realm of possibility.
In an ideal situation, staff use good judgment to solve problems without managerial input, but realistically, most employees need to observe conflict resolution in action to identify the optimal approach. Plus, team leaders usually have more experience than teammates and exhibit the ability to consider issues from multiple perspectives, enabling them to choose more practical solutions.
You can develop problem solving skills by doing problem solving activities, as well as digital escape games and online murder mysteries.
Organisation is an essential skill for team leaders, and one of the most pivotal cross-functional team management skills. Projects and collaborations consist of many moving parts and individual contributions, and without a well-ordered system, leaders may overlook important details.
Well-organised team leaders keep teammates on task, executives informed, and operations running smoothly. Managers with a clear plan know when to schedule meetings, where to find critical information, and who to check in with for updates. The resulting sense of calm and control inspires confidence and puts collaborators at ease.
One way to organise teamwork is by using project management software. Another approach is to recruit a competent assistant to gather and manage information. However, each manager has a preferred organisational method, such as spreadsheets, to-do lists, or daily scheduled housekeeping rituals.
This list from Entrepreneur Magazine lays out more productivity and organisational tips for managers.
Leading a team requires more than a title. By expanding team management competencies, leaders build a toolkit capable of fixing any issue. Honing team leadership skills prevents problems and conflicts that cause delay and doubts.
The idea of a “born leader” is largely a myth. Most leaders mindfully develop expertise and abilities over time, either through practice or outside education. Either way, while some folks possess natural leadership inclinations, leadership is not a set quality or characteristic as much as an intentional action, and a repeated one at that.
About the Author
As a Journalist by profession, April Reyes has extensive experience in writing about various topics under the sun, including technology, gadgets, travel, social media, and digital marketing. If she’s not writing articles for Software Tested, she’s either watching her favourite TV series or playing video games.