Improve management skills with mentoring
With countless articles, books, and podcasts dedicated to tips on how to deal with bad bosses, strict micro-managers, and toxic workplaces, it seems like the corporate world is plagued with bad managers.
That’s because management is a skill that companies don’t often pay attention to until it’s too late. Employees often become managers because they are good at performing their jobs. Companies reward them with leadership positions without considering whether they possess the right attributes (or skills) to be an effective manager.
This can lead to inefficient practices and high turnover rates. To avoid this fate, companies must give employees the training, experience and mentoring they need to develop good management skills.
What are management skills?
When it comes to management, there isn’t one skill that will transform a worker from a great employee to a great manager. A manager is ultimately responsible for the performance of their team, but in many instances, also holds a great deal of influence over the team members’ wellbeing and livelihoods. Excelling at and fulfilling multiple responsibilities require a multitude of skills.
Examples of management skills
Management skill #1: Clear communication & active listening
The first (and perhaps most important) skill managers need to have is the ability to communicate clearly and listen actively. A manager needs to provide direction to their team to ensure they’re on the right track to achieve the team’s objectives. That involves communicating clearly and concisely with as few misunderstandings as possible.
If misunderstandings arise, the onus is on the manager to comprehend the employee’s point of view and then deliver the message in a way that the employee understands. Doing this requires the manager to actively listen to the employee in a way that improves mutual understanding moving forward.
Management skill #2 – Delegating tasks
Going above and beyond an employee’s job responsibility may help an employee get promoted to manager, but once they become a manager, holding on to work becomes a recipe for exhaustion.
Managers need to master the art of delegation to do their jobs properly—assigning tasks and providing high-level inputs and help when necessary. As Global Head of People Leadership Development at Salesforce Jesse Sostrin wrote in a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, a manager needs to be “more essential, but less involved.” That doesn’t mean holding on to work, but empowering and activating those around them.
Management skill #3 – Coaching and mentoring
Research by Gallup shows that a manager is responsible for 70% of a team’s engagement. Many managers use the top-down, command and control approach, but this doesn’t inspire employees to perform at their best. Doing that requires them to dig deep into what motivates their employees, their strengths and weaknesses, and coach and mentor their team members in a way that aligns with each person individually.
Management skill #4 – Conflict resolution
Conflict is inevitable anytime a group of humans works together, so a manager must know how to manage this. It’s important to note that a good manager doesn’t avoid conflict but rather facilitates discussions and conversations between parties who might disagree with one another. A great manager should help those parties come to some form of mutual understanding.
Management skill #5 – Flexibility
A good manager doesn’t implement a one-size-fits-all solution. They understand that workers have different motivations, needs, and constantly changing life circumstances, and consider those realities when communicating and managing specific employees. And as the events of 2020 have shown, managers also need to be able to adapt to changing realities of worklife, homelife and all that lies in between.
How to develop management skills
Companies who want their employees to develop management skills before they become managers need to prioritize the following:
Mastering any skill starts with training. Companies can benefit from setting up a formal training program around what it takes to be a great manager and making it available to every employee, regardless of whether or not they have managerial ambitions. That way, employees know what to expect if they get promoted to a managerial role. And as a bonus, research by SHRM shows 76 percent of employees say they’re more likely to stay with a company that provides continuous training.
The next step after training is providing opportunities for these employees to translate their knowledge into hands-on experience. There are many aspects of management that an employee can practice in a low-stakes environment, whether that’s facilitating a team meeting or leading an internal project.
As companies are providing training and experience, they need to develop their employees to maximize their chance of retaining them and encourage them to want to be managers. Pairing employees together to learn from one another through mentoring can be an effective way to do this.
How can mentoring enhance management skills?
The primary way mentoring can transform employees to become effective managers is by providing them with continuous opportunities to connect with others, while honing a wide range of skills. Examples of how mentoring can elevate management skills include:
Building and fostering relationships
Mentoring provides an opportunity for employees to build and foster professional relationships. Whether through learning a specific skill in mentoring circles program, or a more traditional one-on-one buddy program for new hires, mentoring allows employees to get out of their silos and network with people at a different stages career-wise, or from another department altogether. Being in a mentoring relationship teaches people how to build rapport and build trust, something that is vitally important to becoming a good people manager.
Growing industry knowledge through employee training and development
Employees who want to become managers need to be up to date on developments in their field and industries. A mentoring program that focuses on career development can ensure an employee is always learning—and even upskilling—as necessary. In these instances, flash mentoring can be extremely helpful because it allows employees to learn on an as-needed basis, based on the skills gaps present in their organizations. Having access to these opportunities means workers can acquire a broad range of skills before they become managers, or in order to meet the competency level of a manager position.
Bolstering critical thinking
Making progress in any endeavor means not being stagnant. Mentoring can expose employees to opportunities that hone their critical thinking skills, allowing them to learn new ways of doing things.
A manager will inevitably face challenges like dealing with unfamiliar circumstances and making big decisions that can significantly impact a team or the company. Mentoring can give high-potential employees a chance to test themselves in challenging situations, which will inevitably build their confidence in their decision making capabilities.
Motivating employees and handling conflict resolution
Mentoring can help employees understand what it’s like to be a leader and handle conflict in a low-stakes environment. Part of a company’s leadership development program may involve the mentee taking on an internal project that requires them to liaise with different departments and employees from other teams. Through that process, they can practice communication skills to help them learn how to motivate others when the time requires, as well as handling sensitive conversations and potentially resolving conflicts. When it comes to improving communication skills, having the opportunity to practice can make all the difference.
Learning new time management skills
Finally, transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager will inevitably mean juggling multiple responsibilities at once. Mentoring can help employees improve their time management skills, whether that’s completing a task provided by their mentor or working on a stretch assignment, alongside the remainder of their day-to-day work.They can learn how to switch their focus effectively without sacrificing productivity.
Fast track management training and development with mentoring
Ultimately, implementing a mentoring program can help equip your employees with management skills long before they become managers. When you have good managers, you can improve company culture, better engage employees, increase productivity, and improve your financial performance.
Chronus can help your company design a mentoring strategy that enables your employees to cultivate their management skills at any stage of the employee journey. With AI-powered technology, you can be confident in effective mentor/mentee matching that produces productive relationships and impactful results.
In using an award-winning mentoring platform, you’ll also be able to integrate the platform with your communication or collaboration platform of choice, so that employees can take advantage of the opportunities mentoring provides, whether they’re in-office, remote, or hybrid.
A bad manager is costly to your company. Don’t wait until you see the consequences of one to do something about it. Start ensuring you’re developing the managers of tomorrow, with the proper management skills today.