Where To Focus Your Management Development

Top 5 Skills For Middle & Line Managers

Company strategy – the goals for your organisation’s direction and growth – is put in place by the business owners and stakeholders. The day-to-day operation of your business is accomplished by the workers and technicians. The people in-between these two layers of your business are the ones who will have to actually implement those strategies by putting in place procedures, setting targets and leading the workers to achieve them. With that in mind, and drawing on our 20 years’ experience of working with businesses to improve competencies and develop management skills, here’s 5 crucial sets of management skills that your middle managers will need to effectively perform their functions.

The Soft Skills

Managing self – every manager should be able to do this, obviously. However, when you promote an effective person to a higher role in your organisation, the environment can change significantly. The manager should be able to deal with this change (and the inevitable stress that must result) by systematically identifying job roles and responsibilities. Time management and organisational skills are also important.
Managing customers – customers are the lifeblood of any business, and middle & line managers should set the tone for the entire organisation in dealing with them. Crucially, managers should be able to quickly and accurately identify every customer’s needs and expectations, and implement procedures to accomplish them. They should also have the organisational skill to examine the quality of outcomes and outputs, and implement organisational efficiencies to maximise this.
Managing people – customers aren’t the only people your management will be dealing with. Your managers will have to effectively lead their staff on a day-to-day basis. The need to be able to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships, to effectively maintain discipline and motivation over the course of projects. They will have to be able to identify necessary developmental needs within their team, and offer effective mentoring. All of this must be accomplished against a background of constantly measured and effectively managed performance.

The Technical Skills 

Managing budgets – this is another crucial element of any managers repertoire of skills. A good manager needs to have an effective cost awareness at all times, and be able to identify practical management information within that. This is extremely important in the context of making a business case for various projects. They also, obviously, need to be able to put in place practical and effective cost controls at various stages of any project, which in itself requires effective measurement of finances.
Managing operations – this is another crucial skill (or set of skills, really). Managers are often promoted internally within organisations, so that someone who has displayed efficiency in one role often finds themselves appointed to another. Not every role is the same however, so not every role requires the same skillset. In order to effectively manage a team in a role that they may not have occupied before, managers should be able to effectively analyse systems and procedures for quality and profitability and to identify waste and potential improvements in supply chains and existing procedures.

Peter Drucker said that “management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things”. It may seem a Jesuitical distinction, but the important thing to take from it is this – you can learn to do new things. If management is simply doing things right, then you can train managers to excellence.