It seems logical that the best engineer will be the best engineering manager, that the best salesperson will become the best sales manager.
But in fact, a big problem often arises when you promote your best ‘doer’. Doing is not at all like managing. Doing requires the specialised ‘hard skills’ of the role, managing requires ‘soft skills’ as well as these ‘hard skills’ and in fact, the soft skills are the most important ones for a manager to have.
Managing People Very Often Means Solving People Problems
When I ask managers about the most difficult part of their job they invariably say ‘the people’. They, of course, recognise that their people are what enables them to really deliver results for the business. They also say that getting the best out of every person and helping them to work well in the team can be very challenging, and is often stressful and frustrating.
Top Soft Skills For Managers
According to Director of Recruiting at Indeed, Mike Steinerd the 7 important soft skills to look for when appointing a manager and to coach your managers in, are:
1. Communicate effectively
2. Be a team player
3. Be flexible
4. Be resourceful
5. Take feedback well
6. Be confident
7. Think creatively
Every one of these 7 soft skills is critical for success as a manager. As a manager, you will need to apply them frequently.
Keep Improving Your Soft Skills
With mentoring and coaching, and with the manager’s commitment to improving, they can increase the level of those soft skills in which they lag. A manager will often not recognise for him/herself that he/she needs to improve a particular skill, so it is crucial that you give them appropriate feedback.
Equally, your team won’t know they need to improve if you can’t or don’t give quality, effective feedback. Providing this feedback, in a way that will gain the improvements you need, requires a high level of soft skills.
Hard skills are great, but for managers, soft skills are the most critical part of their success. Make sure that you consider these soft skills when you promote someone into management, rather than assuming that because they have a high level of hard skills that they will automatically also have a high level of the soft skills needed for managing a team.
Good managers who effectively practise soft skills create an environment that is conducive to more productive, more motivated and happier employees, and that leads to greater success for the business.
Look at the 7 soft skills and rate yourself on each one. Which do you model extremely well? Which do you need to work on?
Then consider the managers or potential managers who report to you. How do they measure up on each skill? How can you schedule a time to coach them to improve in the soft skills they are less competent and less confident in?