To be successful as a senior manager, you need to be constantly improving and learning new leadership skills. Regardless of who you are or what your current title is, there are plenty of resources that can help you do this. There are workshops for students, seminars for employees, executive coaching and many more.
To help you develop your management credentials and capabilities, here are six skills every senior manager needs.
- Be an expert in your field
Nowadays, we hear a lot about the importance of “soft skills.” While such skills are crucial to being a good leader, nothing can replace job-specific experience. To be a successful senior manager, you need to be an expert in your particular field. Having the relevant experience will allow you to make informed decisions as a leader. You will be familiar with the common pitfalls in a certain field and how to overcome them.
For example, if you’re going to be a manager at a game development studio, you need to understand the production pipeline, the various departments that you’ll be spearheading and your competitors. You might even need to dip your toes into the other relevant disciplines like programming, digital art and writing.
- Create a working relationship with your team
The ability to create a strong working relationship with your team is essential in developing a productive environment. You don’t need to be as tight-knit as a blood-relatives, but you do need a good enough relationship to communicate effectively.
Creating a healthy working bond with your team can benefit your department in a number of ways. First, it makes proper teamwork possible. With a good working relationship, you will understand each other’s working styles and communication preferences.
Secondly, it will lead to improved trust, reducing the chances of personal conflicts arising. If the people in your team trust one another, you can avoid toxic office politics.
Lastly, it will give your team the confidence to ask for help when they need it. Projects oftentimes require a lot of collaboration to succeed. If a team is not comfortable with working together, it can lead to a whole host of problems. This includes doubling up on work, miscommunication and missed deadlines.
- Prioritising and delegating
At a surface level, delegation seems like you’re just passing the work to the people below you. However, it actually accomplishes much more than that.
Giving new responsibilities to your team empowers them. It gives them a chance to learn new skills and realise their full potential. For example, you might ask one of your subordinates to do some research on a particular client before a meeting. This can prepare them for conducting meetings of their own in the future. Also, by giving them fresh, new tasks, it can improve their engagement with the work, thus increasing productivity.
As a leader, you also need to know how to manage your tasks and resources appropriately. Prioritising your tasks will give your team a short-term goal to focus on. It will help them manage time more efficiently, allowing them to meet tight deadlines.
- Understanding clients and customers
Understanding your clients’ needs is crucial to any managerial position. To do this, you have to cultivate a good relationship with your customers. This will give you a better idea of your demographic, which will then help you segment your audience and create client personas.
Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to get your team to focus on fulfilling your clients’ specific needs. For example, if your clients spend a lot of their time on social media, you can get your team to focus on creating Facebook ads, Instagram posts and video content. This can help you prioritise tasks and cut down on unnecessary or ineffective work.
- Know your company inside out
Chances are, the department that you manage is merely a small part of a much larger machine. To maximise the effectiveness of your department, it’s important to learn about your company as a whole. Knowing how your department fits into the bigger picture
Also, when you work with other department managers, you will gain an appreciation of their processes. This interdepartmental knowledge is essential when your team has to cooperate and communicate with another group. You should understand the managing style of your fellow team leader and, when necessary, be able to adjust your own to complement it.
Such collaborations will reveal aspects of your own work that need to be improved. Seeing how other departments work can make you realise the shortcomings of your managerial approach.
- Basic financial understanding
Even as a senior manager, there are aspects of the business that you can distance yourself from. Finances, however, is one aspect that you shouldn’t ignore.
It helps to have a basic understanding of the key financial reports in your company. This includes the annual report, the balance sheets and of course profits and losses. You will need this information for budgeting as well as forecasting.
There are plenty of things that you need to learn as a leader. Despite what many might think, being a senior manager is a lot more complicated than just telling people what to do. You will need to manage teams, cooperate with other team leaders, meet with clients and keep your finger on the business as a whole. It is a challenging job. However, with the right attitude and a lot of hard work, it’s possible for you to become a very effective leader.