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Top 6 Skills for New Managers

Learn the skills you need to excel as a leader! 

Have you recently been promoted at work to a management role?  Or are you starting a new job as a manager?  Whether you’re an aspiring manager or settling into your first management position, this article covers the top 6 skills that you’ll need to succeed. 

Being a new manager means taking on new responsibilities, like the potential to lead and grow a team.  While it’s exciting to climb the professional ladder, you may also feel the pressure to upskill or become an experienced manager quickly.  However, it’s important to remember: managing people is a skill — and with practice, patience, and the right tools, you’ll become better over time.  

We asked managers and leaders from across a range of industries which top skills they believed to be the most important for a new manager to learn.  Read on to discover what you should focus on as a new manager and why. 

#1. Communication

As a leader, your job is to keep things running smoothly and avoid misunderstandings.  This involves strategically relaying information and ideas to different groups of people, whether it be your team, new employees, or superiors.  Therefore, you need clear and reciprocal communication skills. 

Deborah Goldberg, Team Leader for an auto insurance site, says: “It is not enough to be good at your job yourself; you also need to be able to help those below you do their jobs as well. This requires you to understand different communication styles and clarification needs.” 

While communication skills are generally important for any employee, a management position requires a bit more.  For example, employees differ in how they express themselves and absorb information.  Thus, as a manager, acknowledging this and learning how to best work with each individual will increase mutual understanding and team success.    

#2. Delegation

Leading a team includes navigating difficult decisions on a daily basis, while focusing on the big picture.  Delegation is an important managerial skill that can greatly affect team structure and efficiency and keep things running smoothly.  This involves identifying and prioritising important issues, and using organisation and project management as a solution strategy. This will help to address obstacles head-on and avoid micromanaging. 

Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals, explains: “You need to be extremely aware of which of your employees excels at a certain kind of work, how they handle pressure and in general, what the quality of their work is. Once you know this, you’ll become better at assigning the right tasks to the right people and you’ll become a much better manager.” 

If delegation doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t fret.  You can learn to get better at it through practice or by embarking on management training.  

#3. Listening

As a new manager, you must balance between accommodating individuals and achieving company goals.  Listening is a stepping stone for negotiation and compromise.  “Leadership isn't just about making other people follow, it's about considering the perspectives of others to improve the workplace/project for all,” says Sto Adams, Chief Developer at M.E. Investments & Holdings.  

Take time to truly listen to your team.  Not only will it make you more relatable and approachable, but it will also show your commitment as a manager.  Active listening to your team’s needs creates space for open dialogue and problem-solving.  

For instance, if you’re having an online meeting, close all of your other tabs to stay focused on what your employee is saying.  Also, let someone speak without interrupting.  These gestures can build respect and team resilience, which facilitate a comfortable environment for conflict resolution. 

#4. Empathy

The ability to express and understand emotions is a valuable soft skill for new managers.  Showing compassion forms connection, trust, and rapport with your employees.  In turn, team member loyalty is nurtured with genuine care and appreciation.  Empathy can also help you to remain calm and patient under high-pressure situations. 

“Too many times, managers care more about the end than they do the means. Managers who are most successful know how to relate to their team members. Caring and understanding go a long way in earning your team’s confidence,” says Bret Bonnet, President of Quality Logo Products, Inc.  

If an employee is struggling with a task, a manager can respond empathically by first trying to see things from their perspective.  Then, they can convey understanding and offer guidance from a place of compassion rather than frustration or blame.        

#5. Motivation Skills

As a manager, you have the opportunity to be a role model and lead with passion and optimism.  You can provide feedback in a way that keeps the team moving forward and gives others purpose in their work.  Inspire your team by engaging with enthusiasm and offering career guidance.  Channeling that excitement into action will assist in reaching goals and implementing strategy.  After all, positivity can be contagious. 

Paul French, Managing Director of Intrinsic Search, shares: “Motivating your employees and giving them the support they need to get their work done will help to foster productivity, job satisfaction, performance, and the overall success of your new team and the company at large.” 

If motivation skills aren’t your strongpoint, they can be learnt through motivation courses and training

#6. Humility 

Last but not least, remember that you won’t be a perfect manager right away. You won’t always have the answer to everything.  Sometimes you’ll make mistakes.  And that’s okay: in fact, it’s important. The way you own and accept these mistakes will set the standard for your team. 

Jordan Smyth, CEO & Founder of Gleamin, says: “Accept and celebrate mistakes. When you slip up, share it with your team to show that you are human too. You want to encourage initiative, but that will only happen if team members feel comfortable making mistakes.” 

Make it clear that you’re learning along the way; be transparent, and it's likely that your team will be more accepting and receptive to constructive criticism.  This will ultimately lead to growth in your role and most importantly, to your team’s growth. Because when you succeed, your team succeeds.   

Want to find out more about new management skills?  Check out this article: How to improve your communication skills

Ready to gain new management skills? 

We list nearly 200 people management courses. Equip yourself with the tools you need to succeed in your leadership role. Use our search engine and filters to find the management option you need, today. 

Find courses for new managers

Additional reading on the top skills to develop at different stages of your career:

About the author

Cassandra Kenning is a writer and content editor for Educations Media Group. Originally from the U.S., she has been living in Sweden since 2017 and has a master’s degree in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University. Cassandra uses her passion for education to promote learning and development in the workplace.      


Last updated: 26 Apr 2022

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