How to take your management skills to the next level
Forging a successful career in the business world requires dedication to learning new skills and applying them effectively. Technology is evolving to be faster, more efficient and more effective to better address employee needs and company demands. These developments mean that the knowledge you had upon graduation must also be updated to reflect current trends and to position yourself for success.
Whether you’re looking to build up your career or change paths, now’s the time to improve your capabilities. By following these steps, you can take your management skills to the next level and prepare yourself for the future of business operations.
1. Recognize your skill plateau
When you first enter a job or a new business role, you are typically asked to learn a number of new things very quickly. As you become more comfortable as a professional, you might pick up a few additional skills on the way. But these opportunities can recede over time until you’ve reached the maximum level of your effectiveness as a leader. This stagnation might limit the growth of the business or even your career path.
Fortunately, recognizing this leadership lid is half the battle. When you realize you’ve hit your skill plateau, you can begin taking the necessary steps to learn and grow. Enlist the help of others and extend your boundaries to gain new skills and develop as a leader. Attending business courses or pursuing an MBA could also advance your capabilities and career options.
2. Take on management opportunities
One of the best ways to improve your skills is to learn from experience. Take advantage of small management opportunities as they become available at your organization. This could mean training new hires, conducting meetings or leading a project. You should make it known that you’re ready for more responsibility. Take initiative by asking if you can take any managerial tasks off your boss’ plate. You can also prove your leadership skills through volunteering at community events or helping plan a company outing.
During these opportunities, it’s important to take action to proactively solve a problem. Rather than telling your boss about a challenge and waiting for a solution, tell him or her how you’re going to fix it. Creating a clear strategy to address pain points will show your manager that you’re dedicated to the organization’s success and demonstrate your problem-solving skills. These characteristics and drive are what organizations look for in future leaders and can bolster your management capabilities.
3. Improve your communication skills
Even with the advancement of technology and a shifting definition of the workplace, communication skills remain one of the most critical characteristics of an excellent manager. Whether you have remote workers or everyone comes into the office, it is important to convey messages clearly and effectively. If progress has halted on a project, communication skills are necessary to get to the root cause and provide team members with more effective guidance. Better communication will help your team members stay focused and understand what must be accomplished.
Communication is one of the less common, more desired skills to have in your management arsenal. In the Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016, The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business scored 4.14 out of 5 for its ability to teach students essential communication skills. The school also achieved 4.67 out of 5 for imparting adaptability techniques. These traits will be important for improving your overall management capabilities and connecting effectively with team members.
As a leader, you’ll be asked to speak to a wide variety of audiences. There are four main communication styles that you will encounter:
- Socializers – These individuals work fast, quickly process information and thrive on talking with others.
- Directors – Directors like research and proven facts. They often make fast decisions and are known for their quick and efficient operations.
- Relaters – People in the relater category move at a slower, calmer pace than socializers but are still relationship-oriented and enjoy working with others.
- Thinkers – Thinkers work slowly and need time to process things through before responding. They operate methodically and deliberately to make sure everything is right.
By understanding each type of communication style, you’ll be able to speak effectively with everyone you work with.
4. Bolster strategic decision-making
Leaders make a number of choices on a daily basis that impact productivity and business operations. However, a number of these resolutions only address short-term problems. Impulsive decision-making can prevent businesses from taking the next step and growing to better serve customer and employee expectations. Strategic decision-making skills are widely valuable to employers and can open a number of opportunities for your career.
Learning how to make calculated choices will come with practice but will pay off in the long run. Firefighting and solving issues to simply be functional won’t ensure business continuity. When faced with a challenge, determine not only how to fix it but what processes or assets can be put into place to mitigate the problem in the future. This type of mindset will be essential to effectively adopting and implementing new initiatives in ways that will bring long-term value.
5. Foster strong peer relationships
On top of communicating effectively with team members, it will be important to forge quality relationships with these individuals. To do this, improve your listening skills and show your peers that you are actively taking their feedback into consideration. A Harvard Business Review study found that employees are more engaged when high performers are recognized and when they have a clear understanding of how they contribute to business strategy. In fact, 70 percent felt more involved when senior leadership continually updated and communicated plans for the organization. This type of transparency will foster trust across the group and build up your management skills.
You should also get a full view of the entire company, down to the individual roles. Understanding what each person does on a daily basis will form a better picture of how departments work together for the company’s overall success. This knowledge will help you reach out to solve problems quickly and delve into each individual’s strengths. It will also be important to use this information to solve pain points and provide guidance where it’s needed.
6. Pursue an MBA
All of these skills will be essential to taking your management capabilities to the next level. If you’re looking to build upon or change your career, pursuing an MBA could be a critical piece to learning all of these necessary management skills. Programs from a reputable institution like the Smith School of Business provide essential leadership courses that teach lessons on critical thinking, decision-making, how to lead change effectively and how to disagree agreeably. The online classes ensure that you can pursue an MBA on your own schedule.
As you research potential MBA programs, it is important to evaluate the curriculum and ensure that it addresses the areas you want to learn about. Students in the Smith Online MBA program will take courses based on a chosen concentration to enhance their skills and decision-making capabilities. They will learn business theories and how to apply them. Students will also be exposed to real-life scenarios to work toward creating plausible solutions. Every course is adapted to the ever-changing business environments, ensuring that you will have valuable management skills.
MBA students can also take advantage of internships during their study to improve their management skills. Some companies will even recruit MBA candidates for positions before they graduate. Pursuing an MBA will help develop your networking skills and profile, opening possible opportunities with people who will have an impact on your career. You can lean on these professional connections for support and advice to further improve your management capabilities and solve difficult issues.
7. Use your skills in your career
After pursuing an MBA, it’s time to put your new skills and knowledge to the test in your career. Use your experience to work effectively on a team, make decisions and manage your time. Offer up specialized knowledge and management skills to apply what you’ve learned. This can directly benefit your colleagues, the organization, and your career. It will be important to continue learning on the job and establish your own management style.
It’s never too late to learn new skills, particularly if you want to bolster your career or change your path. Once you’ve recognized that you’ve hit a skill plateau, it’s time to take action. Use management opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities. Communication and strategic decision-making will be among the most critical tools for building lasting relationships and bringing business value. Using these new tools can strengthen your position and prove your proficiency.
The Robert H. Smith School of Business has a reputable MBA program geared to teach students the most relevant knowledge and skills. Courses in the online program are designed to fit into any schedule. MBA events at the university can also provide opportunities for networking and skill advancement. Start pursuing an MBA today to take your management skills to the next level and open up new doors in your career.