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Christina Hession

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Ten skills for the modern manager


Whether you employ one person or 1000, there are ten skills that no employer or manager should be without. If used appropriately they will enhance your work environment and make your team happy. Christina Hession from Toastmasters International details these 10 essential skills:

  • Critical thinking: A successful critical thinker gathers information, before interpreting it, analysing it and using logical reasoning to reach conclusions. To become a better critical thinker you need to be informed, avoid making decisions too early, have an open mind, don’t be afraid to ask questions, weigh opinions against facts, and consider and analyse all options.
  • Listening: By acquiring good listening skills you’ll receive more, and better, information. This will help you to identify and clarify issues, make decisions, resolve conflict and be creative.
  • Time management: Budget your time and accomplish tasks and projects efficiently by: identifying short-term and long-term goals, making a daily to do list, prioritising the most important items on the list, making a schedule, delegating where possible, leaving time for unexpected tasks and managing interruptions.
  • Giving feedback: It is vitally important for team members to know what they are doing well, what they are not doing well and what they need to do to improve. Allowing a team member who is not pulling his/her weight to continue on regardless, can prevent a team from reaching its goals and cause resentment. Likewise, recognising the efforts of high performing team members can motivate them and enhance the performance of the whole team.
  • Planning: This involves goal setting, establishing strategies, setting a timetable, assigning responsibilities and anticipating obstacles.
  • Organising and delegating skills: Organisation involves dividing the work into logical assignments, providing the resources, determining the lines of responsibility and authority and establishing a communication structure for co-ordinating efforts and providing feedback. How to delegate effectively? Choose the right person, get their agreement, make expectations clear, establish how and when feedback should be given and give the appropriate authority.
  • Team building: Ideally, choose team members who already have the skills and knowledge needed for the chosen task. Consider colleagues who are reliable, hard-working, motivated and who work well with others. What goals will your team be working towards? Agree on the procedures and rules to be followed. Develop a plan. How will the team’s performance be monitored? How will you build the team’s trust?
  • Facilitation skills: A facilitator establishes the structure a team needs to function effectively, ensures that structure is viable and removes obstacles that may impede progress. They empower the team, encouraging it to take control and assume responsibility for proceeding with its projects. This is done by assisting the team to clarify tasks, define roles within the team, plan meetings and projects, make decisions, resolve conflicts and identify processes.
  • Motivate others: A good motivator creates and maintains an environment, where team members are likely to become motivated. People are motivated by different things. Find out what motivates individual team members, then develops rewards that match what members value.
  • Be a mentor: A mentor recognises someone who is less experienced, but cultivates his/her potential and helps them succeed. Be a mentor by being a role model, offering advice, encouraging independent thinking, helping the mentee recognise areas that need improvement and offering opportunities for skill development.

By developing these 10 skills you will not only stand out in the recruitment process, you will also be more likely to move quickly up the career ladder. Whatever role you are looking for these skills will be an asset to both you and your employer.

Christina Hession is a member of Toastmasters International and is District 71 Toastmaster of the Year, 2013


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