The most important soft skills for managers and how to teach them

The most important soft skills for managers and how to teach them

June 29, 2022

Shot of two work colleagues using a digital tablet during a business meeting at work

The strength of a manager’s soft skills is often what allows them to advance in a company or become a natural leader within an organization. It is naturally those who are the easiest to work with and achieve results with who will be asked to lead their own teams. But while they may be hard to quantify and may not become visible until a person has settled in an organization, they can be learned and strengthened. They can also fluctuate with time depending on a person’s stress level, well-being, and commitment. The most important soft skills for managers can improve with time and can often be taught once a person has been identified as a potential leader. 

“Leadership contains certain elements of good management, but it requires that you inspire, that you build durable trust. For an organization to be not just good but to win, leadership means evoking participation larger than the job description, commitment deeper than any job contract’s wording.”  ~ Stanley A. McChrystal

6 of the most important soft skills for managers

Communication 

While communication is the obvious first on the list of important soft skills for managers, its training is often neglected, and sometimes until it is too late. Communication is a soft skill that can appear strong or weak depending on the situation or overall. Making sure that managers have access to training that will keep expectations around communication front and center will lead to greater work satisfaction and productivity for the entire team. 

Types of training to strengthen managers’ communication skills:

    Body language

    Asking important questions

    Listening skills 

    Email communication 

    Difficult conversations 

Teamwork

An effective manager doesn’t just work well with their team, they put systems and expectations in place so that the team works well with each other. While some people are natural leaders, others gain the ability to effectively lead teams over time. Regardless, all can benefit from ongoing information and soft skills training on group efficiency. 

Types of training to strengthen managers’ teamwork skills:

    Managing up 

    Building rapport with your team

    How to delegate 

    The benefits of teamwork 

    Incorporating all team members

    Identifying and utilizing employee strengths 

Managing discipline 

Managing conflict and disciplining employees is an important soft skill for managers that few are enthusiastic about practicing or developing. Yet having confidence in this area can go a long way in talent retention, preventing problems, protecting a company’s reputation, and minimizing the time spent on it. An effective and healthy organization has clear protocols for managers to follow and expectations on how conflicts are both prevented and dealt with. Regular focus on evaluating a manager’s ability to manage discipline is a necessity in today’s diverse workplace. 

Types of training to strengthen managers’ discipline skills:

    Developing and enforcing a code of conduct

    Mediation skills

    Employee discipline basics 

    Firing best practices

    Conflict resolution 

    Sexual harassment prevention and policy 

Decision making 

One of the top and most basic responsibilities of a manager is to make decisions. From delegating to hiring, it is a soft skill that has an enormous impact on a business. One’s ability to confidently make decisions can also affect their work satisfaction and well-being and is, therefore, an important soft skill for managers to provide ongoing training in. 

Types of training to strengthen managers’ decision-making skills:

    Critical thinking 

    Problem-solving 

    Improving decision-making skills

    Strengthening confidence as a manager 

    Decision-making strategies 

Organization 

A person’s organizational skills correlate closely with their ability to be productive. This soft skill also impacts a person’s ability to delegate and therefore effectively run a team. This is an especially tangible soft skill to provide training on and a great soft skill to monitor and provide personalized content based on a manager’s needs and performance. 

Types of training to strengthen managers’ organization skills:

Meetings that get results

Time management

Setting goals 

Project management 

Work/life balance 

Organization systems

Leadership

Leadership as a skill may be the most abstract or hardest to quantify, but it is nonetheless among the most important skills to look for and to develop for managers. It is leadership ability that brings a person’s management capability to light and it is also a skill that can be weakened with the stress of added responsibilities. Providing ongoing support for managers through training is therefore essential for retaining and utilizing this talent. 

Some ways that leadership soft skills show up is in a manager’s ability to motivate others, set a good example, recognize the contributions of others, solve conflicts, and communicate. It is hard to imagine a team functioning well without a manager who has some ability in these areas so it should always be of concern to maintain and strengthen. 

Types of training to strengthen managers’ leadership skills:

    Motivating your team

    Hiring practices 

    Types of leadership styles 

    Understanding different work styles 

    Developing empathy

Ready to add more resources to your training library and continue to strengthen your company’s leadership team? Contact us to discuss white-label, off-the-shelf, or custom training solutions.