5 hidden skills new managers develop that benefit career growthJanuary 24, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Becoming a manager provides great on-the-job training opportunities for the recent college grad or entry-level employee. It not only provides opportunities to grow as a leader, but also as a professional. In fact, many managers – years down the road – realize that the hidden skills they developed as an entry-level manager helped them grow professionally, more than they ever realized.
How so? Becoming a manager – a good manager that is, forces individuals to learn how to see things differently, act differently, and grow as a professional, differently than they may have if they weren’t in a leadership position early in their career.
Here are five of those hidden skill sets good entry-level managers develop that prove beneficial as they advance in their career, from Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian, a human capital management firm:
- Active Listening: Active listening is a beneficial skill that should be developed early on in ones’ career. It means taking a step back and really focusing in on what your employees have to say. By doing so, you will hear and learn about situations or issues at work or beyond that may be affecting your employees. This is information that you may otherwise miss if you didn’t take the time to actively listen.
- Ability to recognize non-verbal cues: Developing the ability to read non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or posture is an important skill when it comes to managing people and solving issues. Why? Because sometimes what people say is not entirely what they mean. Alongside listening, non-verbal cues provide insight into potential issues that may need further discussion and solving. Also, as a manager, you need to become more self-aware of any non-verbal cues that you may be expressing. This type of self-awareness will help you gain more control over your message delivery when giving feedback.
- The ability to adapt and change: Another valuable skill to hone in on is being able to change your leadership style to meet the needs of the situation. Even as a manager, you yourself will report to someone. Your style of leadership around those who you report to may need to be different from the style you display around your direct reports. In some cases, you need to be supportive of the individual employee as their leader and in others, you need to put the company’s mandate first. You’ll quickly learn, as a manager, how to work with different personalities, leaderships styles (including your own and your boss’ leadership styles), and the many quirks, challenges, and perspective each individual brings to the workplace.
- The art of recognition: The art of recognition is a skill that every leader should have when it comes to motivating employees. Remembering to say thank you goes a long way. If you take the time to recognize the work that employees are doing, it makes them feel valued. They will respect you further and you will be seen as that leader who is supportive – someone who people will want to work with, for a long time.
- You are a role model: Lastly – and this is not so much a skill, but an important value that both new and seasoned managers should uphold – remember, that you are a role model. That means regularly doing the right thing even when you think no one is watching or paying attention. Leadership is nothing, without integrity.
Being a manager is hard work – not everyone can do it. But you are in that role, and have a great opportunity to develop hidden skill sets as a young professional. So take advantage of both on-the-job, and formal training programs to become the best manager one can be.
“You will want to be sure that you have up-to-date skills in the areas of leadership, change management and the technical aspects of your role,” says Shirley Weis, former Chief Administrative Officer for Mayo Clinic, where her work involved overseeing 60,000 employees and $9 billion in revenues. Weis recently published the book Playing to Win in Business, an Amazon bestseller. “Formal training will help you feel more comfortable in your new position and give you the confidence to become an expert in your field.”
To continue to develop these skills now, and throughout one’s career, focus on cross-training opportunities and finding a mentor, says Nancy Saperstone, Senior HR Business Partner with Insight Performance, recognized as a national industry leader in human resources, providing proven and cost-effective HR solutions.
“Learn other sides of the business,” says Saperstone. “Don’t just stay in your silo’d responsibilities. The more you can understand the business, where your group fits in and how it impacts the rest of the company, the more you can contribute.”
As a new manager, you will want to get to know other managers in your organization. They are now your peers, so set up a time to meet each one individually and get to know about the challenges they are facing as well as ask for advice about how you can learn the new rules of the management game, says Weis.
Finally, find someone in the business that can be a mentor, says Saperstone. At the same time, be a mentor to someone more junior than you.
“Not only will you help them grow, but it’s always good to get a different perspective from someone else,” says Saperstone.
Becoming a manager provides all sorts of new career growth opportunities. Developing skill sets such as these not only will help young professionals now, but as they advance in their career. Take advantage of these opportunities now to reap the rewards later.
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