Five Skills That Managers Need in the Middle of Their Career

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Career Management

Five Skills That Managers Need in the Middle of Their Career

In the first part of this series about manager development, we talked about the five skills that managers need in the early stages of their career. So, it won't be a surprise that today we're tackling the mid-career stage.

The skills that managers need to be effective directly align with the three elements of human resources strategy: performance, engagement and learning. In the early stages of a manager's career, they're focused on performance, and at mid-career, the emphasis is on achieving employee engagement.

Mid-career stage: Five skills that managers need

In the early stages of a manager's career, the focus is on building a foundation. Managers are setting expectations with employees and creating an environment where they can be successful. At mid-career, it's about taking the foundation to the next level. Here are the five skills that managers should develop:

1. Leadership

The words management and leadership are often used interchangeably. However, they're not the same thing. Leadership is defined as the ability to influence the behavior of others, which means that anyone and everyone can be a leader. It's not a title reserved for management positions. Managers should encourage employees to demonstrate leadership ability in all they do. This is one of those characteristics that will lift the team to high-performing status.

While not everyone is a manager, every employee can be a leader! @sharlyn_lauby
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2. Meetings

One of the most important meetings that managers have is the 1:1 with their employees. Managers should take the time to plan this meeting and encourage their employees to do the same. This regularly-scheduled conversation not only offers the exchange of information, but it helps to build trust between employees and managers. Trust is the foundation of positive working relationships and a key component of employee engagement.

3. Coaching

Make no mistake: coaching isn't disciplinary action. True coaching is business coaches helping individuals achieve their goals by listening, asking questions and being supportive. It's not about telling employees what to do, but instead guiding them to discover answers and learning on their own. This means that managers should refine their active listening skills and learn how to offer advice when it's solicited. It's not as easy as it sounds! Sometimes managers confuse coaching with "telling."

4. Goal setting

For managers to truly engage employees, they need to help employees learn how to identify and set their own goals. Then, once that happens, managers should support those newly-minted goals. It's another way of building trust with employees by demonstrating that managers are confident employees who will do what's in the best interest of the organization. It also leads us to the last skill that managers need to develop...

5. Delegation

Ultimately, building employee engagement is about delegation. No one wants micro-management -not the company, the manager or the employee. But creating a work environment where delegation thrives takes time. Managers have to set expectations, build trust and give employees the opportunity to accept the responsibility. When managers are able to delegate, they elevate the performance of the team, which benefits the organization. Everyone wins!

Turn managers into super-coaches mid-career

Organizations must continue to make investments in a manager's career. Early on, it's about building a foundation of knowledge. Mid-career development should be focused on giving managers the tools they need to develop their employees. That allows the manager to focus on building a high-performing team to accomplish the organization's goals.

Stay tuned for the final installment in this series on manager development. Next time: the important skills that managers need in the late stages of their career.

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