5 skills

The most important skills for Managers

A recent US survey has identified the most important skills for managers as: communication, ability to train, time management, building culture and managing performance.

In 2019 the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released a study  The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture which identified 1 in 4 American workers dreaded going to work and that US companies had lost $223 billion due to culture caused turn-over.

In 2020 they updated the study with further research finding that 84% of US workers blame bad managers for creating unnecessary stress. This article unpacks the more recent study and finds that there are five skills that employees wish their managers have.

Effective Communication

The mostly highly regarded skill is effective communications (41% of those surveyed stated their manager could improve in this area). It is important to remember that effective communication is not just about talking it is also about listening and acting on feedback. To be good at communications, leaders need to build empathy and focus on active listening.

Ability to Train and Develop

Most employees are looking to continue developing their career and they are looking for their manager to help them build skills and capabilities. (38% of this surveyed were seeking greater training and development).

Managing Time and Effective Delegation

A classic sign of management in trouble is running out of time, so much so it becomes easier for the leader to do the work than delegate the work. (37% stated they were looking for manager to give them more work).

Effective time management allows leaders time to work with team members 1:1 when you find regular catch ups, performance reviews and other coaching meeting are getting deferred or cancelled due to conflicting priorities it is a good indication that not enough work is being effectively delegated.

Delegating tasks is a valuable step in building capabilities across your team, that valuable experience not only helps free up leadership time, it also creates coaching and learning opportunities.

Building and Sustaining an Inclusive Culture

Culture comes from the top and leaders must take beliefs and values and apply them in the way work is done in your organisation. Managers need to make sure employees feel positive and included.

“Organisational culture is like fish, both rot from the head down.”


Now more than ever teams are expecting empathy and compassion from leaders, in the current environment where the world is dealing massive change, individuals are feeling a greater sense of shared purpose.

Managing Team Performance

Everyone knows when a team member is not pulling their respective weight and it can really impact the team culture. Leaders need to make sure that they are monitoring individual performance at the same time as conveying trust and support for them working remotely.

Every team has top performers, average performers and under performers but if nothing is done to focus on the under performers it brings down team morale and impacts the group culture.

Key Findings

  • Leaders need to carefully manage time to effectively delegate, coach, develop and give feedback to team members
  • Managing culture is a key function of the people manager it requires excellent communication and active listening
  • Performance management means ensuring there are clear plans for non performers
Synopsis of an article from Fast Company
Managers: These are the 5 skills your employees wish you had
by Stephanie Vozza
Published 28th September 2020

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