How to improve management skills and up your leadership game

Photo by Microsoft 365 on Unsplash

Good management is at the heart of every successful business. Management skills are listed as one of the top ten most important workplace skills by the World Economic Forum. Good management skills lead to increased production, profit, and employee participation.

As a professional, learning these skills can significantly improve your work experience. They help you establish relationships with co-workers and subordinates. When an organization has an easy flow of processes, corporate goals are more easily attained.

Management skills are not restricted to top executives alone. Workers in any capacity, including freelancers, should learn and apply them.

What are management skills? Why do you need them as a freelancer? How can you improve on them? We’ll answer all your questions in the next few sections.

What are management skills?

These are the sets of abilities that a manager or leader within an organization must have to achieve certain outcomes.

A manager's most important role is to ensure that all aspects of the organization work together in cohesion. They are also responsible for ensuring that the organization's resources, such as time, money, and labor, are used effectively to achieve its goals.

A manager with good management skills can meet, if not exceed, these expectations. They are essential to running an organization well and achieving desired business objectives.

What types of management skills are there?

Robert Katz, a psychologist and consultant, provided three major categories into which all management skills fall. The first category includes technical or hard skills, such as operating, software, and equipment or doing other physical work. The second category is conceptual skills, which refer to abstract thinking, like developing ideas, strategies, and solutions. The third set involves interpersonal or social skills. These facilitate interaction, communication, and collaboration among employees and customers.

Within the above categories are a wide range of skills. We will discuss six of them:

Planning and organization

A manager must be able to coordinate activities in line with the company’s overall objectives. This involves the development of short- and long-term goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving them. To this end, the manager must properly deploy all available resources, such as time, equipment, capital, and labor belonging to the organization, each to their full potential.

Communication

This refers to the manager's ability to convey information, instruction, praise, and criticism clearly and constructively. Planning and organization will be ineffective if the manager does not communicate well with the team. The flow of information within the organization determines how others understand the goals and objectives at hand. It also impacts cohesion and conflict resolution in the workplace.

Decision making

Since managers are at the helm of affairs, they are often faced with the burden of making decisions in the company's best interests. Wrong decisions can be costly, whereas right decisions can propel the company forward. A manager may not even have the time to think things through. In these situations, they must be able to think on their feet and decide on the spot. This is a very powerful skill.

Delegation

The manager is responsible for assigning roles and tasks to subordinates according to the goal. It can also involve reassigning roles, for example, where a worker is underperforming or has too much workload. It is also about knowing which worker is best suited for a particular task.

Delegation helps the manager optimize time and labor. It also instills a sense of responsibility and accountability in employees.

Problem-solving

The ability to effectively deal with workplace issues as they come up is known as problem-solving. A typical workday can bring several unforeseen problems. The manager must proactively work to prevent them as much as possible. When they inevitably occur, the manager should be able to detect and handle them best. Otherwise, corporate productivity can be severely affected.

Critical thinking, intuition, and innovation

These three are not necessarily synonymous but refer to a manager's ability to develop new ways to do things. A good manager looks beyond the surface to identify challenges that may elude the notice of others. They are also skilled at developing dynamic ways to solve a problem or achieve a desired result.

The above skills are not exclusive, and many can be broken into subskills. However, these are central to good management.

Why are management skills important for freelancers?

Even though freelancers do not work in traditional workplaces, they need management skills just as much as anyone else. In a fiercely competitive freelance market, success entails more than just doing one's job well. Many other factors are important.

For example, freelance workers need to be skilled in communication. They must be able to express themselves clearly, cordially, and professionally. This entails timely responses to inquiries, complaints, and suggestions.

Similarly, because freelancers typically work for multiple clients simultaneously, it can be difficult to keep track of various deadlines, tasks, and meetings. So, there is a need for planning and organizational skills. Otherwise, there will be many missed deadlines, which is not good for business. Workee enables freelancers to create and update calendars with meetings, tasks, and deadlines to organize themselves better. It also creates a single workspace for client information, communications, and payments.

Another management skill that freelancers must have is problem-solving. While no meaningful human relationship is free of conflicts, not handling them properly can strain your working relationships. To be a successful freelancer, you must deal with problems objectively and creatively, making the best of bad situations.

These skills help freelancers to improve the quality of their work relationships and output.

How to improve your management skills

You can develop management skills in two ways. One, by gaining practical management experience, and two, by learning.

Employees are often promoted to management positions as a reward for hard work. As a result, they have very little training to manage an organization properly.  

If this describes you, or you are a freelancer seeking to manage your craft better, this section will provide practical ways to develop the skills you need.

Planning and organization

Learning how to manage your workload reduces stress and increases productivity. There are many practical tips to help you improve your planning and organization.

  • Create a calendar marked with meetings, tasks, and deadlines, and attach reminders to each.

  • Declutter your workspace. Clean, organized spaces help you to think and work better.

  • Prioritize.

  • Have a day-to-day plan.

  • Delegate tasks where necessary.

  • Multitasking can be counterproductive. Avoid it as much as you can.

  • Use scheduling software for personal planning and project management software for your team.

Communication

Clear communication is vital for a good working relationship. Whether as a freelancer or team manager, you will find these tips very helpful:

  • Check in regularly with your clients or subordinates.

  • Announce important information as many times as possible.

  • Ask questions, and encourage others to do the same.

  • Proofread emails, texts, and other written information before sending them out.

According to the situation, communication can be formal, informal, upward, downwards, or sideways. What matters is that it is clear, accurate, and timely.

Decision-making

A manager is often faced with decisions, some major, others minor. It requires skill to be able to make smart decisions at every turn. These tricks will help you:

  • Create mental simulations of different scenarios, and think of the best possible decision.

  • Analyze your past decisions to discover your patterns, mistakes, and motivations. 

  • Keep a high-level view of your overall work goals and values in mind.

  • Consult expert advice, and seek an explanation to guide you if such a situation occurs again.

These guidelines can help you hone your skills and make better decisions.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills are developed through practice and experience. Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Think proactively. This way, you can foresee problems before they occur.

  • Take time to analyze the situation, and think of potential solutions.

  • Objectively consider the position of each party involved in the conflict.

  • From the potential solutions coming to mind, pick the best.

Remember that your solution does not need to be perfect, but it must be reasonable. If you are confused, you may contact a mentor for help. You should also discover ways to avoid a repeat of the situation.

Developing these skills will take time and effort, but your efforts will be rewarded. You will notice significant improvements in your work outputs as a freelancer or a manager.

Workee makes freelancing easy!

Freelancers who use Workee all around the world agree. Among them are stylists, tutors, nutritionists, designers, writers, yoga experts, and fitness coaches; the list is endless.

Workee has proven to be a great solution with amazing features that simplify freelancing. Workee is not just a scheduling application. It is everything you need as a freelancer.

Here are some services that Workee provides:

  • You can set up a professional website in a few minutes, according to the theme and layouts you love. Clients can find your website on Google.

  • Smart booking and scheduling features because freelancers often have multiple appointments across time zones. Workee schedules your meetings and reminds you of them as they draw near.

  • Payments and automated invoicing for services, logs of received payments, automatic tax calculation, and multi-currency support — all without commission fees.

  • Video calls and conferencing with your students, with a notepad feature to take notes during call sessions.

  • Clients' management tool to easily manage your interactions with clients. Here you can keep all the information of respective clients together in one place, manage sessions, and receive payments.

Excited to start with Workee? Schedule a demo with our Manager!

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