To effectively manage a team, you need several key characteristics and skills. Without them, it can be difficult to rally your employees to work toward common goals and perform at their best—which can be disastrous for both your organization and career.

Whether you're an aspiring manager, newly appointed leader without a lot of experience, or seasoned executive who's had difficulty overseeing your team, developing these critical skills will prove crucial to your success.

Team Management Skills All Professionals Need

1. Clear, Effective Communication

As a manager, your goal is to help the members of your team complete tasks in a manner that is efficient, consistent, and aligns with the company’s overarching strategic goals. To accomplish this, you must clearly articulate what those strategic goals are—while also detailing the specific work and processes that will be required of your team to reach them.

By becoming a more effective communicator, you'll remove confusion among your team and ensure everyone is aligned and working toward the same goals.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to manage their emotions, as well as those of others.

A highly developed level of emotional intelligence is a hallmark of strong managers and leaders. Someone with a keen sense of self-awareness, empathy, and other social skills is someone who can motivate and influence others—an important quality for managers to exhibit.

3. Organization

You may be responsible for overseeing budgets and project timelines in addition to the daily tasks that members of your team perform. Juggling so many moving pieces and making necessary adjustments along the way requires a high degree of organization.

4. Ability to Delegate

However tempting it might be for you to micromanage members of your team, doing so can be detrimental to progress.

A good manager knows how to delegate work to others. This involves understanding who's best suited to complete a particular task. It also requires ensuring an employee has the required resources to be successful and feels empowered to make their own decisions.

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5. Openness

Openness goes hand in hand with both emotional intelligence and effective communication.

It’s important that the members of your team feel comfortable approaching you when they have questions or concerns, or when they need clarification on what's expected of them. If your employees don't believe they can reach out to you, there’s a risk that problems or concerns will go unaddressed before it's too late to correct them.

6. Problem-Solving

No matter how well prepared, organized, or established a project or process is, every manager runs into problems. This could be in the form of a missed deadline or milestone. It could be budgetary in nature. It could involve an unforeseen breakdown in the supply chain.

Whatever the case, managers must be skilled problem-solvers. The ability to evaluate a challenge, think critically about potential solutions, and formulate a response are essential to anyone who's tasked with leading a team.

7. Decision-Making

Over the course of a day, managers might be responsible for making a number of decisions that impact their team or the project they're overseeing. Prioritizing tasks, allocating resources, delegating duties—each of these is a decision that falls to the manager.

Sometimes, a manager will need to make an authoritative decision to resolve an issue. Other times, decision-making might involve consensus building, wherein members of the team are invited to participate in the discussion and help guide the process. Ultimately, the manager is responsible for the outcome of the decision and, as such, must be comfortable with ensuing results.

How You Can Develop Your Team Management Skills

If you want to take your team management skills to the next level, there are several steps you can take to improve them. These include:

  • Taking stock of your current skills. To chart a path for your professional development, you first need to understand where your management skills currently stand. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Where are your greatest opportunities to turn development into career success? These insights will help you create a plan that's right for you.

  • Setting goals for improvement and development. Once you have a sense of your current skills, you need to set goals for your development efforts. Which skills do you need to improve? How will you measure success? What is your timeframe? By setting specific and attainable goals, you give yourself something to work toward and increase your chances of success.

  • Inviting feedback from your team. If you're unsure about your current abilities or where you should prioritize growth, consider turning to co-workers for feedback. This can be invaluable in helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Practicing your skills. Practice your skills both in and out of the office. If you find that a project has suffered setbacks due to poor communication, for example, identify the point of confusion and make a mental note to avoid this in the future. Or, if a project has become bogged down due to micromanaging, find methods to help you manage from a perch instead of down in the trenches.

  • Pursuing professional development. Professional development can be a valuable asset in helping you reach your managerial potential. Signing up for a management training course can help you quickly develop your management skills, while pursuing mentorship opportunities can aid you throughout the trajectory of your career.

In Management Essentials, students are given the tools and opportunities they will need to improve their management skills and become more effective managers within their organization. Are you ready to get started? Learn more about how the course can help you accelerate your career.

Tim Stobierski

About the Author

Tim Stobierski is a marketing specialist and contributing writer for Harvard Business School Online.