How to Master Managerial Skills in 5 Simple Steps
Read time: 8 minutes
The idea of mastering new skills – like managerial skills – may seem daunting when you’re first getting started, but don’t let that be a barrier to trying in the first place. Business Coach Roberto Erario provides a step-by-step process to help you become adept at any skill.
The Compelling Issue From Our Customer:
I’m the founder and owner of a company that now has 20 people, and it’s growing fast. I’m happy about the growth, but sometimes I feel that I’m not good enough when it comes to dealing with my first line of managers. I would like to improve the way I relate to them, but it seems that it’s not in my nature. To give you a better idea: I don’t spend lots of 1-1 time with my managers because it’s not something I tend to make room for in my busy schedule. I also find that the quality of the meetings I have with them is poor because of my lack of patience and need to multitask during our conversations. I want to change this, but I’m not sure how. I can see my staff is getting more and more frustrated with my attitude. Any recommendation for how I can improve my situation and develop the skills I need? — M.D., Colorado
The Powerful Answer From Our Coach Roberto:
When a company grows, it requires people to grow their skills on different levels. As a leader, you definitely need to expand your skill sets because your company is ultimately a reflection of you. Where you are limited, your company is limited. If you don’t grow, you become a bottleneck for the energy of your organization. The good news is that you can always develop the skills you need to be an effective leader and manager. It may take some time and effort, but it takes less than what you would think.
To start off, I suggest that you review the tips in my previous blog post where I deconstruct the roles found in creative agencies. In this post I outlined how each role is made up of 3 main components of skills: Technical, Managerial and Relational. Now I’ll show you how you can develop any skill you want that falls into one of these categories. As an example, we’ll use the skill of active listening (this is part of the Relational component). We’ll use this particular skill, but rest assured, you can replicate the process below with any skill you want. And by the way, if you want to start developing 2 or 3 skills at the same time, I would encourage you to do so — just make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed!
This is a 5-step approach that I recommend you use in order to develop a new skill:
1.) Build Your Wisdom Around the Topic
If you haven’t already, go ahead and acquire some knowledge around the skill you are trying to develop. By doing so, you create a cognitive foundation that will help you accelerate the process. Read a book, attend a course live or online, watch some videos, or listen to some audiobooks — as long as you do it with the intention of building a better understanding of the skill you are trying to develop. There are 2 things to keep in mind while you are building this knowledge base, though. Firstly, don’t spend too much time on this. Your goal here is not to become an expert on the topic, you just want to broaden your knowledge. Secondly, don’t stop at this stage and be under the illusion that you’ve got it! Learning about a skill intellectually does not directly translate to you being able to perform it (that’s like thinking you can play tennis because you read a couple of books about it!)
2.) Describe Your Ideal Result in Vivid Detail
Make sure you write down the result you are chasing. For example, imagine things like this: having a conversation where you don’t constantly interrupt, your team members leaving meetings more satisfied, people at the office telling you there’s been a shift in your leadership and they finally feel heard. You get my point. The more detailed you can describe the look and feel of the future experience you want to generate (after mastering your new skill), the more powerful this part of the process becomes. And, once you’ve written it down, visualize this experience as often as you can. This repetition acts as ‘virtual practice,’ so that your mind knows exactly what you are trying to create. Remember, our brain (and body) reacts to vivid mental representations the same way as it reacts when we are experiencing things in reality. This is the perfect place to take a beat from athletes who use visualization to improve their confidence and get better results during competitions.
3.) Mind the Gap
Identify the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be. For example, compared to the ideal situation you’re visualizing for the future, you realize that you interrupt too many times, your mind wonders too often, you multitask during a conversation, and even when you listen, you don’t show it. That’s where your gaps are. The more you are able to see what is different and what is missing, the clearer it will be for you to decide what you want to focus on to improve.
4.) Design and Implement an Effective Plan of Attack
Based on what you now know about the topic, your desired result, and the gaps you have to fill, create a list of 4 or 5 behaviors that make up the skill (make sure they are observable behaviours). In this case we’re looking at active listening as an example, so your list of behaviours can be:
- I do not interrupt the other person
- I pay full attention and show it with my body language (no multitasking)
- I ask questions to make sure I understand what is unclear, or to get more details
- I recap the main points periodically to make sure that what I understood is aligned with what the other person wanted to communicate (by doing this I also show that I’m actively paying attention to what was said)
5.) Practice… Measure… Improve… Master!
Now that you’ve decided on some specific behaviors that are a practical representation of your skill, all you need to do is “wisely” perform them and you will eventually master your skill.
This is how to be “wise” about it:
After a meeting or conversation, self-assess each behaviour by rating it on a scale from 1 to 5. You can recall what happened, or even better, use a recording (whenever possible and appropriate). In addition to your own assessment, make sure to include feedback from an external person (a team member, a colleague, a coach etc.) as often as possible. You want feedback from someone who can give you a specific evaluation of each of the above behaviours, and provide objective evidence (eg. when exactly you interrupted or when you asked great questions). When I work with my clients I also use role-plays to help them see their behavioral patterns in a different context, showing them of what they do or don’t do. You can use this approach if you don’t feel comfortable testing the new behaviors directly during official meetings with your team. Remember that any feedback (from yourself after the fact, or from anybody else) will never be 100% accurate, but it will give you some good external input to work on. By doing this on a regular basis, you’ll eventually move from a conscious incompetence (eg. you think about not interrupting the other person but still can’t stop yourself from doing it) to an unconscious competence (eg. not interrupting becomes more “natural” to you).
This process may sound simple, and that’s because it is! I’ve helped many clients and seen the transformation in their leadership style over and over again. Stay connected to why you want to create this change, and then invest some energy and time into the process. In just a few months you’ll experience amazing results for yourself and your team.
Know a friend who would find this helpful? Let them know and share this article! If you have any additional questions on this topic, or need some agency advice, feel free to email Roberto.
A former executive in the banking industry, Roberto Erario holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Master in Corporate and Executive Coaching. He’s a Licensed Business and Life NLP Coach, a Certified Master NLP Practitioner, and he’s been training and coaching executives and business owners in Europe and North America for the last 11 years. Major past clients include the following: Accenture, Siemens, Hilton Hotels, Dun & Bradstreet, Dorchester Group and Verind – Durr Group.