In today’s constantly changing and uncertain times, equipping your managers with the critical skills they need to drive growth has never been more important. Unfortunately, management and leadership has been a long-time blind spot in the UK skills agenda, with 71% of firms failing to offer training to first-time managers, instead leaving them to sink or swim in leadership roles that require an entirely different set of skills to the ones that they were promoted for.

As markets change and are ‘disrupted’ by technology and an increasing number of ambitious companies emerging to challenge the status quo, so the ‘must-have’ skills for managers and leaders change as well. With a new year well underway, take a look at six skills considered essential for managers that want to lead effectively and efficiently in 2018.


As problems become more complex, more organisations are using coaching to drive the culture of support that helps individuals to tackle those they cannot solve alone. Increasingly, we are seeing coaching introduced as a company-wide ethos, where key metrics like employee engagement and productivity benefit from a wide, ubiquitous programme of coaching, and the inception of a ‘coaching culture’, rather than its isolated implementation.


In a country where only 36% of middle managers fully trust their leaders, the importance of trust in the workplace is being acknowledged. A learnable skill, the ability for a leader to gain trust and respect from the members of their team is crucial in a working environment.

Widely-respected American educator Stephen Covey listed trust as his number one leadership competency because it acts as a multiplier for other competencies. According to the Chartered Management Institute, in rapidly growing organisations 68% of managers have high trust in leaders; in declining organisations that number plummets to just 15%.


The sheer number of applications for vacancies in large cities, or areas experiencing rapid inward migration, makes the responsibility of interviewing, and eventually decision making, a tough one for all levels of management. Training can provide key skills in asking the right questions and interpreting the responses, as well as the decision making at the end of the process.

Managing Meetings

Meetings are still an important tool for gathering employee input and working through topics and decisions affecting a whole team, but badly-run ones can be detrimental to productivity.

The skill of planning and running an efficient meeting that stays on track and finishes on time is an important one in the manager’s skill set, especially as more and more meetings have ‘virtual’ attendees or even take place entirely in the cloud. Structured systems like de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’, once considered abstract, are becoming more commonplace.

Giving Feedback

Discussing personal performance, particularly when there is constructive criticism to give, is one of the most difficult tasks a manager faces. The knowledge that there are positive ways to approach this task, however, is valuable. Making sure that performance discussions are regular, primarily positive and involve SMART objectives that give employees responsibility for improving their performance, produces the best results

Project Planning

It’s vital for managers to establish what work needs to be done in a project and then ensure that it is all completed by an established deadline. They must have the skills to delegate to their team members when appropriate and communicate effectively with them at all times, as well as hold people accountable for doing what they say they will do.

Invest in Management Skills

Investing in the upskilling of your management is one of the most effective and reliable ways to drive growth, innovation and employee engagement.

Through the reformed apprenticeship system, organisations can now access accredited programmes of management development training for employees of any age or experience. The new management apprenticeships at Level 3 for Team Leaders/Supervisors and the Level 5 standard for Operations/Departmental Managers have been designed by industry in the context of contemporary workplace changes and challenges like digital transformation, ‘agile’ thinking and leading dispersed teams. Organisations of any size can access significant Government funding towards these training costs.

Article by Anthony Fray of Eliesha Training.

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