5 Essential Skills for Line Managers in 2024

5 Essential Skills for Line Managers in 2024

Revamp Your Line Management Skills: Master 5 Essential Techniques for Line Managers in 2024!

Are you tired of the same old management techniques? Stay ahead of the game by taking your line management to the next level. Discover the top 5 essential techniques for line managers to master in 2024.

“It’s highly likely that every employee will assume the role of a manager or leader at some point in their career.”

As more individuals enter management roles, progressive line managers are searching for innovative strategies to enhance their teams. Thus, it is essential for managers to acquire key techniques in managing employees as they transform from being team contributors to team leaders.

In this article, you’ll discover the top line management techniques you need to master to succeed and excel in 2023.

Management Assessment

As a line manager, it’s crucial to be aware of your default management style. However, it’s not often that we take the time to assess how we manage. Did you know that there are three main management styles you can default to as a line manager: democratic, autocratic and laissez-faire? Identifying your default approach will help you understand which management styles you need to refine to become a well-rounded and effective leader.

How can I assess my default management style?

Discover your go-to management style with our free self-assessment. In just 10 minutes, this questionnaire will evaluate and provide feedback on your line management style. Use this tool to gain self-awareness as a manager and get a head-start on improving your skills.

Head to your management assessment here.

In addition to understanding yourself as a manager, you can develop your managerial skills with our line management training.

Managing Your Team

In 2023, it’s not just the employees who require ongoing growth and improvement – their managers do too. Stay ahead of the game by investing in the development of your entire team. Learn how by mastering the basics of the Skill – Will matrix.

What is Skill Will Matrix?

The Skill Will Matrix is a helpful tool for assessing the performance of employees based on their skills and willingness to complete a task. It was inspired by The Situational Leadership Model, developed by Paul Hersey and Blanchard in the 1970’s to match leadership style to individual situations and improve overall team performance. Use this matrix to evaluate your team’s capabilities and commitment and improve their overall productivity and results.

If you’re a line manager looking to develop your employees’ performance, the Skill Will Matrix is a valuable tool to consider. This tool evaluates two crucial factors: skill levels (also referred to as capabilities) and will power (also referred to as commitment to the task). 

Assessing Your Team With The Skill Will Matrix

In a nutshell, skill is how capable a worker is at a specific task or in their role, while will is the level of motivation they have to perform well. Evaluating skill is often more straightforward, as it can be measured objectively. However, will and commitment can be influenced by factors like personal/professional goals, their motivation at the time, and workplace culture.

If an employee’s motivation falters, it’s essential to identify the root cause. While some skills come naturally, others can be developed over time. But with the right management, you can get the best from your team. Let’s explore how to keep your team performing at their best.

To effectively manage your team, start by assessing where each employee is in terms of their capability and commitment level. This will help you determine which management style to use for each team member.

A Management Example

For example, if someone is highly capable and committed, a light touch will suffice. However, for employees with low capability and commitment, direct instruction and performance monitoring are necessary. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone and adapt your approach to each individual.

By doing so, you’ll be able to effectively build team performance and become a more agile line manager. Knowing when and how to adjust your approach will build stronger team performance by adopting individualised management styles. Think of it as a cheat code for effective team management.

Looking to become an expert line manager? Try these helpful resources

Line Manager Course by Train in a Day

Line Management Articles at Mind Tools

Line Management Books at Amazon

As a manager, when you strive for personal growth and development, it can have a positive impact not only on your own success but also on the performance and engagement of your employees. Keep pushing yourself to be the best version of you, and watch as your team thrives alongside you.

Discover more ways to develop your management skills.

line manager skills for 2023

Delegation for Line Managers

Effective delegation not only saves time, but also enhances your leadership skills and helps your team grow professionally. It equips you to manage bigger teams and motivates employees to perform better. As you progress as a line manager, mastering delegation is crucial for personal development and the growth of your team. 

By gradually delegating more responsibilities to your team, you improve productivity and become even more efficient. As a manager, cultivating a healthy work culture and promoting collaboration and organisation among your team is a priority. Delegating will enable you to achieve that goal.

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”

John Maxwell

Line managers should delegate the appropriate tasks to the appropriate people, at the appropriate time. Learning how to delegate effectively is a key line managerial skill.

The Benefits of Delegating As A Line Manager

Delegation is difficult. You have to trust other people to do the work. Managers who know how to delegate well are happier and help their team be successful. Benefits of effective delegation include:

Create valuable time in your workday – As a manager, juggling numerous demands can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed. However, by delegating tasks, you can free up your time, allowing you to focus on more important responsibilities – those which you are paid appropriately for.

Develop your team’s skills – when you delegate well and across your team, you increase your team’s skills base, while also enhancing their productivity potential.

Efficient and empowering – delegating tasks can improve your team’s overall efficiency by ensuring that each employee is equally responsible for contributing to the success of your team.

How To Delegate Well

Effective delegation requires clear expectations and support for a task to be completed successfully. This means defining what success looks like and how you will measure it. Ensure that your team members have all the information and resources they need to achieve their goals. By doing so, you empower them to work independently and increase productivity.

More specifically, the key steps for delegating as a line manager include:

  • Choose the right person for the task. Knowing team members’ talents is key to effective line management. For example, delegate teamwork tasks to individuals who work well with others.
  • Clarify the desired outcome – To get the results you want from your team, make sure you clearly communicate your expectations. This will help them plan and carry out their work effectively. Create specific benchmarks to monitor progress without being overly controlling. With clear expectations in place, your team can deliver the best possible outcome.
  • Provide training where needed. Make sure everyone has what they need to get the job done. Support them by pointing them in the direction of courses and tools that can help fill any gaps in their knowledge. Offer opportunities for people to develop new skills and access useful resources. 
  • Set the tone for growth – As a line manager, it’s important to foster a workplace culture where individuals feel comfortable taking initiative, asking questions, and making decisions that drive success. By creating this supportive environment, you’ll gain insight into your employees that enables you to delegate tasks more effectively.
  • Review and feedback – Improve delegation by giving feedback. Recognize and appreciate employees who complete tasks well, and provide constructive feedback for those who are falling short. Acknowledging their efforts will boost productivity and commitment, and set clear expectations for future work. This motivates workers to take on more responsibilities and strive for success.

Giving Feedback As A Line Manager

“Empower Your Employees with Effective Feedback: Informal or Formal, it Makes a Difference in Performance!”

Providing feedback to employees on their work performance, skills, or other aspects of their job can make a significant positive impact on their motivation and productivity. Whether it’s a casual conversation regarding an observed skill or part of a formal evaluation process, properly communicating feedback is key to providing your team with the tools they need to succeed. Improve your team’s performance by developing your skills in delivering feedback effectively.

If you’re a line manager, it’s important to give constructive feedback. This means giving clear and specific suggestions on how they can improve in a certain area. While it may address negative behaviours, such as an employee completing a task incorrectly, it also offers helpful information to guide and support their growth, rather than simply praising or criticising them. Remember, learning constructive feedback is a valuable tool for your own development.

To deliver constructive feedback effectively, consider these major points:

  • Share only what you observe. Don’t jump to conclusions about others’ actions without first giving them a chance to share their perspective. Approach issues as observable facts and listen to their point of view. This will help to be specific about the feedback you’re presenting.
  • Specific, not vague. Effective feedback requires specificity. Vague criticism without clear guidance for improvement is unhelpful and frustrating. To achieve desired results, balance both positive and negative feedback but make sure you are addressing a specific observation or task. This approach lets individuals know what they have done well, why, and what requires further work.
  • It’s business, not personal – When offering feedback, it’s crucial to separate the person from their actions. Instead, focus on the specific issue or performance in question, without making sweeping judgements about their character. For instance, it’s better to point out specific errors in a monthly report and encourage checking data from multiple sources, rather than accusing someone of being careless or lacking attention to detail. If your feedback comes across as a personal attack, the recipient is more likely to feel defensive and disregard your input altogether.
  • Consistent and timely – Make constructive criticism a regular part of your conversations and meetings with the person you’re giving feedback to. This approach ensures that you both have the same expectations and performance levels. It also helps you to provide timely and relevant feedback when significant performance issues arise. Don’t wait for days or even weeks before giving feedback, feedback should never be a surprise. Discuss it while the work is still fresh in your minds, and all the context is still top of mind. This way, you can have a productive conversation and move forward.

Having Courageous Conversations

As a manager, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you need to discuss a sensitive or contentious development with an employee? These conversations can bring up complex emotions that are difficult to navigate. It’s important to prepare for these situations in order to have the most successful outcome. That’s why we call them courageous conversations.

Do you struggle with initiating difficult conversations in the workplace? Whether it’s addressing poor performance, investigating reports of bullying, or delivering bad news, it’s natural to feel intimidated. But delaying action can make the situation worse, causing negative consequences for all involved. It’s better to tackle issues early, prevent escalation, and maintain good working relationships. While emotions can be intense and complex in these situations, with the right approach, preparation, and skills, you can effectively handle these conversations and achieve a successful outcome.

What Does This Mean For Line Managers?

Clear and effective line management requires the ability to discuss sensitive and emotional topics. This is essential for managing performance, improving attendance, and promoting positive team dynamics. Luckily, there are practical steps you can take to manage these conversations and achieve the best outcomes for yourself, your employee, and the organisation. 

Let us help you complete courageous conversations with confidence. Learn more about how we do this in our line management training.

How To Have A Courageous Conversation

Having a courageous conversation with an employee is crucial for fostering growth. Learn how to have courageous conversations with your employees and promote their development and improve your team. Follow these important steps to make difficult discussions productive, more comfortable and solution-focused.

  1. Prepare The Groundwork

One-on-one meetings are great for difficult conversations, but be sure to prepare and communicate clearly. Let the other person know ahead of time what you want to discuss so they can prepare and set expectations. Add the topic to your shared agenda or send a neutral message to give them a heads-up. Communication is key.

A typical heads up could go something like this:

“I’d be keen to hear your perspective on the outburst that I witnessed in this morning’s production meeting. Can we talk about it at 2 PM in my office?”

2. Focus on the facts, mitigate your feelings

Take control of your thoughts by recognising and processing your emotions. Acknowledge how you feel, and then separate what you know from what you think or feel. For added objectivity, try pretending that you’re offering advice to a college. This can help you manage your emotions more clearly and effectively.

You can use data to support difficult conversations by compiling notes with specific evidence of employee performance. This can help you to approach the conversation with clarity and confidence.

3. Honesty fosters trust and clarity

To build trust and respect with your employees, encourage open communication by regularly providing feedback and scheduling one-on-one meetings. This approach will make tough conversations feel less intimidating and allow for more candid discussions. During these one-on-one meetings, ask questions to show that you value their input and are open to hearing their thoughts. Consider starting the conversation by stating that you’re open to discussing sensitive topics.

4. Your Goal is Understanding, Not An Absence of Conflict

When dealing with a difficult situation, it’s important to strive for mutual understanding rather than necessarily agreeing on everything. Misunderstandings can often lead to conflicts, so it’s essential to be empathetic and allow your team member to express their perspective before sharing your own.

However, it’s important to note that acknowledging someone’s point of view doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them. By actively listening to your team members, you can demonstrate that you value their input and care about their opinions. This can have a significant impact on team morale and foster a more collaborative and supportive work environment.

Research has shown that employees who feel heard and valued by their superiors are more likely to be engaged and invested in their work. By creating an open and inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable contributing, you can build a strong and cohesive team that is motivated to succeed.

5. Agree a workable way forward

Ensure that every one-on-one meeting ends with clear action items, especially when discussing sensitive topics like disagreements or mistakes. Take time to discuss and decide on a path forward together. Focus on finding productive solutions, not proving a point. Act as a team player and offer support during tough times to build a strong and supportive team.

The key to success is following up on action items. Completing courageous conversations can be challenging, but it ultimately leads to growth. Approach sensitive topics with empathy and care to achieve positive outcomes.

What To Do Now?

Become a better line manager in 2023 by mastering these 5 essential skills. Using these techniques will not only improve your managerial skills but also increase productivity, employee growth, staff retention, and reduce sickness absence. Don’t rely solely on your current knowledge; instead, take advantage of these techniques to supercharge your career growth. Start building a stronger team today!

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