While practically all technologists start their careers as individual contributors, most hope to transition into management in time. Often, successfully moving in that direction requires more than strong technical capabilities. After all, once you start leading others, you’ll spend less time handling daily tasks and more time guiding teams or departments.
As a result, your soft skills become a critical part of the equation. If you want to make sure you’re honing the right soft skills to expedite or support your move into a management position, here are some tips that can help.
Understand the Power of Active Listening
Active listening is an incredibly powerful tool. By focusing on what other people are sharing instead of preparing for your next chance to speak, you aren’t distracted. As a result, the odds of missing a critical detail go down significantly.
Additionally, active listening creates opportunities to learn more than you’d expect. You’ll gather details about pain points, goals, and motivations, giving you a chance to customize your approach to conversations in ways that lead to stronger relationships. Plus, you may end up with opportunities to genuinely help someone who’s struggling, increasing the odds that you’ll be viewed as an insightful asset to the company.
Learn the Fine Art of Gentle Persuasion
Managers don’t just present their ideas and concerns; they secure buy-in by using the fine art of gentle persuasion. Often, that means forgoing the hard sell and avoiding making demands. Instead, it requires the strategic expression of thoughts, ensuring those you’re speaking with see the value in your position.
Along with presentation and negotiation skills, empathy plays a big part in gentle persuasion. It allows you to understand another person’s beliefs and perspective better, giving you a chance to update how you discuss a topic accordingly.
Don’t Underestimate Customer Service
In the end, every professional serves some customer. Whether it’s a traditional consumer, a business client, or an internal team or stakeholder, there’s a customer in the equation.
That’s why customer service skills are so vital. Management often has to maintain positive relationships with the people they directly assist. By knowing how to learn about customer needs and respond in ways that are mutually beneficial, you’ll be far more effective in a leadership role.
Navigating and Managing Conflict
Even in the most productive and positive work environment, conflict happens. Whether it’s a company leader not agreeing with your position on an issue or a colleague disagreeing with a project approach, it is critical to know how to diffuse tension and navigate conflict before it becomes disruptive.
As a manager, you may have to mediate conflict between team members while also dealing with disagreements between you and other leaders. By honing your conflict management skills early, you’ll be ready when that day arrives.
Ultimately, all of the tips above can help you use your soft skills to move into management. If you’d like to learn more, the staff at The Squires Group can help. Contact us today.