Workplace Skills Business Managers Need

People working on a project
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Acting as a business manager can be a challenging career path. It is a role with incredible responsibility, from reaching goals in terms of sales to managing office productivity. While your specific duties can vary from company to company, all business managers are tasked with keeping their departments making progress and working at peak efficiency.

To succeed as a business manager, you need to have the following skills:

Motivational Talents

To be effective, you need to be able to inspire, lead, and drive people to produce their best work. You cannot do this without a professional presence and charisma. You need to earn the respect and trust of your employees so they are willing to go above and beyond for you to help the company meet its production goals and business objectives. Key motivational skills in the workplace include:

  • Assessing individual and team strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits
  • Defining effective motivational strategies
  • Conveying expectations and responsibilities for work roles and projects
  • Providing constructive feedback to team members
  • Recognizing achievements by individual contributors
  • Mediating conflict between team members
  • Implementing consequences for substandard work

Planning & Organization

As a business manager, you will usually be given directives from senior-level executives, with goals or earning minimums you have to meet. It is your job to find out how to make those objectives possible, from planning new business directions to identifying ways to streamline work processes to save time and money. A few examples of planning and organizational responsibilities include:

  • Physical organization (staff scheduling, resource management, creative thinking)
  • Planning (strategic planning, workforce planning, decision making, project management, outsourcing decisions)
  • Teamwork (task delegation, collaboration, goal setting, project benchmarking, leadership)
  •  Event coordination (staff meetings, conferences, workshops, seasonal celebrations)
  • Quarterly and annual financial and project reporting 

Communication

To effectively work with your team, you need to be a top-notch communicator. You need excellent verbal skills to convey your expectations and feedback, but you also need to be able to listen attentively to figure out areas of weakness or difficulty. In addition, you need to have a strong executive presence so you can present yourself as poised and professional when meeting with business leaders and community officials. Important communications skills include:

  • Active listening
  • Friendliness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Feedback (clarity, concision, positive reinforcement)
  • Confidence
  • Nonverbal communications (body language, eye contact, the tone of voice, hand gestures)
  • Empathy
  • Respect

Decision Making

As the business manager, you do not have the luxury of someone else making key decisions; that responsibility falls to you. You will make decisions every day, some minor and some extremely impactful. You need to be prepared and efficient at evaluating a situation, identifying your options, and choosing a course of action that works best for your business.

These decisions can be hard; they may involve difficult choices such as whether or not to fire someone or to lay off a whole team. You need to be ready to make the tough choices for the good of the business. Typical decisions you will make include:

  • Hiring and termination decisions
  • Team creation and management
  • Task allotment
  • Promotion decisions
  • Overtime scheduling
  • Budget allocations

Technology 

As a business manager, you must stand ready to communicate around the clock with both employees and executives. Thus, you’ll need to be adept with smartphone apps, virtual meeting software, and other programs. Project management software will also be necessary to keep track of progress and employee responsibilities. Software technologies frequently used in business offices include:

  • Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook)
  • QuickBooks or other accounting software
  • Video conferencing technologies like Skype or Zoom
  • Customer relationship management systems
  • Inventory control systems
  • Project management software (Microsoft Project, SAP for Project Management, Evernote)

If you like making decisions and acting as a leader, then a career as a business manager may be for you. It requires a broad range of skills, from comfort with technology to communicating effectively. Beyond these skills, you'll need to be thick-skinned, courageous, and willing to take risks if it means a good return for the business. It's an exciting career that does not get boring since each day is different than the one before.