Top Team Management Skills for the New Year

BY C. Lee Smith
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Entrepreneurs know which skills they need to ensure that a new product is properly designed, manufactured and delivered to customers. To accomplish these tasks, their employees may excel at math, coding or logistics. But great organizations also strive to build team management skills for the employees who lead others.

Back in the day, employees rose to management positions by excelling at specific parts of their jobs. When they added the word “manager” to their titles, they didn’t always possess the skills needed to lead or inspire others. And they didn’t receive training to boost their team management skills. Some of these managers saw high turnover in their departments, often because they didn’t know how to give employees what they needed to perform at a high level.

Team Management Skills Include Power Skills

In analyzing the differences between high-​performing organizations and those that are struggling to grow, PMI analysts studied the concept of “power skills.” Also known as soft skills, when managers show empathy and the ability to listen, employees sense they are valued. But to truly grow in today’s competitive business environment, best-​in-​class organizations develop their managers to improve additional power skills, including communication and collaborative leadership. Not all businesses have made the development of power skills a priority. PMI research shows that 51% of the training budget goes toward developing the technical skills of team members, while only 25% goes to power skills.

Beyond that, researchers find that organizations don’t typically measure power skills in teams. When they do, common methods include performance assessment, manager assessments or standardized testing. Researchers note: “Connecting team performance to power skills through team-​based assessments could yield increased organizational efficiency.”  Using workforce analytics can make a huge difference, because managers can understand which team members have desired skills and which team members will work well together.


Communication ranked as the most critical power skill across industries in the Annual PMI Global Survey on Project Management report. Similarly, in an Indeed survey taken by hiring managers, good communication ranked in the top five of desired soft skills for candidates they interview. In addition, as a team management skill, good communication rules.

Our research of sales professionals shows that nearly 35% believe their manager fails to motivate the team properly. This shortcoming can be directly linked to effective communication. When a manager explains a project to an employee, they must do so in a way that the employee understands. 

Communication also comes into play when a manager must inspire the team to take on a challenging project. And nowhere is communication more important than when the manager must address shortcomings. Whether talking to one person or the entire team, using the right words and communication style can make the difference between mediocrity and great success.

Collaborative Leadership

Successful team management skills also require engaging in collaborative leadership. While managers accept ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of a project, they can’t get the work done without the support of their team. But managers can no longer succeed with a “my way or the highway” mindset. Our research shows the best managers “listen to team member recommendations and thoughts,” and “they work alongside their team.” A collaborative leader listens, works hard and models positivity no matter how challenging the situation becomes. Through this demonstration of team management skills, they find their best chances of success.

Team Management Skills for the New Year

You likely started the year by identifying several goals for your team to achieve. And you likely use common metrics, such as delivering a product on time and on budget, to track progress. Unfortunately, poor team management skills by your project leaders can stall momentum toward your goals.

As PMI analysts noted, organizations met only 65% of their goals when they didn’t prioritize power skills. Likewise, the lack of good power skills on the part of project leaders also led to higher “scope creep” and “budget loss.” Don’t let this happen to your organization. Use workforce analytics to identify team member strengths and weaknesses. Then develop the right team management skills for key employees.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.