What Skills are Needed for Business Management?

The modern business world is an incredibly complex space. Advances in technology have nearly rendered international boundaries and geographical distance irrelevant in terms of commerce, paving the way for a global, interconnected economy and expansion into international markets. Companies can now interact with customers in more ways than ever before through social media and other platforms, which also opens the doors for more incendiary PR issues and an instant, dramatic effect on an entire audience. Even the structure of work is changing, with more employees able (and seeking) to work remotely, and greater attention being paid to forming an effective work-life balance.

This puts pressure on business managers across industries, demanding that they navigate a variety of new, pressing challenges. While leaders in business have always needed to be both knowledgeable in their industry and adept at communicating with workers, these functions have evolved a great deal.

For example, the movement towards creating more employee-centered companies means that, potentially, business leaders would be accountable to more than just their board or their supervisors, but also to their staff. They need to be able to simultaneously balance the challenges facing their organization and the needs of their employees.

With that in mind, there are a number of fundamental business management skills that can help any modern leader guide their teams efficiently, help sustain productivity, and encourage innovation from the ground up in this sometimes daunting environment. Some of them have been essential to the business world since well before business began to take a broader, more global shape, but others are entirely new sensibilities required by contemporary business.

Business Management Skills for a New Era

If you’re wondering how to improve your management skills and drive towards organizational goals, consider trying to develop the following aptitudes as a starting point.

Effectively utilizing new organizational tools

In modern workplaces, collaboration tools have made the process of organizing and assigning project tasks incredibly simple, offering remote users access to project details from anywhere with an internet connection. Beyond that, meeting tools like join.me have even made it possible for multiple users across different locations to share the same screen for the sake of presentations, document review, and collaboration during meetings.

Tools like these can make coordinating possible from anywhere, which complements the growing focus on remote work nicely. However, even if your team isn’t well-suited to working from home, project tracking tools can still help everyone in an office coordinate effectively on accountabilities and expectations. The manager’s job is to ensure that these platforms are used effectively to capitalize on the features they offer, and don’t leave (or the manager themselves) confused as to how they’re best used.

Communicating across cultures

As business globalizes, it’s becoming more essential for even department-level managers to be aware of cultural norms. What serves to motivate or drive home project goals for an American audience may not work at all with an international team. Aside from that, the client-side courtesies expected by Americans might be offensive or uncomfortable for natives of another country.

You may be called upon to quickly adapt your leadership style to suit an entirely new set of interactions. This can be a difficult, jarring process for those who either aren’t willing to adjust or don’t have an expansive grasp of international business customs. Being able to enter a brand new cultural environment and shift rapidly to suit another culture’s norms can do a great deal for any business professional. Establishing yourself as a valuable asset in international business is certainly one way to open new doors.

Being flexible with different productivity styles

Constant access to social media and other sites might seem reason enough to block Facebook and other distractions from your employee’s browsers. That said, while some might look at smartphones, websites, and ready access to social media and see a harmful diversion from productivity, some behavioral experts suggest that allowing these things to exist in the workplace isn’t such a bad idea.

Essentially, this means that managers have to learn the difference between an employee that’s losing focus watching their twitter feed and one that might thrive on the multi-tasking environment that technological advances offer. In general, paying close attention to an employee’s work habits and understanding when they’re getting results, regardless of the process, is still the best way to learn how best to manage them.

Striving to connect with and inspire employees individually

In a recent survey by the Harvard Business Review, 38% of 332,860 professionals responded that the ability to “inspire and motivate others” was the #1 necessary skill across all levels of business leadership. As stated above, being able to recognize what management styles impact your employees, even if it changes on an individual basis, can make a significant difference in the success of your team. Employees, particularly Millenials, want to understand their part in a grander design, and know that there’s a reason they’re doing the work they’re doing. This requires strong communication skills, and a knack for getting to know the things that make your employees unique and pushing them to succeed by using those attributes.

LTU offers practical online degree programs in a variety of industries that offer specialized courses in business and project management. Learn more about our online Master of Business Administration, Master of Architecture, Master of Engineering, Management, Master of Construction Engineering Management, Master of Civil Engineering, Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, and Master of Science in Information Technology.