The United States Department of Labor estimates the employment of people in management positions will increase six percent across the nation by 2024. With more than 505,000 new managerial positions expected to be available in the American job market in the relatively near future, you may be wondering if you have the business management skills necessary to fill one of them. Whether you want to be a manager of administrative services, advertising, computer and information systems, or something else, it’s likely you’ll need the appropriate combination of education, personality traits, and work experience to move up the corporate ladder.
A recent study of online job listings for management positions revealed that more than 80 percent of the job postings required prospective candidates to have at least a Bachelor’s degree. The same study reported that more than 60 percent of online job postings for managerial positions list four years of work experience as a requirement applicants must satisfy.
After conducting a poll of more than 800 executives from around the world, Egon Zehnder reported that the majority of global business leaders believes a person’s inherent personality traits are the biggest indicator of whether or not the individual will be a good or a great manager. The study also revealed that 86 percent of these executives agreed that business leaders will “have to take on unforeseen leadership roles and responsibilities more often.”
While your personality traits, including your personal drive and ambition to succeed, cannot be taught, you can acquire the credentials you need to be considered for a management position by continuing your education. Even if you’re not interested in pursuing a degree, you can develop management skills that will help you assume unexpected roles and responsibilities simply by taking business-related courses on campus or online.
Business Management Courses
More than 50 percent of Fortune 100 chief executive officers hold a college degree in one of the following three areas of study: business, economics, or accounting. Another 14 percent of this group studied law during their years in college. As you learn how to develop management skills while continuing your education, you will be able to take classes that introduce you to each of these concentrations. You’ll be able to enroll in subsequent classes that will further your knowledge of the topics that will be most useful to you in your career as well.
If you’ve ever wondered if studying business management is hard, you’ll be relieved to know that learning about business management involves many introductory courses that you’d probably have to take if you were pursuing a degree in another area of study. Even if you’re not pursuing a degree, typical courses that have the potential to help you acquire useful business management skills so you can succeed in the “real world” include general classes, math-focused courses, behavioral classes, and management skills courses.
Here are some of the courses you may end up taking if you decide to learn how to develop additional management skills:
- General classes: General course work normally includes classes that cover the humanities, social and natural sciences, and technology. While you might be wondering how taking courses in these overarching subject areas can advance your business acumen, the fact is that you can learn a lot of practical information in these areas. Studying these subjects can help you improve your written and oral communication skills as well as your technical abilities, for example. You can also develop cross-cultural competency, an ability which is expected to become one of the ten most important skills in the workforce by 2020.
Taking an ethics course can help you identify the specific moral and ethical standards which you will adhere to in any business situation and identify future employers who share the same standards. In addition to ethics, general studies typically include other specific courses such as English, philosophy, American and world history, biology, basic computer programming, and an introduction to information technology.
- Math-focused courses: Across industries, managers generally need to have sound math skills. As a result, your set of business management skills needs to include mathematical abilities. Fortunately, there are many courses available that will teach you how to develop management skills in math. These classes include economics, statistics, and managerial accounting and finance. These courses will help you acquire the knowledge you need to forecast sales and revenue projections, establish budgets, prepare financial statements, recognize industry trends, and perform analyses.
They will also teach you to set numerical performance standards and recognize underperforming or overachieving individuals, departments, and divisions. Since they involve math equations, these classes will help you to fine-tune your problem-solving skills as well.
- Behavioral classes: For some, the hardest part of being an executive is managing people. However, it’s a skill that can be learned, and by taking some behavioral courses, you can acquire the ability to better understand and manage others. In addition to your staff, the lessons you learn can also be applied to your interactions with your bosses, peers, external clients, and vendors — among others.
Your business management training may include courses such as an introduction to psychology, marketing, group dynamics, and human resources. The knowledge you gain from behavioral classes can help you to manage a multicultural workforce effectively. It can also prepare you to create marketing and sales campaigns which target specific demographic groups.
- Management skills courses: You can develop your management skills further by taking courses that focus on teaching you some specific abilities which may help you succeed in the business world. Taking a class in business law, for instance, will help you to understand the complexities of the legal issues businesses must face on occasion.
Additional management skills courses include business strategy, organizational management, and quality management. In addition to acquiring specific abilities, you’ll further enhance the problem-solving skills you’ll need to be an effective manager through your studies in this area.
Business Management Skills Necessary for Success
In some instances, you can get a job as an employee simply by having the technical abilities to perform the tasks necessary to fill the job’s requirements. To be a manager, however, having only technical skills is not enough. To secure a managerial position, you must have both the technical skills and the soft skills which are necessary to lead a team, a project, or an entire organization.
Here are some of the soft skills which are valued most by employers:
- Honesty: You need to be honest and trustworthy in all of your business dealings to be an effective manager. Your staff members will mimic your desired behavior when they trust that you are honest with them. You can demonstrate your honesty by speaking directly to people and communicating the precise point you are trying to relay to them, even when the news you’re delivering is less than ideal.
- Written communication: In general, managers do a lot of communicating by using the written word. From emails, to proposals, to reports, to performance reviews, your writing will communicate critical ideas and findings to your staff, bosses, board members, and clients on a regular basis. With this fact in mind, it’s necessary for you to develop business writing skills that are sufficient to communicate your messages concisely and accurately without errors.
- Verbal communication: Verbal communication skills are also critical to your success as a manager. It’s likely you will need to make a verbal presentation in front of an audience once in a while — or as a part of your normal work routine. Despite public speaking being the second biggest fear among adult Americans, you must develop the ability to verbally communicate your message in both one-on-one and group settings.
- Active listening: A big part of being an effective communicator and manager is having active listening skills. You can demonstrate that you are actively listening to someone by visibly reacting to what the person is saying. Nodding your head, changing your facial expression and stance, asking questions, and repeating back some of what has been said to you are actions that demonstrate the information someone is telling you is important. Actively listening helps maintain the trust your staff has in you, and it can help you build lasting relationships with your colleagues.
- Emotional intelligence: When you’re managing others, you need to have the emotional intelligence to be able to lead them both as a team and as individuals. You need to recognize who isn’t capable of working without specific instructions and those who are able to perform their jobs independently. You also have to know what motivates each of your employees. Some may be inspired to go the extra mile in order to receive a financial bonus, while others may simply seek the satisfaction that comes with knowing they did a good job on an assignment.
- Work ethic: Successful managers often lead by example, meaning their staff works as hard or as little as they do. By having a strong work ethic, you can inspire your team to exceed the goals you’ve set for each employee as well as the benchmarks set for your department.
- Self-reflecting: When you’re in a leadership role, you should be your own toughest critic. You need to be willing and able to review your individual job performance and look for areas in which you can improve. You should also admit to any mistakes you’ve made and take responsibility for any of your team’s failures.
Once you’ve identified areas you can improve in and the errors you’ve made, you should develop a plan to overcome your weaknesses and avoid similar mistakes in the future. Being self-reflective allows you to be proactive in situations you’ve dealt with in the past instead of reactive when they occur again down the line.
- Focus: As a manager, you must remain focused on the goals your employer has set for you and your team. This focus includes staying abreast of the things your competitors are doing which may interfere with your employer’s plans. It also includes staying focused on your team’s performance and helping your staff members achieve their individual goals by providing feedback and acting as a mentor. It involves continually improving and increasing your business management skills with hands-on, online, or classroom training as well.
Here is a list of some of the technical skills you’ll need to develop in order to excel as a manager:
- Strategic planning: In a managerial role, you need to prepare strategic plans which include contingencies for almost any imaginable scenario. Your plans need to be flexible enough for you to adapt them to address new risks that may appear on the horizon and firm enough that your employees know what they need to do to perform their jobs properly and handle unexpected emergencies.
Your plans should address both the short- and-long-terms and provide benchmarks your team can work to achieve. In general, your strategic plans should identify the direction your team should go — no matter how little or how much the general business climate or your immediate working environment changes.
- Project management: Whether you’re dealing with a multi-million-dollar project or one that has a comparatively smaller budget, you have to be able to manage the workload involved as well as the staff members who are responsible for executing that workload. By overseeing a project, delegating responsibility for certain aspects of it, and monitoring the project’s progress, you can greatly increase the odds that your project will be finished on time and within your budget. Effective project management and working toward a shared objective with your staff can also help you to establish a rapport with your team and unite your team’s members.
- Financial aptitude: The number one reason that causes businesses to fail is poor financial planning or a complete lack of such planning. As a manager, you must have an understanding of the cash flows you’re responsible for. You must be able to prepare financial statements and analyze fiscal data that will help you identify opportunities to increase revenues and/or decrease expenses. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a multinational corporation, the manager of the local grocery store’s produce department, or the head of your own small business. You must have the financial acumen to understand your business’ finances and the ability to use the information you get from them to make adjustments to your operations as needed.
- Organizational skills: If you’re a manager, you need organizational skills that go far beyond keeping the surface of your desk free from jumbled papers and lunch leftovers. You need to have the ability to organize your department by making sure the appropriate people are in the jobs which are best suited to them.
You also need to set up processes, guides, and systems which will keep your team’s workflow organized and consistent even when you’re not available to oversee what your staff is doing firsthand. By organizing your department effectively, you can greatly increase production and efficiency.
- Decision-making abilities: As an executive, you normally have to make decisions throughout every workday. In order to make the right decisions consistently, you need to be able to analyze data, situations, people, and circumstances accurately. You also have to evaluate the options available to you and choose the one that best matches the big picture provided by your overall strategic plan.
If you’re interested in developing management skills that can help you advance in your career but don’t have the time to pursue a degree right now, you can still continue your education with Vista College. Our online and on-campus business classes are built around a flexible schedule created with working professionals just like you in mind. To start acquiring the skills you’ll need to make it to the next wrung of the corporate ladder, enroll in one of our affordable business management courses today.