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Hen's teeth? The management skills in high demand across Australia

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 14:32

Ever been told you're as rare as a hen's tooth? Well in the current workplace, that's exactly what many managers are if they can combine their soft skills with the knowledge they have of their industry or team focus.

Of course, those who aspire to "hen's tooth" status face a constant battle to keep developing their skills. Beyond the well-known areas like emotional intelligence, there are a whole range of less common skills that can help managers stand out. 

So which skills are in high demand? We've assembled this list of skills that can help you stand out like a rooster's pearly whites.

1) The ability to diagnose cost inefficiencies

Problem-solving is one of many core day-to-day responsibilities for managers but it's also a skill that has to be turned towards cost-cutting at a procedural level in a way that improves a company's financial performance. 

This means finding opportunities to "work smarter, not harder", while also boosting a company's bottom line.

This skill was cited by recruitment firm Hays as one of the most important abilities for individuals to pursue. They explained that Australian firms are looking for areas to cut costs and deliver performance improvements, and it often falls on managers within the organisation to spot them.

As the report put it, this means finding opportunities to "work smarter, not harder", while also boosting a company's bottom line. 

This might sound like an area where technical knowledge is important, it's equally valuable for individuals to have the commercial and strategic perspective to spot these inefficiencies and formulate a plan to address them.

Identifying cost savings is a management skill that's in high demand.

2) Taking initiative on group goals

Many managers will have seen how quickly group projects can be sabotaged by one person riding on the coat-tails of their teammates. While this can be frustrating when leading a team, it can be even harder if it begins to occur among a team of senior managers. At this level, poor teamwork can begin to affect the company's performance.

Part of this problem tracks back to the so-called "prisoner's dilemma" which many managers will be familiar with. In a group setting, there's no incentive to work harder than others, while there's no downside to simply putting in the bare minimum of effort to complete a project.

However, teamwork is becoming even more central to competitive organisations, which is perhaps why taking initiative to accomplish group goals was the top 'soft skill' that set apart great managers, according to the University of Florida. This involves actively pursuing organisational goals and devoting your own time to achieving them, rather than taking a back seat.

The solution for executives is to work on their people skills and build a rapport with staff.

3) Engaging with individual workers

This one is particularly relevant for those in executive positions who might not be in direct contact with individual employees. For many executives who have risen through management roles, this change can make it harder for them to remain in touch with the company's everyday performance.

Further research from Hays emphasised that the solution for executives was to work on their people skills and build a rapport with staff. This familiarity can ensure they are able to better understand the company's challenges and formulate a strategy to match.

In particular, the report pointed to professional development as a way for executives to learn how to build a high-level strategic focus while still maintaining relationships with individual workers.

Meeting the demand for management skills

Building your skills to reach that hen's tooth status is no easy feat - it requires you to invest time and effort into identifying your own skill shortages and the areas where there is room for you to improve your own abilities. However, what these three areas reveal is that it doesn't take a paradigm shift in you management style to achieve these outcomes. It's these small, specific tweaks that make all the difference between a good manager and a great one.

AIM has an unrivalled breadth and depth of training options offered right across Australia, including over 100 short courses with a range of subject areas including; Management and Leadership, Project Management, Human Resources, Sales and Marketing and Professional Development. Learning emphasis is placed on contemporary, interactive case studies that are applicable to participants workplace to ensure you receive immediate value from your learning.