Different job levels require different skills. However, most people who get promoted to a new level don’t understand the skills that will help them succeed in that new role.
One of the most difficult transitions happen from individual contributor to manager for a team where emphasis shifts from technical skills to people skills. A crucial people skill at all levels and particularly important for first-time and mid-level managers is assertive communication.
A crucial people skill at all levels and particularly important for first-time and mid-level managers is assertive communication.
Assertive communication skills are people skills for advocating for self, for others, and for goals. They include giving and receiving feedback, making requests, setting boundaries, being decisive, handling conflict, expressing ideas and disagreement.
Assertiveness skills are necessary for most soft skills such as effective collaboration, teamwork, stakeholder management, managing up, communication, time management, negotiation, adaptability, problem-solving and leadership.
Here are the top assertiveness skills needed at each career level.
Individual Contributor Skills
Individual contributor’s goal is to do their job well and to be more independent over time in their role. For that they need to fast-track their learning of their role, the department culture, and the interaction preferences of their boss and key stakeholders.
Leveraging feedback is one of the most important skills for the individual contributor or entry level position, because it accelerates learning and alignment with managers and other stakeholders. Individual contributors should proactively and regularly ask for specific feedback from the people they work with and for.
Leveraging feedback is one of the most important skills for the individual contributor or entry level position, because it accelerates learning and alignment with managers and other stakeholders.
Individual contributors should also be comfortable expressing their needs and personal boundaries and actively promote themselves and their ideas for growth. For example, asking for their managers to help prioritize between tasks.
Other skills including sharing feedback with peers, expressing ideas in 1-on-1s and meetings, advocating and promoting themselves for growth, making tactical and task decisions, and handling conflict with peers and clients.
Entry Level Manager Skills
Entry level and first-time managers need to focus on managing their team of individual contributors to deliver on the goals. One of the key challenges frontline managers face is keeping their team motivated. Lack of appreciation is one of the top reasons people leave their jobs. Yet a majority of first-time managers don’t receive the soft skills training they need to transition into the role successfully.
Lack of appreciation is one of the top reasons people leave their jobs. Yet a majority of first-time managers don’t receive the soft skills training they need to transition into the role successfully.
Keeping team happy and delivering results requires assertiveness skills such as giving constructive feedback and praiseoften, communicating and protecting the work scope and priorities, and negotiating resources to develop. It also includes skills such as advocating for the team, handling team and external conflict, and making tactical business and team decisions like distribution of tasks, recruitment, development, promotions, and firing.
First time managers are also expected to contribute more in meetings. They also communicate assertively when they manage up, receive feedback, manage stakeholders, and advocate for themselves.
Mid-Level Manager Skills
Mid-level managers still have a strong emphasis on team, however not at a tactical level because they manage entry level managers who are more likely to be self-motivated.
Mid-level managers align with the strategic vision set by the executives and transform those into a more detailed plan.
Therefore, mid-level managers require the same assertive communication skills as front-line managers, but they also need to make strong strategic decisions and advocate for the strategic goals of the business.
Upper management focuses on long-term planning. The top assertiveness skills needed for top leadership include expressing the vision and plan internally and externally, to promote and advocate for the vision, and to be decisive around strategic decisions. Top leadership also set the tone for the company culture.
Whatever level you are in the organization, make sure you understand the skillset required to be successful at that level, and proactively get the right training.
To start to develop your assertive communication skills, visit our assertiveness free resources page here.