People management is an essential aspect of any business. Developing the right skills is not always easy though, especially if you are a first-time manager. In fact, even experienced managers can struggle with productivity and communication.
This has been especially true since the start of the pandemic as many managers have had to adapt to remote and flexible working models. So much so, in fact, that according to the Harvard Business Review, a large number of managers are struggling with the effective management of people working from home, and this is translating into many workers feeling untrusted and micromanaged by their bosses.
So, what needs to be done to address this shift in working practices?
In this guide, we will discuss what skills you need to be an effective manager, how you can improve your people management skills, and which management strategies you should avoid.
Table of Contents
What is People Management?
People management is the process of training, motivating and managing employees in order to boost performance and promote professional growth. It involves implementing a set of practices that aim to engage, support and optimize talent and maximize productivity. Ultimately, at its core, it’s all about using the right skills to get the most from your workforce.
So, what does it involve?
People management skills are involved in a number of functional areas of human resources, including:
- Training and development
- Recruitment and onboarding
- Compensation and benefits
- Performance management
- Engagement and retention
- Health, safety and wellness
- Internal communication
- Employee engagement
Strategies used in these areas aim to address employee needs and promote career development whilst supporting alignment with company goals and values. And with the right skills, managers are able to communicate, encourage and motivate employees to work to the best of their ability. This makes their teams feel inspired to grow and develop as employees, increasing engagement and retention levels.
People Management Skills for Managers
So, what makes someone a good manager?
As an HR or departmental manager, you are responsible for effectively managing a number of scenarios. Firstly, a large part of your position will involve nurturing a workplace culture that supports growth and development. This also involves providing the right training and encouraging an environment of continuous 360 feedback. This will help to motivate and inspire your employees so that they can fulfil their roles and responsibilities better.
Another important skill is the ability to effectively resolve conflict to promote collaboration and mutual respect between team members. Plus, you need to make sure deadlines are met and things get done. This involves daily support and encouragement. You need to implement a set of skills that help you plan, organize, lead and control the people that work for you so that they have the skills, confidence and resources to perform their activities and reach their goals.
People management also requires soft skills like:
- Having a clear vision and goal
- Being able to communicate effectively
- Active listening skills
- Trusting your employees, and being trustworthy
- Showing empathy
- Connecting with others and being approachable
- Being decisive and flexible
- Being able to motivate your employees
- Showing accountability
- Demonstrating problem-solving skills
- Enabling professional growth
- The ability to give and receive feedback
- Emotional intelligence
How to Improve People Management Skills
As we have seen, effective people management is all about striking up a balance between the right work habits and personality traits. Here are a few practices that can help you improve your own people management skills.
Lead by Example
Firstly, be the change you want to see. Show your employees what it means to be a diligent member of the team. Set the tone for a productive and dynamic work environment and show your staff how they should behave in the workplace.
Get to Know Your Employees
Secondly, get to know your employees. The annual salary review or arbitrary performance review shouldn’t be the only time you meet on a one-to-one basis with your employees. Take the time to get to know each member of your team and connect with them. Find out what motivates them and what their goals are for the future. This will help you understand the potential of each employee so that you can maximize their skills for the good of the company.
Thirdly, focus on your communication. Clear communication is the foundation of any relationship, and the one between manager and employee is no different. Share your vision and goals for the future and make sure your employees are aligned. Encourage employees to communicate any issues or concerns and develop your active listening skills. This will help you nurture healthy interpersonal connections that promote a positive culture and foster productivity. It will also help you collect valuable employee feedback to improve the employee experience.
Offer Development Opportunities
An important skill for any manager is supporting the development of your employees. Implement mentorship programs in your team and provide employees with resources like educational platforms to help them develop their skills. Work with each employee to establish a development plan that aligns their goals for the future with their position within the company. You might even decide to implement a reward and recognition program. This will help your employees feel valued and that their work is worthwhile.
The next step is gaining the trust of your employees. Encourage dialogue and be open to diverse perspectives. Show your team that you have their best interests at heart. This can help develop a sense of empathy in your department and lead to a greater sense of camaraderie, belonging and motivation. Plus, employees at high-trust companies tend to be less stressed and more engaged and productive. Win-win!
Establish Regular Check-ins
Finally, make it a habit to check in regularly with your employees to see how they are doing. Studies have shown that maintaining regular appraisals can greatly benefit employees. But you should also focus on regular informal chats too. Touch base with each employee as often as you can to see how they are doing and if they need any support. Provide feedback and ask your employees for their feedback in return. Do whatever you can to reaffirm your role as a trusted source of support and remind them that you are there to make their jobs easier.
While Managing People, You Should Avoid the Following
- Feeling pressured to prove you know it all. Your job is to support the development of your employees and guide their activities. Nobody expects you to be an expert so don’t feel you have to act like you are one. And if you do make mistakes, own them and see them as teachable moments. A touch of humility will help you gain the respect of your staff.
- Exerting your power to prove you are in charge. If you are a new manager, your instinct might be to show people you are capable by exerting your power. You might be tempted to do this by cracking the whip and micro-managing. This would be a big mistake though. Your job is less about disciplining people and more about providing guidance and support. In fact, exerting your authority is far more likely to weaken your credibility in the eyes of your team than gain you respect.
- Being afraid of making changes. If you’ve just stepped into the role of manager in an already established department then you might be afraid of rocking the boat and making any big changes. This is a mistake. You have been assigned the role for a reason, so trust your instincts and make any changes that you feel would benefit the team. Engage your team members to see what areas they think could be improved and support their suggestions.
- Not getting to know your employees. The best way to become an effective leader is by gaining the trust of your team. Listen to what they have to say and treat them as individuals. Have regular one-to-one sessions with them to discuss their career aspirations and work together to define a development and performance improvement plan to help them reach their long-term goals.
Encouraging Effective People Management
Organizing a company to maximize productivity and boost employee morale and engagement is never easy. But there are ways to make things easier.
For starters, you can use a reliable performance management system like Factorial’s HR solution to help you develop better relationships with your employees. It also reduces your workload and makes it easier for you to access valuable data when needed. And at a broader level, it demonstrates your commitment to continuous performance management and the constructive management of staff.
Factorial’s ‘all-in-one’ centralized HR software platform includes a vast array of performance management tools and features that pushes your company to the next level. Plus, our solution includes features for time tracking, time-off management, applicant tracking systems, performance reviews, performance management, reporting and analytics, and document management.
Sign up now and start improving your HR management with Factorial! If you’re still not convinced, why not try our 14-day free trial?