People Management: Skills + Advice
People management is the process of training, motivating and facilitating the success and productivity of employees in the workplace while making sure their needs are fulfilled on a human level. Top-tier people managers have the ability to foster employee development while maintaining a positive company culture, resolving disputes and facilitating growth across the entire business.
What is People Management?
Any professional entering into a leadership position has ambitions of being a great manager, but learning effective management skills that motivate team members on a daily basis is far from a simple task. More than just memorizing management tips, acquiring high-quality people management skills takes an authentic desire to promote employees’ career goals and interests while also facilitating success across the marketplace. Whenever those interests clash, great managers prevail by facing challenges head-on, determining the root cause of the issue, finding where compromises must be made and formulating an exceptional plan that allows all parties to comfortably move forward.
Managers may fulfill different roles depending on their industry, company or team-focus, but every people manager’s responsibilities involve:
- Handling interpersonal conflicts as they arise and ensuring employees are motivated to move forward once a resolution is found.
- Leading employee training and making sure job responsibilities, expectations and company-wide goals are communicated clearly.
- Managing deadlines so employees don’t fall behind on responsibilities, leading to disruptions that could affect the entire company.
- Building company culture and facilitating employees to enter and exit the workplace in a healthy state of mind each day.
People Managers follow five key components when curating workplace culture, ensuring organizations are built on a successful foundation that can be maintained for long-term success.
1. Creation - Workplace culture starts with the very first hire. Talent acquisition processes must be thorough and backed by a strong employer brand, with engaging candidate experience, informative onboarding and clear roadmapping techniques utilized to build loyalty and ready employees to grow with the company amongst any changes.
2. Comprehension - Understanding the differences innate to each person in a workplace is necessary to understanding how to motivate them to become the best employees possible.
3. Communication - Employees need to know that their voices will be heard in the moments when they feel like they must speak up. Managers who encourage open communication will allow employees to have a better perception of their place within the company and lead to problems being resolved as they arise rather than when they reach a tipping point.
4. Collaboration - Positive work environments ensure that each employee’s output is paramount to the overall success of the organization. By fostering a spirit of collaboration between not just team members, but all sides of the business, employees can feel like they have had a role in more than just the success of their everyday tasks, making them more willing to participate into the future.
5. Confrontation - Overcoming challenges will always be a component of building a successful culture, but effective people managers will always be prepared to find resolutions regardless of if the challenge is of an interpersonal or intrapersonal nature. People managers must rely on understanding and take only appropriate disciplinary action to keep company culture and employee perception aligned.
Learning how to be a better manager is far from impossible, and by following a few basic principles, professionals across industries will be on their way to fostering more motivated, productive working environments where employees are eager to participate each day.
Miscommunications, differences of opinions and varied lifestyles are common in the modern workplace. When managed properly, however, these conflicts can result in an environment where all employees feel like their opinions are valued and critical to the employer’s brand. Strong people managers take an active role in mediating conflicts before they reach a point where they become insurmountable, and look to incorporate every employees’ point-of-view when creating a path forward, setting a culture that incorporates understanding, representation and accountability.
Productive work environments rely on a sense of camaraderie from the top down, but gaining the trust of individual employees takes action. People managers must be capable of listening to and fully understanding an employee’s goals, ambitions and work habits to be able to bring out the most of their abilities. By practicing patience and flexibility when employees are facing blockers, and empowering them with the skills and motivation they need both in moments of hardship and while being trained, people managers will build a far-more engaged and participatory team.
A crucial component of people management in any industry is the ability to both clearly communicate employee expectations and how they are expected to meet them, while also being able to internalize that employee’s concerns, apprehensions or struggles. People managers must learn to actively listen, maintaining eye-contact, giving verbal cues and asking questions to show that they are engaged with what the employee is attempting to connect with them about. Active listening, however, must be combined with genuine empathy, appreciation and actionable steps in these moments for employees to feel validated and respected in the workplace.
Workplaces are constantly evolving, and so should entire teams — including managers. Having access to high-quality data that details project, company and employee performance over periods of time is crucial to streamlining success within an organization. Demonstrating the ability to stay up-to-date is also crucial for proving self-awareness to team members, and by consistently learning new skills and capabilities that can be applied to the workplace, managers can foster a spirit of quality career development\
Staying on top of routine tasks and emerging challenges, or alternatively constantly needing to catch-up and letting ongoing responsibilities slide to tackle emerging tasks, is something that will be recognized and resonate throughout a team. Great people managers actively look for ways to streamline processes, reduce clutter and accomplish tasks before they pile up while paying attention to employee workloads and making adjustments where they are needed. Employees should have access to the resources they need to stay organized from the moment they are onboarded.
Key Components of People Management
While conflict resolution, reinforcing deadlines and employee training are all necessary parts of a manager’s responsibility, there are many other tangible and intangible factors that go into creating workplaces that employees are excited to participate in. People managers must support the mental wellbeing of not only their entire team, but themselves as well, in order to prove to employees that their life and well-being outside of work matters just as much as their performance. Some ways that managers can do this include:
- Make physical and mental wellbeing a priority, both for managers and employees. Neither can be effective in their roles if they are struggling with their health.
- Hire employees from diverse backgrounds and ensure their specific needs are being met within the workplace. Having representation of all kinds leads to previously unseen insights, the ability to share unique experiences and a company culture where all members can learn from each other.
- Admit and own mistakes as a manager so employees are less stressed about the consequences of their own trial and error while also having a sense of accountability.
- Share personal and professional goals amongst team members and discourage rivalries between colleagues.
- Encourage feedback and keep developing new skills so employees are motivated to do the same.
- Continually raise standards but don’t micro-manage. Company goals will transform and develop but an employee’s time should always be valued.
- Prioritize developing talent over new hires. Challenge employees to constantly raise their own bar and break out of comfort zones.
- Be approachable, don’t take your role too seriously and always take a genuine interest in your employees’ lives outside of work. Encourage employees to bring their complete selves into the workplace.