People Management

Regardless of your industry, your company, or even your job title, all managers are people managers, all management is people management.

Managing people isn’t like managing things or even like managing projects. Each person has unique capabilities and talents, strengths and weaknesses—and feelings. Helping each person achieve his or her individual potential may require different motivational strategies and tactics.

“The task of management is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” —Peter Drucker, Management Guru and Author (1909–2005)

Good managers combine solid direction and strong leadership with objectivity, compassion, and the right amount of delegation. Whatever your style, it is important to be consistent and fair. It also pays to get to know the people who work for you. Ask them questions and solicit their input and advice. Then listen to what they have to say. Just taking the time to listen to your staff—to hear and respect their opinions and to “agree to disagree” if necessary—makes a big difference.

When making the distinction between Managers and Leaders – Managers tend to be more rational, objective, and driven by organizational needs, while Leaders are more visionary, emotional, and inspirational in nature. Although the ideal for a good manager is to be a good leader as well, it doesn’t always work out that way. A great leader has drive and personality; in addition to management ability. While becoming a leader is something to strive for, the transformation is never a sure thing.

While no two people are alike, there are certain sound management principles a manager can always apply to make their job easier –

  • Ability to relate to others – Sometimes being able to relate to others simply means that you’re willing to agree to disagree with mutual respect; letting them know you understand their position.
  • Strong communication skills – This is the most fundamental people skill because it encompasses your persona and ability to get along with other colleagues, persuade others to listen to your ideas, and much more.
  • Patience with others – Being patient with others and ability to keep a level head in stressful situations, it will definitely be noticed and perceived as a very strong asset.
  • Knowing how and when to show empathy – It allows one to create relationships with others, provide insights into people’s motives and allows us to predict responses.
  • Active listening skills – The key is to actively listen, which takes more time but produces better results. It means you listen without interruption and then take the time to think and form a response before replying. It takes practice, but it pays off.
  • Good judgment – Good judgment is a key people skill that comes directly from learning, listening to others and observing the world around you.
  • Delegation – One of the most important skills a good manager must acquire is how to delegate. There is a difference between delegation and abdication. You can’t just drop a project on someone’s desk and hope he or she will figure it out—that would be abdicating your responsibility as a manager. Instead, a good manager first gives thought to which tasks are appropriate to delegate to which employees and then diligently follows up to be sure each task has been successfully completed. An effective manager explains the why of the task and establishes goals, due dates, and criteria to measure success. But a manager should not detail the how. It is the employee’s responsibility to take ownership of the job and determine the best way to get it done.

When you delegate, give instructions rather than orders. Instructions acknowledge that the individual receiving them is capable of participating, learning, and doing. Instructions invite people to have a say in how things are done. Orders imply that there is one right way to do something, which discourages employees from thinking independently or showing initiative. Delegate the right work to the right people, give them enough leeway to accomplish what needs to be done, and monitor their progress reasonably and effectively so that they feel supported rather than micromanaged.

Some managers inspire, some motivate, and others fail miserably to engage their employees. When employees choose to leave a position, it’s often because of their manager or relationships with people in their working environment. People quit people, not jobs.

Whole books are written on this subject, but hopefully you get the picture. Great managers must do the technical job well – and they also must do the people job very well. Now that you understand these things, I guess the only question I should ask is why is it so hard to be one?

Diahann, author of the e-book “Training the Prism: My Spectracular Journey” has over 7 years of training experience in both India and the UAE. This ranges from Customer Service, Soft Skills, Speech Enhancement, Voice & Accent, Behavioural and Leadership training. As a trainer, her key points of focus are Communication and overall presentation in any situation. Diahann has also worked closely in training content design and development, in addition to mentoring, feedback and coaching.

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