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Knowing how to interact with people is an essential skill for anybody in a workplace, but managing people is a whole other level of interaction.
People management is exactly what leadership is there to do! Whether you’re brand new to the role (congrats!) or looking to update your skills, training is always a great investment and can positively impact the people you’re leading day to day.
People management focuses on the training, developing, motivating, and leading of a team through their daily tasks and meeting their goals. It’s less the numbers side of things, and centers on all people-related tasks. While this includes recruitment and onboarding, a very important portion is made up of performance management and employee engagement. As Liz Lockhart Lance says in her article, “People management is the process of ensuring that the right people are in the right place, with the right resources, to achieve the desired goals.”
Management has a huge impact on the employee experience. I personally have had managers I would follow to the ends of the earth, as well as some I would run far away from. The qualities I’ve found important in a manager, and the reasons my coworkers also appreciated managers I worked under, are consistent. Each person has variations in their management styles, but the core values that I and my coworkers stuck around for were simple: be appreciative, supportive, empathetic, and recognize that they’re leading humans. Treating a team with empathy and an understanding of human error, quirks, and initiative, can go a long way.
Many successful people managers start off with empathy and authentic desire to succeed, and that solid foundation can be built upon with technical and soft skills to forge a strong leader. Knowing what kind of leadership each member of your team needs to thrive in their work environment can be a major advantage and have a very real effect on their performance.
Paying attention to your team and identifying which people do best following a concrete plan, or who does best with more autonomy and independance, or who appreciates creativity over logic (and vice versa) can show your team that a) you pay attention to them as individuals, and b) you’re willing to change your approach to ensure they’re comfortable and successful. Giving more direction to new employees who are just learning company policy as well as employee culture might be necessary, but these directions might be overbearing to a more tenured employee.
People management is important to company performance.
- Skill development – strong leaders and people managers will identify areas their people can improve, provide learning opportunities, and encourage progress toward their individual goals, both personal and professional. Uplifting your people and celebrating their victories earns you their trust and respect, and the loyalty of a passionate worker.
- Stimulating productivity and engagement – employees who feel valued and appreciated for their contributions are much more likely to be engaged in their work. People who recognize their work has meaning understand their place in an organization and feel that place is respected and necessary for the company’s success. These people are engaged and passionate about making their work count.
- Creating a positive work environment – strong people management creates a supportive work environment. Team members are more likely to engage positively with their work and their teammates and contribute to a happy and comfortable workplace for everyone involved.
- Conflict resolution – when you create that positive work environment, conflict resolution becomes easier. Communication channels being open, communicating with clarity and honesty, these are all essentials for people managers. Employees experiencing conflict who trust their managers and believe they truly care are much more likely to bring conflicts to your attention and get them resolved promptly.
- Collaboration improves – leaders who know how to manage their people are more likely to understand where each individual shines and where they may need support. As an old workplace of mine used to say, “put aces in their places.” Recognizing the strengths that make up your team and allowing people to shine collaboratively means the team is being as productive as possible, with the people in it thriving in their zones of expertise.
- Boost performance – while people management is focused on people, we can’t forget the overarching goals of the business. When leadership uses their people management skills to the max, meeting goals and missions of the organization becomes that much easier. Managing people effectively allows them to succeed in their roles and see how their work contributes to the success of the team and company as a whole.
- Employee retention – it’s well known that many employees don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. Strong leadership, empathetic and honest people managers, these are the leaders that keep their team for the long term. By genuinely valuing the people you’re leading, helping them reach their goals, and being a pleasant and understanding person, you’re creating an environment people will want to stay connected to.
By making people management a priority, you’re investing in the organization in so many ways. Take a moment to reflect; what are you doing to continue your learning? To become a better leader for your people? Are you developing your team and using their strengths in the best ways?
Mastering skills like conflict resolution, effective communication, and supporting your team will help you become a fantastic people manager. While it can be difficult at times to lead a team of individuals, effective leaders are able to recognize their people as individuals and as a powerhouse of a team, developing cohesion and resolving conflicts with transparency and strength. Learning these skills will help you become an even stronger manager than you already are!
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