People Management is a crucial part of organizational success. Ultimately, the entire organization boils down to assets and liabilities. You may be a genius in your field, but you could be a liability simply because of your lack of soft skills.

It is one of the critical responsibilities of an HR Manager to foster these soft skills in employees of all levels to strengthen employee engagement.

This blog will take you through how to manage people, why it’s essential, and the top 15 people management skills that HRs need to foster in every organization.

What is People Management?

People management is how an employee is hired, trained and motivated to optimize workplace productivity.

People management’s primary aim is to make a conducive environment for the employee and organization to thrive. HRs play a significant role in employee satisfaction, but managers oversee their day-to-day work and boost employee performance at the grassroots. Managers facilitate this by setting goals, motivating employees, and offering constructive feedback to ensure all team members’ business and personal development.

It is the job of an agile HR to interface and strengthen people management skills in every level of the organization.

The Importance of People Management

Employee management is an important skill set for both HRs and Managers. Managers oversee tasks because we don’t expect all employees to see the big picture. They exist to manage employee development, process and people problems. Their skills may range from mediating personality clashes between team members to work allocation basis skillsets for employees.

To put it simply, people management is how successful managers optimally use all human resources available to create explosive value for the business.

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The Top 15 People Management Skills

People management skills can range from running an effective one on one meeting program to structuring onboarding to enable managers to engage employees from the very beginning. These skills may not come naturally to all managers, but they can be taught by changing their employee handling approach.

These are the 15 people management skills every HR must foster in their organization.

#1: Proactive Communicator

Communication is the key to every relationship,, and that of an employee and manager is no different. Managers have to be good at communicating with employees, taking feedback and proactively address employee concerns.

Most managers wait for a problem to arise before calling a team meeting. But doing that wastes valuable time that could have been used to rectify the situation instead.

Check-in with your team regularly, even when you think there is nothing wrong.

#2: Goal Setting Mindset

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

The managers’ primary goal is to bring business goals in alignment with those of your team members. But to do that, managers must also help employees set clear and achievable goals to measure their performance. 

They could use strategies like the SMART goals framework or Google’s OKRs for goal setting. 

#3: Patience

It is no secret that humans can be petulant, annoying and sometimes downright silly. But they can also be heroic, kind and inspiring.

It is the manager’s job to patiently help team members even if they display their less admirable sides. Often it may just be a matter of understanding what personal problems are hindering their ability to succeed. But this is only possible if they see that leaders aren’t impatient and always willing to lend an ear.

#4: Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Patience and empathy go hand in hand. It isn’t possible to be good at people management if you tear into people for the smallest transgressions. As a manager, you need to understand their problems and reasons for doing things.

Don’t be the manager who asks their employees to work remotely while they’re recovering from the death of a close family member. Be the manager who sends them a care package and asks them to use the bereavement leave policy.

#5: Balancing Praise with Criticism

As a manager, it can become very easy to disregard good work and offer feedback when an issue arises. Positive reinforcement can help improve the confidence of employees while constructive criticism can help them improve.

But too much of either is a decidedly bad thing. Too much praise can reduce the value of positive reinforcement and make you a “try hard”. On the other hand, only criticism would wreak havoc on an employee’s morale while making the autocratic leader open to rebellion. 

According to Harvard Business Review, the ideal praise to criticism ratio leans more heavily on praise. A motivated and buoyant team is more likely to be successful on all performance parameters. 

#6: Trustworthy and Approachable

Every manager must position themselves as approachable figures of authority. A manager impresses upon their team that they’re personable problem solvers by focusing on a servant leadership style.

Wouldn’t you be more likely to approach a manager who patiently hears you out on any mistake made instead of ripping you a new one?

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#7: Delegation of Tasks and Authority

According to an HBR article on essential leadership competencies, empowered teams are more productive and proactive. They show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.

No leader can do everything at once. It is integral that they distribute important tasks and rely on the decision making abilities of others too. 

#8: Accountability

Accountability means taking responsibility for the work of all team members. If a manager claims praise on a job well done but passes the blame when the job is going poorly, there is a problem.

An effective people management strategy ensures that managers take responsibility for failures and successes. If the failures outnumber the successes, it is the manager’s job to fix the core issue and inspire employees.

If there is a lack of accountability at any level of the organization, employees will notice. They will refuse to put their neck on the line for their peers or subordinates.

It is the job of an HR to foster this critical people management skill in the organization by setting an example and then taking concrete steps to facilitate it.

#9: Asking for Help

With the remote working culture, we were all reluctant adopters of, it becomes very easy to be caught up in our problems. Research by The Academy of Management showed that employee productivity is higher and turnover is lower in companies where employees are supported in asking for and giving help.

HRs can help frame these requests for employees across the organization by inculcating a SMART framework for asking for help. Yes, it isn’t just useful for goal setting; it can also help here. 

Ask employees to frame requests with the following: 

Specific- Your exact need

Meaningful- Why do you need help? 

Actionable- What resources do you need? 

Realistic- Is the help you’re asking for reasonable? Every person only has so much bandwidth. 

Time bound- When do you need it? 

In the wise words of Albus Wulfric Brian Dumbledore- “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” 

#10: Value Diversity

People come in all shapes, sizes, sexual orientations, ages, ethnicities and many other attributes. Workplace diversity refers to this variety of differences between individuals in an organization. Self-identification isn’t the concern here, but the perception of others is what needs to be monitored. 

Gone are the days where diversity was just a buzzword in the HR world. Employees from diverse backgrounds breathe new life into organizations with their unique ideas and perspectives.

Glassdoor survey saw 57 per cent of employees express that their companies need to be more diverse. Sixty-seven per cent job seekers said workplace diversity is vital while considering job offers. 

To build a diverse workplace, there should be a concerted effort to overcome bias in assessing talent and allowing individuals to thrive. 

#11: Opportunities for Knowledge Updation

In a world that is developing as rapidly as ours, there is no value in not learning anymore. No matter what function the employee is a part of, there is immense value in keeping up with their field’s latest developments. 

There is no shortage of information with online resources like edXCourseraStanford Online, and many other educational platforms. Facilitating and fostering self-improvement can help the organization achieve its long term goals.

Knowledge updation needs to be a top-down approach where leaders are periodically updating their skills and ensuring that employees are in the loop. Organizations should strive to provide funding for books, part-time courses or even subscription plans to online resources for their employees. 

#12: Push Towards Macromanagers 

If you have been micromanaged in the past, you know just how demoralizing and diminishing it can be. Micromanaging kills creativity and eliminates motivation.

Micromanagement chases away self-starter talent and leaves a group of average workers who have no motivation to improve this work. Either employees become so dependant on managers that they can’t be productive without constant hand-holding or burn out due to the lack of autonomy.

No business problem has only one solution, and when management dictates every action, the company’s growth stagnates. Most teams are already diverse enough to share unique ideas and perspectives that can come together to reach the most effective solution.

Macromanagement is a managerial style that focuses on the “big picture” and allows employees to have more autonomy in day-to-day work. Macromanagers focus more on the “why” than the “how”.

#13: A Culture of Positivity

Employee engagement means that employees work their hardest, even when no one is looking because they have the company’s best interests in mind. Employees care when they are engaged and go the extra mile to do the best job possible.

All this stems from a culture of overwhelming positivity. How does one foster something so nebulous? 

There are various high-pressure situations in any workplace which can be used as ways to spread positivity. Managers and leaders can exhibit positive coping mechanisms to inspire employees to do the same.

For example, if a huge deadline is looming on a manager and he’s stomping about in the office, on the warpath. It makes the entire office on edge. On the other hand, we have a manager who deals with this looming deadline with a level head. They start by listing out their need for additional resources and make it. 

Focusing on problem solving, instead of a high pressure deadline, inspires their team members to shift their perspective.

Situations like this can be rewarded and recognized in company-wide Town Halls by leadership figures to foster this culture of positivity.  

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#14: Strong Ethics

The ethical role of leaders is a combination of being a moral person and being a moral leader. This means displaying a variety of traits such as integrity, honesty and trustworthiness.

It’s imperative to make sure that employees understand the decision-making process behind all key policies. If they realise decisions are being made purely on leaders’ personal choices, they’ll be more likely to accept policies and work together.

#15: Build Relationships

Humans are social animals; each of us craves to build a strong connection with others. We’ve all worked in offices where there is no cohesiveness between employees and leadership. Sometimes, not between employees as well.

If there is no warmth of a relationship, team members may feel cold and disconnected from one another. If the leadership team doesn’t venture out of their cubicles to interact with employees, it gets a lot worse.

There’s a reason why employees leave managers and not companies. High performing employees have no regrets jumping ship if they have no strong relationships with anyone within the company. 

Giving opportunities for employees to build relationships with peers and leaders can even positively impact employee turnover. 

If you’d like to learn more about these critical people management skills here is a list of people management books to help you. 

Good leaders step in to keep teams motivated and goals in sight, but great ones are attuned to the need of their workplace. Employees need to be mentored and coached to resolve their disputes with one another. HRs need to facilitate and foster specific skills from the background to help both leaders and their subordinates.

If you’d like to speak to us about the people management strategies we’ve successfully adopted in our organization, please feel free to reach out to us at @HarmonizeHQ on Twitter, and we’d love to help.