Want to succeed in your profession? Work on your People Management Skills.
Well it isn’t as easy as we think it should be. Why? Because they are people. When has it been easy to control, manage or quantify people? As individuals, each of us have our own dreams, hopes and above all opinions. Every individual is strong in certain areas and weak in some. No one is perfect, yet each of us have our own ways, quirks and a unique individuality. To add fuel to the fire, all these aspects change depending on circumstances, situations and the life phase the person is in. Yipeee! Too good!
Do you think a manager’s job is easy? With so much of dynamism in the team one must be very strong, focused and experienced to be able to manage a group of people. Everyone likes to lead, but the only person who would succeed, is the one who can manage his team in the manner they should be managed. For that, experience is a non-negotiable factor. Added to this prerequisite, one must also possess people managing skills that can be cultivated through attending workshops and trainings.
(“People Management is, above all a practice, where art, science, and craft meet” – Henry Mintzberg)
Challenges or Pitfalls in Managing People
For a manager, it is important to understand the challenging areas in the process of managing his people. In fact it is important for each one of us, especially professionals, to be aware of the pitfalls, since all of us come in contact with and manage people – internal or external. Some manage us, some we manage. A manager has the added responsibility to see that he manages his team well as they would be the ones to take the organisation to the next level.
Let’s first take a look at some of the challenges one could face whilst managing people:
Communication – Ego clashes, difference of opinions and understanding levels between members of the team are inevitable
Strengths & Weaknesses – Identifying these areas and putting it to work is crucial and not an easy task
Mind-sets – Every member in the team come with a certain mind-set. Creating a synergy of understanding and approval plays a huge role in determining the success of a team
Peer Challenges – Shifting from a colleague to a boss role and managing team members who were once your peers – shifting from co-worker to boss
Time Management – Managing time in a way that all team members are productive and project deadlines are met
Productivity – Not everyone is willing to take action or put in the required effort to make the project successful. There would be some who are passionate about it and there would be some who will stand on the side lines
Team Forming – Most often managers have to manage teams they have inherited. They acquire a team who follow a certain pattern of work and behaviour, which becomes a challenge
Firing a Team Member – Not a pleasant task, but many times necessary if the team member is unnecessarily rebellious, unproductive or has a tendency to disrupt and deteriorate the efficiency and motivation of other team members
These are just few of the challenges. What works for us here, is that we can always improve the way we manage people. I have put together few strategies one can adopt to become successful in People Management
People Management is categorized under one of the most important skills a leader must possess. This is due to the following reasons:
Effective people management optimizes productivity as it impacts team morale and motivation
Effective people management becomes critically necessary during periods of transition, uncertainty and change
Successful project management is a direct result of successful people management
People Management Strategies
Understand human behavior dynamics Behavior is more often than not, shaped by various influences in the form of surroundings, situations, family, culture, beliefs, ideology and so on. When it comes to people management, knowing these dynamics of human behavior is crucial. Why people behave the way they do, what gets them motivated, what drives them to achieve, how they will behave when faced with a particular situation, all these form the crux of human behavior. There is also a need to understand that every person behaves differently in given situations. We cannot expect to get similar behavior, answers and results from all people. It is therefore imperative that leaders learn all kinds of behavioral types, patterns and social conditioning so that it becomes easier to understand team members and to anticipate and manage potential problems that could arise.
Transparent approach Transparency and openness in communication and interactions are a mandatory requirement to excellent people management. Once you know the behavior types of your team members, ensure you create an environment of trust and openness amongst team members and yourself. A project can reach a successful conclusion only when there is transparency within the team. Leaders should share their plans, decisions, deadlines, changes, progress milestones and way forward with their teams. Only then will team synergy be created. A project’s success depends largely on team synergy.
Team Empowerment Your team must always have the feeling that they own the project. When there is ownership, every member will put in his or her best to achieve success. Empowerment does that to people. Lead by example and trust team members to do the tasks that they have been asked to do and which best fit their skills. Team confidence grows when they know their leader trusts them. They will do their best to come up or even surpass expectations. Recognize, acknowledge and reward team accomplishments. This will keep your team motivated throughout the project and following projects as well.
Take up Training – enroll in a Leadership Development Program. You cannot have it any other way. Sharpen the axe. It is always good to be prepared. Team dynamics keep changing and as a leader, you have to be prepared. Sharpen your People Management Skills, time and again, so that you are always at the top of the game. Many management schools and institutes offer leadership courses and workshops. They have skilled trainers who conduct modules which combine both theoretical and practical experience. Develop your personal leadership strengths by attending such workshops which lets you test and perfect your approaches with groups. These workshops also include modules on conflict management, effective negotiation, and team-building, all of which will be an added bonus and will take you to the next level as an efficient manager.
People tend to remember the few times you might have messed up rather than the 99% of the time you did well.
Sometimes, being a manager and managing a team feels like a no-win situation. As a manager you will have your own boss you report to and will also have subordinates you have to manage. Striking a perfect balance with a focus on your goal, aided by the knowledge and capability of managing people at different levels will give you the edge. Will end this blog with a very famous quote: –
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson
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