How to Develop Effective People Management Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 February 2021 | Published 26 August 2020

Updated 11 February 2021

Published 26 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective people management is a necessary quality for leaders who want to improve workplace communication and prepare employees for success. Examining the skills that contribute to people management allows you to identify your strengths and learn where you can improve. In this article, we define people management and explain how you can improve your people management skills.

What is people management?

People management is a set of policies for hiring, training and retaining talent to ensure uninterrupted operations within a company or organisation. It is also known as human resource management (HRM) in some workplaces. It covers many interdependent aspects, such as:

  • Employment law

  • Recruitment

  • Training

  • Performance evaluation

  • Collaboration

  • Health and safety

  • Salary management

  • Fringe benefits

  • Motivation, rewards and bonuses

Leaders often use a combination of these aspects to create an ideal office environment for maximising productivity while still maintaining a relaxed atmosphere.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

Skills for people management

Here are some skills that contribute to good people management:

  • Active listening: Active listening is the practice of understanding a speaker by giving them your full attention. Remove distractions, maintain eye contact and give cues to show you understand what they say.

  • Conflict resolution: Good conflict resolution skills help you analyse a situation and find the root cause. You can act as a mediator and find a compromise between two or more parties.

  • Flexibility: Demonstrate flexibility by adjusting schedules or providing remote work options. Ask employees what they prefer to create personalised flexibility options.

  • Patience: Patience involves practising respect, kindness and empathy to help others overcome obstacles. Use patience when onboarding new employees, instructing employees on new processes, solving problems and handling conflicts.

  • Trust: Building trust helps your employees work together with more productivity and efficiency. Trust team members to show your support, and believe in their hard work. You can build trust by helping team members complete tasks and instructing them on how to build skills that promote career growth.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to implement good people management

Consider these 10 useful steps to become a better people manager:

  1. Maintain clarity of concept

  2. Delegate correctly

  3. Create a feeling of trust

  4. Practice active listening

  5. Make swift and accurate decisions

  6. Acknowledge good performance

  7. Establish clear lines of communication

  8. Demonstrate expertise

  9. Share successes

  10. Ask for feedback

1. Maintain clarity of concept

When you work with a team, you should have a clear idea of what you want them to accomplish. Collaborate with your project managers to create a plan and assign achievable targets. Once this plan is approved and shared with everyone, your team members will know exactly what they need to do. If anyone has doubts, allow them to ask for clarification. Use simple language and graphical aids, like slides or mind maps, to facilitate quick delivery. Charts and graphs help employees learn complex ideas quickly.

2. Delegate correctly

Your team members may have unique skills, but each person works at a different pace. Their experience and knowledge also make their work ethic equally diverse. Choosing the right person for the right task is a critical element in creating your plan. You need to estimate the capacity and speed of each member before setting deadlines.

For example, some people are efficient employees. Others are slow, but they may be more meticulous. Use your best judgment to consider which qualities are suitable for a particular situation. Avoid assigning managerial or administrative tasks to senior developers to reduce unnecessary workload. When you assign the correct tasks to your team members, they can work seamlessly and increase their output.

3. Create a feeling of trust

Many people consider the workplace as a small community. Personnel working for a portion of their day often interact with their colleagues professionally as well as personally. This interaction develops a sense of belonging, and some people treat their colleagues as family. A leader should establish trust between their employees to strengthen this bond.

Find out which team members work better together. Assign challenging tasks to them, and show confidence to inspire honesty, reliability and hard work. You can create bonds of trust when you build teams that foster long-lasting connections.

4. Practice active listening

Employees often look upon their supervisor as their mentor and guide. Sometimes, they may want to share information with you, such as a suggestion, a problem in their work, their personal issues or a complaint about coworkers. In such cases, listen to their statements compassionately. Understand their meaning and indicate that you are paying attention by responding appropriately. Show that you're listening by maintaining eye contact and using the right body language.

As a leader, active listening can help you connect with your team if you handle each case individually and provide solutions or suggestions with genuine concern. It can increase the productivity of your employees significantly and prevent conflicts due to negative emotions.

5. Make swift and accurate decisions

A successful manager needs to make quick and informed decisions every day. However, supervising a large project with many obstacles and coordinating between your colleagues can make quick decision making difficult. Knowing the nature and capabilities of every team member helps you make thoughtful decisions.

For instance, if someone is not able to meet a deadline or is unable to complete a task to the level of quality required, you might have to remove that person from the project. However, you can explain why this was necessary to them to avoid disappointment and anxiety. When there's time, meet with the employee to create a plan that helps them learn the skills they need to improve their work.

6. Acknowledge good performance

Most people need recognition for their honest and hard work to keep motivation levels high. Some people are satisfied with praise, while others require actual benefits, such as promotions, bonuses or increments in salary. As a leader, you need to decide which form of recognition is best.

Use positive phrases to praise excellent performance, then explain exactly what the employee did right to create a work standard. Praise an employee in front of their team so each member knows the performance you expect. You can also send a personal email or note if it's more acceptable for the situation.

7. Establish clear lines of communication

Miscommunication leads to misunderstandings, which may create problems in your project. To prevent such mishaps, you should facilitate communication and clarification as much as possible. Examples include:

  • Responding to emails in a timely manner

  • Working with project managers to keep track of activities

  • Providing adequate information to complete each task

  • Setting checkpoints for each milestone

  • Tagging and addressing issues in time

Consider using technology to your advantage. Smartphones and tablets are handy tools for reminders to calendar events. Similarly, using group policies and bulk reminders in emails can prevent absentees in meetings or missed deadlines. You can also collaborate with your IT department and make this technology accessible to the employees so that they can stay in touch at all times.

8. Demonstrate expertise

Generally, managers or leaders work their way to higher positions with their knowledge and experience. Some of them work with team members and other departments to learn new skills. Employees who want to learn more can benefit from your added expertise if you hold training sessions with them. Teach them what you have learned to help them excel in their current role and in their career path. When you demonstrate your capabilities, you show that you are a knowledgeable leader.

9. Share successes

If you complete a project successfully, celebrate with the entire team. This encourages team members to be even more productive. In case of a setback or failure, it is better to create collective accountability and show them how to accept responsibility. Be supportive of your staff at all times.

10. Ask for feedback

You can also ask for feedback and suggestions. Many companies install a suggestion box to get employee feedback. This system allows your colleagues to voice their opinions in a meaningful way and makes them believe that they are a part of the team.

For more targeted feedback about your work, hold a team meeting or send an anonymous survey. A team meeting allows employees to collectively describe your people management skills, and you can get immediate feedback. If you feel your employees would be more comfortable submitting anonymous responses, send them an electronic survey that evaluates your ability to lead and manage. Show that you value your team's opinions by implementing their suggestions into your management style.

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