I first started using the term “people manager” when I joined IBM over 10 years ago. At that time, I thought the term was different, even interesting. I wasn’t sure why it was so important to distinguish the “people manager” skills from other manager activities. However, I knew it was important, even a pain point for many of my clients. Over the years, I have refined my thinking on the role of a “people manager”.
What I have come to realize is that the leadership traits of people managers directly impact a company’s workforce and ultimately its bottom line. Everyone wants to work with a good people manager. Many times, employees in the organization know which managers are good people managers and those who aren’t. And even more importantly, strong people management should be evidenced at all levels of management, from the CEO down to the first line Supervisor.
As a manager, there are mundane but important people management skills. To excel as a people manager, it is important to demonstrate excellence in these areas. Here is my list of the top 8 skills of highly effective people managers.
1. Administrating – This is the most fundamental skill of people management and one that managers often regard as unimportant. Administration excellence is the tactical yet thoughtful processing of people related activities, such as performance management, development plans, and even time administration. Administration excellence demonstrates what is expected of your employees in these areas.
2. Engaging – Every employee wants to work for a manager who is engaging – we know it when we see it. A manager who is effective at engaging staff, in work as well as business priorities, acts in a way that demonstrates personal transparency and serves as a positive example of trusting the motives of the organization. We all know that trust is fundamental to engagement.
3. Training – This skill is not meant to mean formal employee training; instead represents the day-to-day experience-based training. Taking time to teach your employees new skills and share ideas.
4. Motivating – Propelling action in a positive direction. Whether it is motivating an employee to complete a difficult project or task or removing obstacles so work can move forward, motivating employees to achieve more improves the bottom line.
5. Leading – There are three critical components of leadership: personal effectiveness, relational effectiveness and assertiveness. Understanding and excelling in these three areas enables people managers to effectively lead people to achieve the business results needed in the organization.
6. Listening – Active listening while demonstrating empathy. This skill requires focus on the individual and the emotional state of the individual as well as responding in the appropriate manner. Many times managers have so many outside distractions and issues competing for their attention, they forget the importance of listening.
7. Communicating – Effective communication starts with understanding the best method of communicating messages to employees. Managers need to be comfortable having good dialogue and tough conversations. It is important to use the right method of communication to produce the best results, tailoring your style to the person listening.
8. Recruiting – This skill is not meant to be solely focused on external hiring; however, this skill can be viewed more as “recruiting” for my team or my initiative. It requires a manager to demonstrate relational effectiveness. Think of it this way – you need to re-recruit your people every day!