Not everyone has got what it takes, but there are some key points that anyone looking to excel in people management and get the best results should consider. And the higher up the ladder you get, the more you need to be able to manage, delegate and then let go.
Acknowledge that managing people is different from your day to day role, and recognise that people management is essential to your own career growth. If you're not good at it, work at getting better. Not only will you be a better manager, you'll also be a better person. Keep reading…
Understand that the role of a manager is just that: a role. It sets you apart, requires you to make decisions and take responsibility. Being a great manager doesn't mean being your colleagues' friend. It means providing direction and then doing everything you can to make sure they’re allowed to do their jobs.
Micro-management. Micromanagers are too close; this lowers trust, disempowers and destroys motivation. Don’t be too far away as that’s not helpful either, nor is it motivational if you’re not around to listen and provide answers to questions that come up. The best place is in between. Provide direction and guidance, let your colleague feel trusted and know you're keeping track from your own vantage point, and check in with them periodically. Let them feel you are there to ask questions if necessary and to help them.
Make your colleagues' career a priority. The better they do, the better you look! Becoming known as an incubator of talent makes you more valuable to your company. What are their career goals? Tell them you'll do everything you can to see them succeed. Then take action to make good on that promise, like putting individuals on projects that will help them grow. You'll have allies for life - and you’ll have done the right thing for them and your company.
Acknowledge and praise. At a psychological level, people generally value acknowledgement of their good work more than they value money (though it should never be a substitute!). Make acknowledgement a routine part of your communication with them; without acknowledgement, they have no way of knowing what they've done right, which means your feedback is incomplete and possibly negative. Be accurate in your acknowledgement; this gives weight to your praise.
First coach, then counsel, finally discipline. Disciplining your colleague can only be done if they have had the right mentoring and constructive criticism along the way, and are aware that they are not hitting their objectives. This is a good-faith approach that gives you something to refer to at every stage. It also means that no disciplinary action (at the review stage or otherwise) will come as a surprise. If it is a surprise, I’m sorry to say this is managerial failure, and won’t leave a good taste for anyone. Possibly an HR issue too.
Be objective. This has several aspects. For example, be consistent and constructive in your communication; the emotional objectivity required will give you a solid foundation and make you appear reliable to others, a key factor in your work relationships. Being objective also means not having favourites; that’s important for group morale. Finally, being objective means observing yourself as well as others - another way of playing fair, which is what objectivity leads to in real time!
And have fun! Getting the best out of your growing people management skills is one of the most rewarding feelings in any job if you can do it well. The rewards will speak for themselves.