Introduction to People Management Skills
Throughout this post, we’ve sprinkled real-life samples just so you know that with a little effort on your people management skills, you could make it happen too! So without further ado. Managers are often a gloriously 2-dimensional lot. You either LOVE them, or you HATE them. You simply can’t afford to ignore them! If you are a manager of any sort, it’s worth your while to develop ‘wow–inducing’ people management skills. Become that type of manager where every associate goes, “Wow! I’m so lucky to work with him!”
Through this post, we intend to show that it is possible to trigger this unbelievable sentiment in the hearts of your peers and your team. It doesn’t matter what “type” of manager you are (people manager, production manager, project manager, creative manager, etc.) So, with our eyes firmly set on those crucial people management skills, we give you our “Easy 10” to become “THE WINSOME MANAGER!!”
Here we discuss the winsome manager.
1. Is a Charismatic Dude
A hypnotic, charismatic dude!
This is perhaps the first rule to develop great people management skills: develop a healthy dose of charisma.
This manager always has his best face on and is friendly, amicable and non-confrontational. (See, what’s not to like about him!) This is not to say that you’re a pushover. But you are able to use your charm to gently direct your peers and team the right way forward.
2. Has Loads of Integrity
Without integrity, your so-called charisma can come across as sleazy. The winsome manager is not interested in bending people or rules to suit his best interests; instead, he strives to make the most out of every situation to suit everybody’s best interests. (Incidentally, it is possible for someone with outstanding people management skills.)
So when Rita from marketing comes over with a request for leave during peak season, for only the third time this month, you’re able to carefully weigh all the options and suggest nicely (but firmly) that this may not be the best time to take off again. Perhaps she can work from home instead to take care of personal chores even as she works? Or maybe put in a few hours extra this week, so she can attend the parent-teacher meeting and make it to work only a little later than usual? Oh, and while you’re at it, did you compliment her for that compelling presentation last week that was appreciated by senior leadership.
Job well done!
With integrity, you (yes, YOU, the “Winsome Manager”) support your peers and team to work with you, and not just for you.
3. Is a great Listener
As a Winsome Manager, you realize that almost all of life’s problems would easily resolve themselves if you could just listen and let be. We’re not saying that you become passive or lazy with your job. But a manager has all sorts of people reaching out to him: Senior management, Organizational heads like HR, Finance, Operations, etc. And then there’s the mixed bag that is your team: high achievers, mediocre folks, people who are lost, and yes, possibly some duds. They’re all vying for your undivided attention.
It’s a good thing then that you’re an awesome listener!
So when David from Quality and David from your team butt heads and come to you, you’re able to patiently listen to David (from quality) and his concerns, and then listen to David (from your team) and his tirade on the cumbersome process and the time it takes away from real work. And you do this without losing your head or mixing up the 2 David’s. (Phew, that truly is crazily good people management skills from you!)
As a reward for your patient listening, both David’s have let out enough steam and are now feeling a lot more cooperative. From this, you’re able to drive a win-win solution that gives David (from quality) what he wants and David (from your team) extra billable hours, so he no longer feels compelled to crib. (Again, mind-blowing stuff!)
The winning result: everybody leaves reasonably happy.
4. Is Resilient and does not Shy away from Tough Communication
See, the thing with communicating with so many people (clients, senior management, team members, cross-functional heads, etc.) is that they all come to you with their own vested agenda. Sometimes, situations demand that you take a tough stance.
The Winsome Manager is no fence-sitter.
He understands the need for tough communication (lower rates for consultants, more work hours, attrition risks, ugh – layoffs, and the lot) and is able to deliver this without blaming anyone. On the other hand, he is also able to take a tough crap that gets thrown at him when people don’t get his intentions right and inadvertently blame him.
(Hint: charismatic people management skills to the rescue!)
This can happen only when you develop non-judgmental listening skills with integrity, so you constantly work for everybody’s best interest.
5. Is a Darn Good Project Manager
Even if the major chunk of your work is about managing people and not reports (and hence your awe-inspiring people management skills), the Winsome Manager still has solid “project management” skills in place.
You may not actively use them in your role, but you still understand what they’re all about. How else will you connect with senior leadership when they throw terms like “ROI”, “Bottom line”, “KPI”,, etc. to justify their decisions and understand where they’re coming from?
This knowledge also helps you stay one step ahead of your peers. For instance, even as you plan to expand on your team’s talent, you ask the right project management-related questions from your counterparts, so you get a revealing glimpse into their insights for the next quarter. (This could be related to financial aspects, quality, etc.) This knowledge not only helps you become strong in people management training but a better manager.
6. Is Assertive, Not Aggressive
It’s a myth that all managers are powerful. Between the expectations of your associates (senior leadership, team members, peers, cross-functional heads, clients, etc.), you could find yourself being knocked around and thoroughly powerless.
When pushed by conflicting expectations, a typical manager tends to spontaneously take on an aggressive stance.
But this aggression,
- It incites you to attack.
- It turns the other party off you, so they no longer listen to you.
- It pushes you to think and make decisions from fear, not intelligence.
- Creates a vicious cycle of blame and more aggression.
- Reduces your people management training to rock bottom.
This typical manager expects to create an “only-me-win” solution, but he comes back with a no-win situation! His professional life then becomes an endless endeavor in damage control.
If you want to stop being the football in this game, the trick is to develop an assertive voice. (We don’t just mean the tone of your voice here, but your entire demeanor, people management training and decision-making setup.)
- Invites the other party to communicate more as you listen.
- Carries no prior judgment, so you are open to seeing the other’s point of view.
- It empowers you to make decisions from insight and competence.
- Creates a virtuous cycle of better communication and empathy.
- Strengthens your people management goals that transform you into a Leader.
It is also this manager that consistently delivers win-win solutions.
We believe that you, the Winsome Manager, get the difference.
7. Plans for Growth, Everybody’s Growth
Usually, we find 3 types of managers:
- The active manager who works aggressively towards his growth.
- The pro-active manager who works aggressively towards his team’s growth.
- The passive damage which works towards nobody’s growth!
Very rarely do we find the fourth category: the refined manager (AKA ‘The Winsome Manager’), who’s able to simultaneously work towards his team’s (professional) advancement as well as his own. Great people management skill involves everybody, and that includes you because you’re people too!
As a Winsome Manager, you proactively plan your team’s growth, even as you know that this will in turn (harmoniously) lead to your own growth (and vice versa). Of course, you could work top-down or bottom-up, but you constantly have your eyes set on both ends of the spectrum. When you function from this context, your team and peers love you, because they know that if you win, they win too! And this forms yet another powerful key to unlock outstanding people management goals and sustained success.
8. Is Innovative and not Afraid to take Risks
We all know that managers are a competitive lot. Everybody’s vying for greatness. Everybody’s trying mighty hard to bolster their (already superior) people management skills. And everybody’s trying unbelievably hard to find yet another secret key to get it right.
Well, innovation is that key, my dear.
Innovation is a mental space; it empowers you to free your mind of the past and future and think outside this box. You don’t focus on what has (so far) been impossible; you focus on what YOU will make possible!
This comes with the courage to take (acceptable) risks.
- Courage to push your team beyond their comfort zone in order to make great things happen.
- Courage to stand up for your team, even when facing unhappy members of the senior management team.
- Courage to face down disbelief with conviction.
- Courage to move forward even when others have backed off.
Do you think this is impossible? Nope. All you have to do is tap into your superlative people management skills and follow our next tip.
9. Effectively Multi-tasks as Coach, Mentor and Head Cheerleader
Much like the modern woman, the Winsome Project Manager must wear many hats: friend, coach, mentor, cheerleader, critic, etc. It’s the only way to satisfy everybody while you push them for expansion.
Here’s the good news: To the seasoned manager, donning these multiple roles comes almost as easily as breathing.
And here’s the not-so-good news: When you mix these roles together, crazy things can happen. Don’t inadvertently do too many roles at once! For instance, don’t turn into the (confused) cheerleader of your top performer when you intend to pull him up for an (almost unpardonable) mistake. Or don’t turn into an unabashed critic when you’re working with a peer to resolve a conflict.
The trick lies in understanding that every hat has its place and purpose. The Winsome Manager uses his evolved understanding of people and his people management skills to pitch this just right. This brings us to the next tip…
10. Genuinely Cares
Through this post, we’ve been listing out the almost God-like qualities of this angelic Winsome Manager. We understand if you think he sounds too darn good to be true for you! But do not give up yet. The simple trick to make all of this your possibility (and reality) is to be thoroughly genuine in all your associations with people. (Hey, this is about developing Ninja-like people management skills!)
Think about it. If you genuinely care about your peers, you will but naturally empathize and listen to their needs. If you genuinely care about your team, you will automatically become their mentor, coach, and friend and consciously plan for their growth. Finally, if you genuinely care and like your leaders, you will feel inspired to express your highest potential and deliver the absolute best with your team.
If you genuinely care, you will find a way to make it all work!
This is a fool-proof tip to become that Winsome Manager: genuinely care about everything and everybody.
Finally, if there’s one master-tip we can give you to win the game, it’s to “become the kind of people-manager YOU would personally LOVE to work with”. Create that dream manager, first in your own self and then with your team. This dream manager is not just a commanding paragon of virtue (see the flowery list above); he’s human too. An exceedingly good human!
And there lies your most powerful key: connecting with other humans, as you also showcase your winning people management skills.
This has been a guide to People Management Skills. Here we have discussed the different management skills by giving real-life examples. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –