People management is a skill that you can never master fully. Even after leading teams for a number of years, you will be amazed to learn something new that pops up every now and then. Learning is the essential part of any people manager, and today I will present the first set of tips to help you become a better people manager.
Tip 1 : People Manager must be Competent
People manager first and foremost be competent with what he does. He must be a continual learner who yearns for knowledge, skills and updates. For instance, a people manager leading a team of Windows Server professional must be aware of the ins and outs of the activities surrounding the team and periphery knowledge of the technology. He must be aware of high level technicalities that can make his better at managing the team. He must be competent at being a people manager, must be good in sorting out conflicts, he must support the team when the need arises and help them pick up new skills among others.
Only when a people manager is good at what he does, can expect to earn the respect and trust of his subordinates. If you do not know something, ask and update yourself but don’t fake it. Fakers don’t make it in the long distance race.
Tip 2 : People Manager must Lead by Example
Leading by example is one of the most popular leadership styles. It is easy to preach and hard to practice. It simply means that whatever you instruct your employees, you should already be doing it.
For instance, if you want your employees to be in office before 8AM every day, you must be in by that time as well. You cannot tell them to come-in on time while you arrive later than the expected time.
Leaders who lead by example not only gain respect of their subordinates but have a better batting advantage on getting their professional expectations fulfilled from their subordinates.
Tip 3 : People Manager must Connect with his Employees
People manager’s responsibilities states that he must take care of the employees’ administrative activities, he must conduct performance appraisals, he must ensure that activities get completed on time and must support them in fulfilling their career aspirations. It almost never states that a people manager must connect with his employees.
It is a common sight these days to see people managers around only when they have business with their subordinates and not otherwise. They usually hang out with other managers in the organization and others probably not invited to share the table in the cafeteria.
A people manager must go beyond the call of duty and connect with his employees. He must connect so that he becomes approachable, and this in turn ingrains the trust factor with the employee. A people manager must connect with employees even if he does not have any pending activities with them, ask them on how things are going and so on.
Tip 4 : People Manager must Collaborate
The days of military leadership is over. People don’t take orders well anymore. Managers who command their subordinates find the quickest way out of favor. The new mantra is to work together, collaborate and push subordinates into achieving the set objectives.
The people manager is expected to derive the team’s goals and objectives from the company’s vision and motivate employees towards achieving it. He needs to be a player in achieving it and not stand outside and pass orders on how to get it done.
People managers must be transparent in their communication, set clear goals and explain how employees will be measured. If it is going to be a bell curve, then tell them that they will be pitted against one another – which is totally fine. The end result is to become trustable. Only when trust exists, respect for the goals and the motivation to achieve it becomes a reality.
Tip 5 : People Manager must not Play Favorites
The most common complaint against people managers today is favoritism. Many employees believe that managers show favoritism towards employees who come from the same part of the country, religion and other common denominators. If this feeling in the team exists, it is extremely difficult for people managers to earn the trust of employees – thereby achieving anything meaningful. Every move by the people manager will be seen with disdain even if the action is done in the right spirit.
The people manager needs to become as transparent as possible. All the decisions must ride on logic be substantiated with reason. One way of staying away from this blame is to reward performers and motivating the back benchers to push themselves towards the zenith.
It is also true that managers who speak on others’ backs are seen as untrustworthy. The reason is simple. If a manager can badmouth other employees or colleagues behind their backs, what is the surety that they would not talk behind your back. This causes distrust and eventually downfall of teamwork quotient.
Tip 6 : People Manager must Appreciate Employees and Stand Up for them
Early on in my career, one of my managers shared a secret for becoming a good leader. He told me support my team wholly while I represent them with the customer, senior management or in other forums. Do not pass the buck onto your team nor talk lowly of them during these forums, he said. But while you address your teams, open up. Say what needs to be said to get what needs to be done. Do not hold back on anything, he advised.
In other words, if a customer questions the work activities of your team, you are required to stand strong and defend your team. If there is shortfall, go back to your team and it is ok to rip them apart in order that they recognize their shortfall, and pick themselves up to ensure that there is no repeat performance. If the customer appreciates the product or service, pass it onto your team wholeheartedly and share the credit with the team rather than enveloping all of it to yourself.
On the other hand, if there is a shortfall, take the blame upon yourself as you represent the team and technically being accountable for it. Do not say something like – Oh it is Marco who did this, he had a bad headache and tripped up this time around! Take it on yourself and go back to your team and do what is necessary.