What Are People Management Skills? Plus How to Develop Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 November 2021

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 current and aspiring leaders. Good leaders who effectively manage people can improve workplace productivity and prepare employees for success. Learning better people management can help you become a more effective leader in the workplace. In this article, we discuss what people management skills are, how you can develop them and why people management is important.

What are people management skills?

Here are eight essential people management skills to incorporate into your workplace:

1. Clear and open communication

Workplace leaders communicate daily with their coworkers to provide directions, brainstorm new ideas and build relationships. Clear, open and active communication is necessary to make sure that all your team members are on the same page regarding business procedures and practices. Communication is also important to develop healthy and supportive relationships with your coworkers, which ultimately leads to a more positive work environment and company culture.

You can practice effective communication by using clear, simple and positive language so every recipient understands your message and follows directions enthusiastically. Consider revising the way you give messages to avoid communication barriers, such as giving too much information or saying something in a negative tone. You can also allow your employees to ask questions and give feedback to you.

Related: How to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work in 10 Steps

2. Active listening

Active listening is the act of paying attention to what your speaker is saying and fully understanding their perspective before giving a response. Active listening is important to make sure that you give the right answers to your speaker so they feel heard and respected.

To be an active listener, you may remove distractions, maintain eye contact and offer verbal or non-verbal cues to indicate your engagement and understanding. Once a speaker has finished their statements, make sure that you repeat a summary of what they have said and then ask follow-up questions to understand more about what they need. In certain situations, you can also choose to express your sympathy or enthusiasm accordingly. Afterwards, offer concrete advice or answers to their questions and ask if there is anything else you can do for them.

Read more: What Are Active Listening Skills? (Definition and Examples)

3. Resolving conflicts

In a dynamic workplace, conflicts may occur every now and then. This can be conflicts among coworkers of the same rank, coworkers of different positions or departments and even between employees and customers or clients. In such instances, effective conflict-resolution skills are necessary to resolve such situations. As a workplace leader, you can mediate between opposing parties and help them compromise or reach a collective understanding. During mediation, try to see the situation objectively and refrain from taking sides. After mediation, monitor the situation to ensure the conflict is fully resolved and to prevent it from occurring again.

Related: Earn Respect With 7 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Work

4. Patience

While resolving conflicts or managing different tasks and projects, it's crucial that workplace leaders maintain their patience and use kindness, respect and empathy. When employees trust their managers are patient, they're more likely to ask for help or support to ensure they can do their best to complete tasks. Being patient is a skill you can achieve with practice and self-restraint. When difficult situations arise or when dealing with a coworker or client, try to listen and understand their situation carefully. After taking time to properly process any information received, give your response in a calm and level-headed manner.

5. Empowering employees

Empowering employees can help in building positive relationships and increasing productivity. You can empower employees by:

  • thoroughly training new employees and giving them the knowledge and resources they need

  • making yourself available for questions or additional training

  • giving credit and recognition to employees who are performing well

  • offering constructive and effective feedback to employees who need extra help

  • delegating tasks to appropriate employees based on their talents and interests

  • supporting your employees in managing challenging projects

6. Motivating employees

Motivation is beneficial to increasing employee productivity. Motivated employees are more inclined to work on projects and reach business goals. As a workplace leader, you can motivate your employees in two main ways:

  • Motivating them intrinsically: You can boost employees' intrinsic motivation by encouraging them to take additional skill-building courses and learning opportunities. You can also offer flexible working opportunities if it improves their productivity.

  • Motivating them extrinsically: You can motivate your employees through extrinsic reward and benefit programmes that are based on fair assessments of skills and talent.

7. Building trust

Strong and lasting professional relationships often rely on mutual trust. Trust can come in many forms, but generally means that you can rely on someone's abilities, assistance or advice. Mutual trust between teams and team leaders can reduce miscommunications and improve productivity. You can build trust by always performing your tasks reliably and demonstrating technical skills when employees ask for help. Keeping any promises of rewards or opportunities to employees is also a good way to build trust.

8. Taking accountability

There can be situations that require you to take accountability for your actions or decisions. In such circumstances, make sure that you take accountability for them and implement actionable plans to remedy the situation. Taking accountability for difficult situations can indicate strong leadership to your coworkers and encourage them to do the same. When everyone in an organisation takes accountability for their actions, business procedures run smoothly, mistakes receive acknowledgement and resolution and the quality of work increases.

Related: How to Apologise at Work: Guided Steps and Examples

How to develop your people management ability

Below are some strategies you can use to develop your people management ability:

1. Take part in management training

Companies often offer management training for leaders across different departments and teams. These training sessions can provide useful strategies to develop your people management ability and to build relationships and networks. You may contact the human resources department at your company for information on any opportunities. If there are no management training programmes in place, you could initiate and organise such programmes yourself.

2. Enrol in professional development courses

If your company does not offer in-house training programmes, you may wish to enrol in professional development courses at universities or educational institutions. It's a good idea to check whether you're eligible for funding from your company to take such courses. These courses specialise in training you to develop one or more people management skills.

3. Read books on developing people management

A more cost-effective option is to read books on people management. You may research different authors and their strategies and choose the books that you think can be effective in helping you develop people management skills. You can also share these books with employees after you're done reading them.

4. Network with other managers and professionals

Networking with other managers and professionals can be a great way to gain insights and advice on managing your team and building relationships with your team members. You may attend business conferences, conventions or connect with them on online professional networking sites. You can consider modelling team structures and processes off of other successful teams.

5. Build a regular feedback, reward and remedy system

You can build up your people management ability by putting in place a feedback, reward and remedy system that identifies talent and solves problems. It's also important that you carry out this system regularly. This helps make sure that you're noticing and appreciating employees' work and that you're available for any help that they need.

Related: What Is Company Culture? (With Components and Examples)

Why is people management important?

Managing people is important for a number of reasons including:

1. Handling interpersonal conflicts

Managers and employees in leadership positions have an important role in resolving conflicts. Effective people management can help you mediate conflicts between employees in a way that promotes collaboration and respect. Reducing interpersonal conflict can create a more positive and productive work environment.

2. Leading employee training

Training and induction programmes are crucial to make sure that employees can fully understand and integrate into the procedures of a business. As a workplace leader, you may be responsible for onboarding new employees and coaching current employees. Effective people management means that you can provide constructive feedback and mentor employees so they can succeed in their positions.

3. Managing deadlines

Directing employees includes assigning tasks and establishing achievable goals. Effective people management can help you evaluate your team's resources and set realistic deadlines that encourage progress. Consistently meeting your own deadlines can also motivate employees to meet their own.

4. Building company culture

As a workplace leader, you have the power to influence and promote the company's culture into a positive one. You can use your people management responsibilities to build rapport, give support and advice and provide constructive feedback on employees to create a fair and supportive work culture. Positive and supportive work cultures are often more productive.

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