In its broadest sense, the term ‘people management’ could be said to apply to anyone you have to interact with professionally. However, for this article, we are going to focus on thinking about junior colleagues that we manage.
People management is frequently underestimated in terms of its complexity and the time investment required. It is only once an individual assumes this responsibility that the challenges become clear. From afar, it can seem a simple responsibility.
However, it is an important one to master as in most organisations increased seniority comes with people management responsibilities.
I encounter many clients who feel their team is a burden, rather than an asset and for whom much of every day is taken up with dealing with ‘people issues’.
In this article, I want to look at 7 key points to keep in mind to reduce these challenges for you if you already manage people and to support your thinking and preparation if this is a role you will undertake in the near future.
- Role modelling – often members of your team will learn some behaviours from you; they will look to see how you tackle difficult conversations, how you present and how you manage professional relationships – to name but a few examples. Whilst this does mean you are open to criticism and have to constantly think of what you are role modelling, it is a great opportunity to think about the tangible impact you can have on the development of your team.
- Make time – many people expect their team to just get on with their jobs and in some instances they need to. However, when you start to lead a new team or there is a change in what needs to be delivered, they will need more of your time to get them up and running. It is likely to feel like hard work, but in the long run it will be worth the time investment as it will build knowledge of one another, trust and an ability to delegate more further down the line.
- Consider the different strengths and styles of your team members – what works with some may not work with them all. They are likely to need varying levels of support and different styles of communication, so spend some time thinking about this to get the best out of them.
- Really listen, time is often short but when big people problems develop in the team, it is frequently because someone hasn’t been listened to or had the right development time spent on them. Try to listen for what your team don’t say as well as how they say what they do say!
- Consider how people can work flexibly yet still get the benefits of working together. Is it worth instigating certain days/hours when people need to be in the office to improve knowledge sharing and build the team sentiment? Whilst the ability to work flexibly is important, it is also essential to connect with your team beyond the phone and email.
- Consider individual development needs, not only is this important for developing the skills individuals need, but also so they feel invested in; that way you are more likely to retain them too. Make time for helping individuals think through their career plans.
- Get to know them a bit personally. Whilst boundaries are important at work, having an understanding of who someone is, what is important to them and what else they have in their life is really worthwhile. It will help to build the relationship which is especially important when there are difficult conversations to be had as it will make them easier and it will also make day-to-day work more enjoyable.
Ideally, managing people should be a joy, as you get to directly input into their development and facilitate them fulfilling their potential. However, there are often challenges which I hope the above considerations will help you to experience less frequently. When people management is at its best in a team, people are productive, motivated, they develop and everyone enjoys their work more.
To discuss, this challenge with me or any other that is affecting your working life and career progression, click here to arrange a no obligation Career Booster conversation.