What are people management skills?

People management skills, also known as ‘soft skills’, are harder to define than technical skills. They include skills such as communication, trust, and patience, to name a few and put simply they are the skills you need to treat, communicate with and lead your people as a manager for maximum results. 

A manager with these skills can be the difference between a team that’s frustrated, confused and underperforming and a team that’s productive, motivated and engaged.

Why are people management skills so important?

Businesses are made up of people of different ages, from various backgrounds, and with different ideas of how to work. This means different groups within your business will be motivated by different things and will work best in particular ways.

To ensure that everyone in the team reaches their maximum potential, managers must build up a toolkit of people management skills. This is needed not only to motivate each member of the team, improve productivity and boost staff morale, but to also offer support and reduce stress in times of change, disruption or uncertainty. As this must all be done whilst aligning individual career goals and the goals of the company, holding a broad range of people management skills that can be utilised for different people and different situations is the only effective way to get there. 

Overall, the manager/employee relationship is positively influenced by strong people management skills. By harnessing and developing these skills, you are able to give your reports the support and motivation they need to perform, develop and face new challenges.

9 people management skills you need to thrive as a manager

1. Trust

As in any relationship, trust is important. And the manager/employee relationship is no different.

It is vital that managers show their employees that they trust them and this can be displayed in a number of ways.

One source of frustration for many employees is micro-management. Obviously, with years of experience behind you, you might be able to spot ways of working that could be improved for efficiency, before others see them. But by constantly watching over your teams, it could lead to you losing track of the bigger picture and annoying team members in the process.

Instead, try assigning a job, outlining the expected outcomes, allowing time for any questions and making it known that you’re there to help should there be any more questions.

As a manager, when you show your employees that you trust them, they will take ownership of their own work and only look to you for advice when they need it. Not only will this make processes more efficient for you, they will also be able to work without any interference. This helps your team to grow and be more confident within themselves – developing your employees as people and within their careers.

manager leading team meeting looking positive

2. Good communication

Good communication skills are vital to being a great manager and they can be the difference between trust or uncertainty within times of change.

Communication skills encompass almost every management task; great leaders need to be able to present ideas and visions to inspire others, highlight the importance of tasks, discuss next steps with staff and get on with those around them.

By honing these skills, your employees will have greater clarity over their tasks and better transparency of the business. This, in turn, leads to greater efficiency and can also lead to higher staff retention rates.

3. Ability to motivate

We all know not every task at work is thrilling – everyone has tasks they look forward to and are motivated towards, and those they dread and will put off until the last acceptable moment.

These dreaded tasks are where people management skills come in. 

When this comes to those less exciting tasks, you need to create reasoning or an argument as to why something needs to be done in a certain way and why it’s important – for both the individual’s and the business’s goals.

To successfully create this reasoning, you should work off the emotions of your employees and what matters to them. By identifying individuals' talents, abilities, and strengths – you will find what makes your team tick.

Now use your findings as a reason to act – for example, if your employee is motivated by career development, you could frame a new project as a stepping stone for this. 

manager letting his team work whilst he waits

4. Patience

Managing a team can be hard work at times and you might often feel like nothing is going in the right direction.

While this might get frustrating, it’s vital as a manager that you maintain patience.

Although some may be born more patient than others, it’s a skill that you can develop. When a difficult situation arises or mistakes happen; keep a level head, control your emotions and act in a calm manner. Try taking a deep breath and take a couple of seconds before you respond.

By maintaining your cool, you won’t react in a way that could break trust and damage relationships. The ability to respond in an appropriate way and not a way fuelled by emotions will be perceived as a strong asset by others and your employees will feel comfortable to share problems with you.

5. Ability to give credit where credit is due

At some point during your working life, it’s likely that you will have been in the position where someone above you has taken credit for a task that you worked hard on and cared about. Frustrating, isn’t it? Not only does this lead to bad feelings, it also lessens the chance of you putting in that same effort again.

As a manager, knowing when and how to attribute credit and give praise to the right people, is vital. It helps to build motivation and trust between you and your employees.

Make sure that you know what your employees are working on, how they are spending their time and keep track of their results. When you are aware of the individual efforts of your teams, you can easily show that you see and appreciate this and give the right credit.

Recognition for hard work can be given within regular one-to-ones or by using a recognition tool. Employing a recognition tool ensures that your recognition and appreciation is seen throughout the company and allows you to celebrate the people who are putting in great work on a wider scale.

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6. Problem-solving skills

What would a workplace be if problems didn’t ever arise?

Problem-solving is a key part of a manager’s job. Whether it’s being able to schedule when your employees work or finding why your annual staff turnover rate is higher this year – there are always problems to be solved.

A great manager works to identify and overcome various problems before they become bigger issues and to do this, you need outstanding attention to detail. By spotting problems before they come to a head and identifying the root of the problem you take the pressure off your employees and those above you.

7. Accountability

At the end of the day, when you are the manager, everything comes down to you. This means you’re not just responsible for your work, you’re responsible for the work of your employees too.

Good managers hold themselves accountable when things go wrong and take little credit when things go right. When employees see their managers taking accountability for their actions, they appreciate the act and return it.

When both employees and managers are taking accountability for their actions, processes run more smoothly and work is completed efficiently. Moreover, if employees know that their manager has their back, they don’t want to let them down.

manager giving positivity to team member

8. Positivity

Attitudes are contagious and it’s up to managers to ensure that it’s a positive attitude and not a negative one spreading through the workplace.

As a manager, you need to make sure that team morale is high. Try to reduce stress and keep things fun at work through friendly competitions, such as offering an incentive for reaching a milestone or setting challenges amongst teams. You can host and reward these through recognition software to ensure that the whole team gets involved.

9. Honesty

Your employees want to grow, so you need to give them the feedback that allows them to improve. But the only way that feedback can lead to real growth, is if it is honest.

This means being truthful, at both the good time, and the bad.

When giving feedback, try to understand what happened and why it happened in that way. You can then give honest, helpful feedback without being critical or negative. Not only will this show honesty and trust to your employees, it also assists with development without bringing down morale.

It’s important to remember that when you are honest with your employees, they will return the gesture – allowing you to work better together as a team.

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