If asked to describe their favorite manager, most people would probably use the words inspiring, charismatic, personable, and knowledgeable. It is easy to distinguish strong management from poor management based on their abilities to manage people; strong managers connect with their employees and value their growth and well-being, whereas poor managers may care only about profitability and organizational goals at the expense of their team.
Don't underestimate the effect that quality people management skills have on an organization. Having strong human skills when managing people can make a huge difference in a team's ability to perform. Rather than showing up and doing the bare minimum, employees thrive-- are motivated to contribute, welcome feedback and communication, and are inspired to push the limits and be more productive in their roles.
What are human skills in management? Our definition
Human management skills are acquired, or natural abilities that help a leader positively manage people. These skills include interpersonal and soft skills, such as awareness, communication, and compassion. These skills often inspire loyalty amongst followers and motivate them in the workplace.
These human skills directly impact employee training and development and are essential in managing employees effectively. Any people management definition will include that the necessary components to inspire and drive others are honesty and trust, which is cultivated by the traits mentioned in this article.
What is the importance of people management skills in business?
People management skills are a very critical aspect of a high-performing team. Strong skills can boost employee engagement, build trust, and foster good communication in the workplace. A great manager has mastered the essential people management skills and utilizes them regularly to ensure other team members’ wellbeing, growth, and productivity.
People typically leave managers, not organizations; a Gallup poll found that 75% of American workers cited poor management as the reason they decided to find a new job. Another study by SHRM found that 84% of American workers say poorly trained people managers create a lot of unnecessary work and stress--meaning, most managers in America could benefit from mastering their people management skills.
People management skills list
Take a look at these personnel management skills and determine which you have mastered already and which may need improvement. Although many interpersonal skills are required to be an effective leader, this manager skill list discusses the main competencies necessary to create a strong company culture, inspire employee motivation, and increase employee performance for a more effective team.
Setting an intentional, caring culture for your team shows employees that you prioritize them first, which ultimately helps everyone feel more secure in their jobs, connected to their teams, and motivated to work. A leader must be a good role model for employees; cultivating empathy in the workplace can encourage others to have compassion and understanding for one another. Empathy can also help leaders better support their team and guide them towards success.
2. Strong communication
Communication is instrumental in growth and development and plays a significant role in the overall efficiency and well-being of a team. Communication can take various forms such as written, verbal, short slack messages, weekly one-on-ones, all-team meetings, and more. This skill also includes a manager’s ability to speak clearly, persuade others, and listen to others. Communicating with others effectively can increase morale, satisfaction, and productivity while decreasing turnover.
3. A clear vision
To inspire other team members towards a common goal, you must have a clear vision. It is critical to view the big picture and understand each team member’s part in achieving that goal. You know what steps need to be taken to achieve success with a clear vision. You may also consider the abilities and strengths of your team and envision goals that encompass that potential. Seeing beyond the “current state of the organization” and driving growth with clarity is a necessary skill to lead others successfully.
There will always be problems that need solutions, and employees often look to their managers in times of crisis seeking support. When leaders are good at solving problems, success is more easily achieved. Problem-solving skills are essential to being an effective people manager.
Honesty is necessary for employees to trust their managers (and each other) and should not be neglected if the end goal is to build a strong team. If you can be open with the team about good news or bad, it will foster a culture of respect and trust. Although it may be challenging to deliver negative feedback or information, it inspires others to be honest in return.
Circumstances might change, and not everyone works in the same way. As a people manager, being flexible to other working styles and adaptable in times of change can improve team response and performance. In business, things are constantly evolving-- deadlines, objectives, needs, team members, etc. With new ideas and perspectives joining the workforce, leaders must learn adaptability in team management to embrace change and continue to thrive in their roles.
7. Growth mindset
Most people look at a job as a chance to grow their careers and skills. Unsurprisingly, opportunities for growth and development are big selling points for candidates. Being assured that the organization and manager care about their growth can increase engagement, productivity, and retention.
Training and development opportunities or additional resources to help employees grow and learn make quite an impact; even providing creative and interactive video assets with help from tools such as Movavi Video Editor can further engage employees and encourage growth and learning. Tools such as Quicktalk are great options when streamlining communication strategies, such as enabling employees to more efficiently manage their customer calls. Providing and utilizing resources such as these can motivate employees and help them feel valued. Work with your employees to discuss their goals and plan, and make it a priority to check in with them regularly.
Inevitably, things will go wrong, and people will make mistakes. When things aren’t going great, it is crucial to be a supportive manager. Encouraging and reassuring them when they are struggling will help them continue productively working. Support can be words of encouragement, active listening, offering solutions, and so much more, and can help team members feel valued and willing to improve.
Forming connections with team members will help create a strong foundation for a more trusting, honest, and close-knit team. When team members feel connected with their manager, they likely will be more engaged and satisfied in the workplace. It can also motivate employees to collaborate more effectively with one another.
10. Being approachable
Being approachable is a significant factor in successfully forming connections with team members. Listening to, building rapport, and frequently engaging with employees can make managers more likable and trusted. Doing so can also help managers be more informed about issues or concerns and understand how to better support employees.
Practicing good judgment and decisiveness is a valuable skill– as many decisions fall upon management. When leaders are confident in their choices, they can inspire others to believe in their choice and work towards a common goal. On the other hand, faltering when making difficult decisions can appear weak and untrustworthy to others. Having a strategy to help you make quick and informed decisions can help you master this skill.
Patience enhances leadership skills and allows you to make better-informed decisions. When leaders demonstrate patience, they earn the respect of their employees and reaffirm the importance of taking a step back to see the larger picture when looking to solve a problem. Patience can also facilitate higher levels of collaboration and understanding in the workplace.
Good managers take responsibility for their actions–both the good and the bad. Employees may take note if managers only hold themselves accountable for the good and may lose respect or confidence as a result. As leaders, managers must take responsibility for themselves and their team members and work with them to inspire improvement and solve any problems.
Managers must be able to motivate their employees; otherwise, they risk low engagement, productivity, efficiency, creativity, and so much more. These different aspects are directly linked to company performance, and when neglected, can result in an unhappy and low-performing team. Each person is different– while one may be motivated by new challenges, another may be motivated by collaborative projects and group work. To be an effective manager, learning what motivates your employees is vital. You can learn more about what motivates (and what drains) your employees by having them take a personality assessment.
15. Active listening
Practicing active listening shows your employees that they are valued contributors to the organization and allows them to voice their concerns or needs. When leaders are in tune with their employees, they can support them better and make needed adjustments to reach their goals. When employees feel heard, they likely will be more motivated in their roles and ultimately perform better.
16. Interest in others
Similar to active listening, showing a genuine interest in employees will make them feel valued as members of the team. Doing so can also boost engagement and morale, leading to a more cooperative and collaborative work environment. Make an effort to ask employees more questions to show you care or engage in water cooler talk every so often. This shows employees that you aren’t just a figurehead or rule enforcer, but someone they genuinely have a connection with and can talk to.
Strong management knows employee strengths and can delegate to highlight them while avoiding any blind spots. Understanding how an employee will thrive, and delegating appropriately, can have a significant impact on overall team performance. Growth is inevitable when people are working their best and spending their energy doing what they excel at. If employees are consistently delegated the wrong tasks, many aspects of the business could suffer.
18. Strategic thinking
Part of being a good leader is looking to the future when making plans for the present. Employees will have more respect for a manager who doesn’t only focus on today’s problems but can set them up for success in the future. When making plans, an effective leader will consider the needs of employees, clients, and the organization, as well as effectiveness and any consequences. Solving problems, delegating, and making decisions mean nothing if there is no strategy behind them.
19. Conflict resolution
With different personalities in the workplace, people are surely going to butt heads at some point. Being an influential people manager means addressing and handling conflict appropriately amongst your team. Understand that each person may approach conflict differently, and sometimes conflict resolution may not be a "one size fits all.” Understanding the personalities of your team can help you effectively support them in conflict resolution. Crystal offers playbooks-- customized guides that will help you and your team handle different communication and conflict scenarios with ease.
And, of course, none of the above people management skills matter unless a manager is consistent. A great manager will be consistent with their management style, soft skills, communication skills, and their word--showing employees that they can count on and trust their manager. For example, employees will lose interest, motivation, and trust if you tell employees they will be rewarded for meeting goals and then fall short on your end of the bargain. As manager needs change within a team or organization, effective leaders will learn the balance between adaptability and consistency.
How do you gain effective people management experience?
Regardless of whether you are in a leadership role, it is crucial to develop managerial skills. When you understand how to develop management skills, you are better equipped to handle various situations in the workplace and are aligned with your future goal (assuming you plan to obtain a management position).
Taking the lead on a project, helping with employee training and onboarding practices, and forging meaningful connections with other team members are all ways you can gain experience in people management. Prioritize the above skills in your current role so that when a management opportunity presents itself, you have mastered the skills needed to be a great manager.
How your managerial team can improve their people management skillset
There are many employee management skills a leader should have, and management teams should prioritize the alignment of their leaders to such skills. When manager skill sets are mastered, the benefits can be felt organization-wide. Consider enrolling managerial teams in training courses that can teach them how to improve management skills. Another option is to encourage more employee feedback so that management understands which skills may need improvement.
Other people management tips
1. Welcome learning opportunities
When managers can frame learning (from mistakes or otherwise) as growth opportunities, employees are more likely to innovate and take risks. Just because someone is a manager does not mean they have all the answers. Learning is a lifelong gift, and a good manager is always open to growth rather than fearful of mistakes.
2. Be positive
It should go without saying that great managers bring positive energy into the workplace. Lead by example, and inspire a positive work environment from other team members.
3. Avoid micromanagement
Employees will respect and value a manager that opts out of micromanaging their every move. When managers give employees autonomy at work, they show that they trust them to get the job done and respect their work abilities.
Our key takeaways on the effective management of people
Bottom line, people management is about building strong and meaningful connections with your team members. A solid relationship with direct reports can motivate them to work harder, perform better, grow in their roles, and face challenges confidently. Through practice, any people manager can learn and master the skills needed in fostering an engaged and effective team.
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