I’ve always been an advocate for finding the right people managers, so the pandemic has really brought this to a new level of importance. People management is not just about checking work, it’s about guiding people through the unseen scenarios that make or break success at an individual level, and also at an organisational level.
Lockdown was the first time in remembered history that workers at all levels, in every industry, were figuring things out together as equals. So while the daily flow did differ from person to person – some people faced overwhelming home schooling, others pushed through months of solitude, many lived through escalated domestic abuse, and nearly all had to navigate new ways of working – our global workforce was in it together.
Excellent People Managers Know How to Bring People Together.
People managers who focus on team development and were open to individual circumstances performed best during lockdown. This shows us the value of authentic leadership, which is a teachable skill.
Here are my 5 top skills we should be developing in every potential people manager.
1. Develop for the Future.
Success is not about knowing what will happen down the line, but having the inherent skills built into your way of thinking to facilitate problem-solving with natural innovation.
The key is to encourage life long learning.
When we learn about things that genuinely inspire us, and actively collaborate with others to share knowledge and skills, we develop a framework of quick-release tools that can be tapped into any time the need to adapt arises.
Developing for the future keeps one eye focused on today, and one eye open to the unseen challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
2. Coach for Success.
Coaching has long been considered one of the most successful ways to develop people. Deep learning is no longer exclusive to executives and senior members of the team. Today, coaching is widely available, relatively affordable, and tailored to individual needs.
Coaching encourages self-development and equips people to coach others for shared gain.
For some people managers, personality profiling or brainmapping may highlight areas of pattern or self-inefficiency that can promote greater awareness for growth. For others, working with an individual coach can make goals achievable within a set timeframe, and motivates individuals to expand their existing contribution.
Investing in our internal people managers to develop their coaching skills enables them to inspire people, which drives growth and personal investment.
Coaching is a collaborative environment that benefits the individual, the coach, and the business as a whole, with a host of benefits that compound exponentially over time. What’s not to love about that?
3. Inspire a Quality Contribution
People managers are not just timesheet controllers with a few spreadsheets. They need to encourage and promote a sense of contribution and accountability within the teams they manage.
The best people managers focus on micro gains, which is the process of making a marginal difference at every touchpoint, with every employee, every day. When the tiny improvements are added together, they create a snowball effect, and the entire team reaches optimal performance.
Our people managers should be trained to make small adjustments to the individual employee’s way of thinking, to actively encourage a culture of contribution, where no contribution is too small to make a difference, even if it’s not single-handedly the perfect solution.
As a wise colleague likes to say, if we can make a 1% improvement to our performance every single day, a year later we will enjoy the benefits of 365% personal growth.
4. Manage the Person, Not the Process
What we learned in lockdown is that people are social beings who require human interaction to thrive. We also discovered that every person responds differently to stress, and every individual adapts differently to change.
Processes ensure people have the right information, but the people in our teams process the information differently, so it’s essential our people managers have a willingness to meet employees within their own individual comfort zones.
Workplace happiness is now a key criteria talented employees use to pre-qualify the companies they wish to work with. People managers need to keep up with people-driven leadership to create an environment that brings the best out of others and allows every employee to reach their peak performance.
People need to be at the forefront of process.
5. Listen with Empathy.
There has never been a more important time to allow our people to talk openly about their needs and experiences in the workplace.
The pandemic has highlighted the various personal problems people are dealing with on a daily basis. This has brought workers of all levels into a shared understanding that people have their own set of unique personal challenges and are dealing with various levels of spinning plates at all times.
People managers need to develop empathy to encourage openness, show genuine kindness, and keep doors open, so that employees can feel comfortable asking to have their needs met.
When people managers listen well, they show authentic support which pushes all members of the team forward into the future.
Develop Your People Managers to Develop Your Business.
People managers are some of the most important people in the business ecosystem, so it’s essential we equip our people managers to do a fantastic job!
The best people managers are naturally supportive with a high degree of empathy. They manage the people, not the process, and coach others for success.
Quality people managers understand the value of making positive contributions, recognise the importance of micro gain son a daily basis, and actively encourage others to enjoy lifelong learning to plan for the future.
The pandemic may have shown us new ways of working, but strong people management has always been one of the fundamental building blocks in business. When we develop the right skills in our people managers, they develop the right teams for our business.
Thanks to our Associate, Vicky Connor, Organisational Development Consultant and Owner of People Learn for this guest blog.