It’s long established that people management skills—the ability to communicate, motivate, and empathize with others—are key for success in any career and essential for overall business success. As such, keep these skills in mind when hiring new employees for your small business and develop these among your current employees and managers.
Below are the top 15 people management skills that employees, especially managers, should have.
To be an effective people manager, communication is key. Good communication can
- Improve employee engagement
- Increase productivity
- Create a positive work environment
When employees feel like they are being heard and their concerns are being addressed, they are more likely to be engaged in their work. Additionally, managers who can effectively communicate expectations and provide feedback will see increased productivity from their employees.
Unfortunately, not all managers possess strong communication skills. This can often lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and a lack of trust between managers and employees.
Communication also matters to an employee’s sense of well-being. According to a Gallup survey, among employees who strongly agree their manager keeps them informed, 78% also strongly agree that their company cares about their overall well-being.
Respect is a fundamental human need, and when it is shown to employees, they feel appreciated. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and employee satisfaction.
Given the importance of this skill, managers need to make sure that they are showing respect to their employees regularly. This can be done through simple actions such as thanking employees for their hard work or providing supportive feedback.
When employees feel respected, they are more likely to be happy with their job and perform at a high level. This benefits both the employer and the employee, making it a win-win situation.
According to a Motivation of Modern Workers survey, 39% of workers most want praise, respect, and recognition from their current employers.
Persuading people to do something they may not want to do is a difficult task for managers. The key to persuasion is understanding what the other person wants and needs. Once you know this, you can tailor your message to appeal to their interests.
If you can’t figure out what the other person wants, try asking them directly. People usually appreciate honesty, and it shows that you’re interested in their opinion.
It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to persuasion. The best way to learn how to persuade people is by trial and error. With practice, you’ll eventually get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
A recent Workplace Learning Trends report shows that persuasion ranks No. 1 (78%) in sales and customer experience skills. Using these same skills of persuasion within your workforce can also increase the overall employee experience.
Trust is vital for any organization, but even more so as we enter an era of remote work. When employees feel trusted, they are more engaged in their work and more likely to surpass expectations. However, a lack of trust can lead to employee disengagement and decreased productivity.
Trust is built on communication, mutual respect, and shared values. Managers who take the time to get to know their employees and build relationships based on trust will create a more positive and productive work environment.
In any workplace, managers need to be open to hearing about problems, errors, and other challenges. This openness allows for a more fair and impartial way of responding to these issues.
When managers are open to hearing about problems, they can gain a better understanding of what’s going on in their workplace. This understanding can help them build trust between managers and their employees.
Employees need to feel like they can come to their manager with problems without fear of judgment or reprisal. When employees feel like they can’t speak up about problems, it can lead to a toxic work environment. Therefore, managers must create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming forward with challenges.
A Catalyst survey of 12,000-plus employees found that manager openness had a positive impact on employees’ creativity, dedication, and “willingness to go above and beyond.”
The ability of managers to lead calmly and effectively is more important than ever as the workplace is changing at a fast clip as a result of COVID-19 and other societal factors. The best leaders know how to keep a cool head in a crisis, view employee mistakes as learning opportunities, and maintain a positive outlook. They can effectively do this by:
- Remaining calm and making clear-headed decisions that will benefit their employees and the company as a whole.
- Fostering an environment of learning and innovation, in which mistakes are simply opportunities for growth.
Thoughtfulness is expressed in many ways—empathy for a co-worker who is having problems at home or recognition that team members in an argument may each have valid points. It also means remembering to give credit where credit is due, as well as smaller things, like remembering a birthday or a work anniversary.
Thoughtfulness makes employees feel recognized and valued. It’s the little things that count, like taking the time to get to know your employees and understanding what motivates them. A thoughtful manager will also take into account an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, tailoring their management style accordingly. This shows that you care about your employees as individuals and not just cogs in a machine.
Creating a culture of thoughtfulness in your workplace will not only make your employees feel valued but will lead to better performance and higher levels of employee engagement. So, if you want to be a successful manager, start being more thoughtful.
Thoughtfulness is an important people skill, according to Harvard Business Review, that may be of even greater importance in a remote work environment, particularly when dealing with employees new to remote work.
The opposite of micromanagement, macro-management means a more hands-off style of leadership. Macro-managers focus more on the big picture and less on the day-to-day operations, giving workers more freedom to get the job done.
Macro-management requires trust but can lead to a less stressful, more creative working environment that lets employees grow. That can lead to more job satisfaction as well as more time for managers to concentrate on the big ideas that can grow a business.
Preparation is an important people manager skill that helps managers be successful in their roles. By taking the time to prepare for meetings, events, and projects, managers can ensure that they are organized and have all of the information they need to make sound decisions.
Preparation is a key people management skill for several reasons.
- When managers are prepared, they can communicate effectively with their team. This clear communication helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.
- Preparation allows managers to anticipate potential problems and develop solutions in advance. This proactive approach can help avoid or resolve issues before they cause disruptions or delays.
- Being prepared shows employees that their manager cares about their success and is invested in helping them reach their full potential. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be engaged and productive members of the team.
Without preparation, managers would be constantly reacting to issues as they arise instead of being proactive. This would lead to more mistakes being made and a higher likelihood of problems going unresolved.
Honesty is more than a value in people management; it is a skill. Managers who are skilled at being honest with their employees create an environment of trust, which can lead to increased productivity and creativity.
However, honesty also has its challenges, as it can sometimes be difficult to maintain open communication if there are disagreements between manager and employee. Additionally, some managers may feel that they need to sugarcoat the truth to protect their employees from disappointment or discouragement.
Ultimately, the decision of how honest to be with employees is up to the individual manager. However, those who are skilled at being honest with their employees tend to create more trusting and productive relationships.
Disciplining an employee is not easy, but it is part of being honest with your workers and yourself. Read our article on how to discipline an employee for creating and managing a fair workplace for all.
While linked to honesty and communication, giving fair feedback is its own skill. It involves understanding the role of the employee, their talents, and their needs and creating achievable goals with them. Feedback also requires an ability to be objective and understand the company’s mission.
When giving feedback, it is important to be clear and concise. The goal is to help the employee improve, not to make them feel bad. It is also important to give feedback in a way that the employee can understand. This means using language that they can grow from and providing specific examples.
Giving feedback is a skill that takes time and practice to master. However, it is an essential part of being a good manager. By taking the time to give fair and constructive feedback, you can help your employees reach their full potential.
It’s important to keep track of your employees’ work and look for trends that should be praised or addressed. Learn more in our article on performance management.
Supporting employees takes a combination of communication, thoughtfulness, honesty, and openness. It also requires understanding your employees’ workload and not overloading them with projects and tasks (especially busy work) and watching out for signs of burnout.
Employers need to take steps to support their employees. Here are some things you can do:
- Check in regularly with your team members. Ask how they are doing and if there is anything you can do to help them.
- Be flexible with work hours and deadlines. Understand that people may have different needs.
- Offer resources and support for employees who are struggling. This could include mental health resources, financial assistance, or childcare options.
Low employee morale can affect reaching goals, productivity, employee turnover, and ultimately your profitability. By providing proper support—either by simply lending an ear or sharing some tips and advice—you can stave off burnout and increase morale.
Decisiveness is an important people management skill that inspires confidence. It’s the ability to make a decision quickly and efficiently without overthinking or second-guessing yourself. This skill is essential for people in management positions, as they need to be able to make decisions that will impact their team’s work.
Being decisive shows that you’re confident in your abilities and trust your judgment. It’s a quality that others will admire and respect. If you’re unsure of yourself, it’ll be difficult to gain the trust of those around you. When people see that you’re able to make quick decisions, they’ll have more faith in your ability to lead them.
If you want to develop this skill, start by practicing making small decisions quickly. Once you get more comfortable with this, move on to bigger choices.
Fostering a work environment that encourages creativity is an important leadership and people manager skill; after all, creativity is what drives innovation and new ideas. And, without innovation, businesses would stagnate.
So how do you foster a work environment that encourages creativity? Here are a few tips:
- Encourage open-mindedness and curiosity. This means being willing to try new things and explore different ideas. Encouraging an open-minded attitude will help to foster a more creative environment.
- Promote collaboration over competition. When people work together, they can bounce ideas off each other and come up with better solutions than they could on their own.
- Allow humor. This helps people enter a relaxed, playful state that enables creativity.
In a recent survey, 60% of employees would consider a change in their work environment if it meant they could be more creative and innovative.
Leadership is an important skill needed for people management. Leaders set the tone for their team and are responsible for creating a positive work environment. People managers must be able to motivate and inspire their teams to achieve goals.
Leadership is not only about setting the direction for your team but also about supporting and developing your members. A good leader will provide guidance and feedback to help their individual members grow and develop their skills.
Check out some inspiring quotes from managers on what they consider key traits for leaders.
To keep your workforce, you need good people skills. After all, studies have shown a primary reason people leave a job is to escape a bad boss, but even more than that, good leaders foster good working environments where employees want to stay.
The need to keep your workforce satisfied may be more important now than ever, as the pandemic reset how workers view their work life. Focus on the skills above as part of your hiring efforts and ongoing development initiatives to ensure you don’t lose valuable employees in the long run.