A gold number five on a dark red wooden door to represent the five people management skills in the article.
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5 people management skills you need and how to build them

27 Apr 2022

Whether you’re a manager of one person or 10, there are several critical skills that you need to succeed.

Often, career progression and promotions involve moving to a more senior role in your industry, which can often come with a managerial element to it.

However, while you might be highly experienced in your field, be it software engineering, manufacturing or quality control in pharma, being a leader is a whole different ball game. It will require a certain set of people management skills that you may not have needed before.

Future Human

Whether you’re just starting out on your managerial journey or you’re progressing to an even bigger team, it’s important to hone these skills to effectively manage your team members while inspiring confidence and trust.

Relationship building

In order to lead a team, no matter how big or small, your team members have to know and trust you. Building relationships with those you are managing is a vital part of being a manager because if colleagues trust you, they will trust your decisions and will feel comfortable coming to you with problems.

Part of building strong relationships with your team is giving praise and credit regularly when they’re due. It’s important that employees feel valued and, as a manager, it’s your job to recognise them for the work they’re doing.

Don’t neglect small talk and non-work conversations too. If your team members feel they are able to chat casually with you, it will further solidify your relationships and make them feel more comfortable talking to you about work-related issues.

Career development

We’ve talked before about the importance of managers having a coaching mindset. Being able to help your employees learn, develop and grow is a key element to being their manager.

There’s an old adage that states people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. A bad manager can have any number of traits, but one of them could be a manager who constantly delegates work without giving employees a chance to take on new responsibilities, upskill or come up with new ideas.

To start developing this skill, take a look at the members of your team and identify their strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can use their strengths as a guide to give them new responsibilities in areas they will thrive. Meanwhile, the weaknesses can help direct you on a strategy of how to train staff up in those areas too.

Decision making

As well as building relationships with your employees and helping them develop, a key element of your role as a manger will be to make decisions on things you may have never had the final say on before.

Teaching your staff autonomy is good, but they will more than likely still come to you with questions. The key to being a better decision maker comes down to critical thinking and having courage in your convictions.

There may be five possible answers to a question. But if you have been promoted to management level, you have been identified as a person with the skills to figure out the best of those answers.

Honing this skill is not about being right every time, it’s about being able to quickly analyse the information, make an informed decision and having the confidence to back that decision up.

Communication

We have highlighted communication many times as a key skill for both employees and leaders. This skill has become more important than ever in the new era of remote and hybrid working, and managers need to ensure those communication lines are as open as possible.

This requires consistent, regular communication with your team without micromanaging. You should have open lines of communication so you know what they’re working on while also showing you trust them to work independently.

Simply telling your employees once that they should come to you with any questions is not enough. Whenever you are delegating work, be clear about what you want them to do and make sure they understand.

Patience

One of the most important people management skills you can have is patience. No matter how busy or stressed you are, you should always have patience for your team to come to you with queries.

That’s not to say you should be on call all the time, give up your lunches and have your work phone switched on while you’re on annual leave. But having an ‘open door’ policy – even if that is a virtual open door for remote workers – is an important element of being a good people manager.

And when your employees do come to you with questions, you shouldn’t make them feel bad for not knowing something or as if they’re going to get in trouble for even asking. That will just make them avoid coming to you with questions in the future.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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