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People management skills – The art of managing people

And you thought managing people was as easy as sitting on a chair and giving instructions?

And you thought managing people was as easy as sitting on a chair and giving instructions?

Developing people management skills is all about learning how to manage people at work. Managing people itself is a tedious task that only a select few are able to master, and that's exactly why not everyone can become managers. Business owners, managers and everyone else who wants effective tips on managing people, read on for lessons that will make your work life easier and efficient.

"I am the boss around here" – Lay this down loud and clear

One of the first things that you need to do in the role of a manager or a boss is to lay this fact down clearly. Your subordinates need to know that you will be managing them, their work and their time schedules henceforth. What this will essentially clarify is that you decide if they keep their jobs, get rewarded, get fired, get demoted or get promoted.

Give clear and precise instructions

Learning how to manage people is like learning how to train a child. One of the first people management skills that you will need to develop is the ability to give clear and precise information every time. As easy as it sounds, it is indeed a harrowing thing to learn. Every time you give instructions, you should remember that your words could be quoted in case of a misunderstanding. Don't allow a situation to arise where you think "Oh I wish I hadn't said that"

Expectations must be laid out clearly

If you are in charge of managing people or a team, it is likely that you will also be responsible for their performance. The management or the guys sitting above you in the organizational hierarchy are not going to catch hold of your subordinates if their performance is below par. They are going to come to you because you have assumed the responsibility of their performance. Because of this, you must develop the people management skill of laying down everything that you expect from your subordinates in plain, easy to understand language. Your team and the people you manage should be well aware of what is expected of them at work in all regards including performance, behavior, targets and more.

Be consistent

Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to managing people at work. You must remember that your consistency will passively speak volumes of the kind of work and work attitude you expect from your subordinates. Your inconsistency will only give your team a chance to point out your shortcomings.

Have a pair of ears on the office floor

As a boss, leader or the manager of a team, it is likely that you will either be given your own office or have a strategic position on the office floor. It will be nearly impossible for you to be updated on all the news, information and gossip on the office floor. To manage people effectively, you must be aware and up-to-date on what we just talked above and your best bet is to have a pair of loyal ears on the office floor.

Know the personality traits of your team members

This people management skill is all about learning individual characteristics of your team members and using them to your advantage.

  • Every individual has a different personality and a different behavioral pattern
  • Different people may be better at different tasks – Knowing individual personality traits will allow you to match the right task with the right person
  • Something that may motivate one person may not necessarily motivate another

Have one-on-one meetings with your subordinates

Take time out from your schedule to have one-on-one meetings with your team members. By doing this, you will reap the following two benefits.

  • These closed door meetings will allow your subordinates to rant, complain or shower praise on different people and different processes in the office which they may not be comfortable saying in front of others
  • You will be able to give instructions and directions to specific team members, that you may not want others to know

Document activities and milestones

Your company or organization may have its own formal processes to track activity, progress and achievement of your team members and your team as a whole. But what we are talking about here is for you to have your own little folder where you document the same, including things like.

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  • Achievement of team members
  • Arguments or serious misunderstanding amongst team members
  • Events that may seem like a future problem
  • Unacceptable behavior by subordinates on the office floor
  • Instances of poor performance
  • Instances of superior performance

These notes will help you make better decisions during times of periodical employee reviews or during times of an HR crisis.

Be the captain of the ship

With the power that allows you to manage people, comes the responsibility of being their leader. In effect, think of yourself as the captain of your very own ship. As any other caption, you are the 'go to person' for all the troubles, roadblocks and problems that your team members face on a daily basis. Your subordinates should feel comfortable to ask you to address their problems at the workplace and should have the confidence in you as a person who will be a pillar of support.

Plan continuously and learn

Did you think that learning how to manage people was as simple as learning 5 people management skills? Managing people is a continuous process which will require tedious efforts of planning and preparing on a daily basis. You will need to utilize hindsight, insight and past data on employee performance and behavior to plan your moves wisely. Remember that while being a good manager, you are essentially trying to mould and manage a human being, not a machine.


Peggy Salvatore from Mid-Atlantic States US on March 10, 2013:

Good post! As a consultant, I've observed two new managers come into a troubled situation in the last six months - one has done this beautifully from day one, the other is still struggling. The second is liked, but it is clear her troops are not sure they can follow her with confidence. So the problems she was hired to solve remain.

radharenu from India on January 23, 2013:

Hi Princess

A very good post. Some of the skill-requirements discussed here may appear too basic and elementary but have great values for the managers when it comes to managing people effectively at work. Voted up!

princesswithapen (author) on November 17, 2011:

Hi whizzer

Absolutely! Fine tuning the delivery of these skills is vital to the success of a manager. I can relate to what you've said because a previous colleague had recently switched jobs to work as a team member in a media services firm. Their manager was someone who'd been managing a construction team in the past. My colleague told me horror stories of how she and her team members simply could not relate to the management style. However like everything else in the corporate world, things ironed out and now they are a fantastic team.

Thanks heaps for stopping by again. Much appreciated!


whizzer on November 17, 2011:


You are quite right, all of those skills are indeed required and are very important key skills. I was just suggesting that the way those skills are delivered needs to be adjusted according to the situation. I do agree with all you said.

princesswithapen (author) on November 17, 2011:


Yes, there are different management styles that must be tweaked to suit different work environments and different profession. But surely things like giving clear information, documenting activities, consistency, one-on-one meetings and more are great people management skills that will come in handy regardless of the work environment.

You are right. Management of a shop floor would indeed, need a different approach than management of a professionals, say for example bankers.

Thanks for reading and leaving an insightful comment!


princesswithapen (author) on November 17, 2011:

Hi icciev

Even if you are not a manager, I'm sure you can incorporate some of these skills in your daily interaction with colleagues and co-workers. I'm glad you found this useful.

Thanks for reading and commenting!


whizzer from Ireland on November 17, 2011:

This is certainly one style of management - the 'command and control' style but there are many others. It's important to tailor the style to the work situation. Management of a shop floor would need a different approach to management of a group of professionals. Just be sure to adopt the right style.

icciev from Kuwait on November 16, 2011:

very interesting and detailed information, defiantly need to be read and followed by managers, if I am to became a manager and success thanks will be for you for sharing this important advice, voted up.

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