Are You Embarrassed by Your People Manager Skills?

People manager, Managing people and organisation

Many managers are technically brilliant but sadly they lack the skills for managing people at work. Others are just bad managers whose working styles clash with that of their people.  There’s no doubt that it’s hard to be a people manager, especially when managing a range of personality types that may not be like your own. 

What is a People Manager?

A people manager is not a defined people management role within the workplace. It is rather a definition of the manager’s positive actions that make people feel more valued at work.

A people manager is someone who balances between the needs of the people and the business goal.  

Putting people’s priorities above anything else is a key skill of a manager who cares about the people and makes it easy for them to do the job without holding their hands.

What Skillset Should a People Manager Have? 

Connecting with People 

Having the ability to connect with people is a great skill of a manager who wants to establish relationships with employees.  

Managing people at work starts with getting on with them and then identify anything that can cause them anger, frustrations, and insecurity.  

The most successful people managers are those that build high-quality relationships with their staff members.  They bridge the gap with their people by connecting with them every day.  

It is also essential to know that in an effective people management work environment, people are considered as the most important asset of the company.   So, start putting your staff at the top of your management priorities.   

Questioning Yourself Regularly

Having good people manager skills is critical to managing people — and without the skills, you should not be managing anyone.

To understand whether you are a people manager or not, ask yourself regularly this question: In what ways are you making a positive contribution to your people?

Being able to question your own performance is a critical skill of a manager.  If you don’t have an answer, you are a non-people manager.

You are not managing people effectively if they don’t feel that their work is meaningful.  People usually do a wonderful job when they know that the manager is always working tirelessly to make their job satisfying and relevant to each person’s career goal. 

Related article: The Worst 4 Types of Manager Styles

Giving People Space to Fail

Give people challenging assignments, even if it leads to making mistakes. If they fail, don’t get them worried about it. You can talk about the failure, but not to dwell too much on it. Just switch quickly to finding the way forward. If needed, provide suggestions in a positive tone.

People often don’t like being told how to do things better next time, especially when it’s done in a critical tone.

Most employees learn from their mistakes. So, letting them work things out themselves is part of their development. Support your team members whether they are right or wrong.

Also, be willing to accept short-term failure if it leads to long-term learning and success.

Listening and Listen

Listening actively is another key skill of a manager who is interested in people.  So, do you listen more than you speak whenever you are in conversations with your team members? If you don’t learn how to stop talking and focus on the speaker.

It’s good practice for a manager to listen to your team members all the time. Managing people doesn’t mean your job is just to tell them — it’s not.

You must listen to what they say first and take the time to think before providing a response. You should never respond immediately. Think through your thoughts before providing a reply.

It is not right to immediately voice your response when your team member starts speaking. If your people feel heard and that their opinions matter to you, they will respect you more.

Managing Expectations

Managing people’s expectations is important. If things are not going well, it is good to let your employees know there’s a problem. Seek their help and plan together for how to solve it.

Not everything will go to plan, but being open about it will show that you are reliable and credible.

Minding your Integrity

Managers who practice what they preach are more trusted and their teams are more engaged. So, ensure that you are setting good examples your staff admire.

Don’t make promises you cannot fulfill. You will lose credibility if you fail to deliver on those promises. Be someone your staff wants to emulate through the way you behave and manage. Usually, people are eager to work for a manager they trust.

Trusting People

Managing people at work who are very competent can make you a great manager. You are managing staff whose brilliancy you can use to make things better for the team and yourself.

Smarter employees can rescue you from many complex work-related situations. They can find brilliant ideas and solutions to solve the magnitude of challenges.

Never be afraid to admit your mistakes to your staff members. When managing people avoid presenting yourself as the smartest. If you do not know something, tell them, and then ask for their help.

Don’t think it is a weakness to seek help from your employees. It’s rather a sensible use of resources you have at your disposal. So, trust their knowledge and tap into their expertise.

Engaging with People

Employees feel more engaged and closer to their managers in a great people management workplace. There is no “them and us” culture. They work hard as a team to take the pressure away from their managers.

So, as a people manager, you must be accessible and approachable all the time.

People want to talk to you. Don’t hole yourself away in your office. Make a conscious effort not to isolate yourself. Let them know that you have an open-door policy so they can come in anytime and talk to you about anything.

Being Self-Aware

Part of being a great people manager is understanding your own weaknesses and how they affect those you manage. Having the ability to know your weaker areas is a great skill of a manager and much needed when managing people’s wellbeing and performance.

Being self-aware gives you the opportunity to improve and start managing people’s strengths. When managing people, you must avoid spending a lot of time on their weaknesses.

There is no single person who has all the abilities to carry out the work alone. So, it is vital that you utilize everyone in your team to the best of their abilities.

Making Decisions

Being a people-centric manager does not mean avoiding making tough decisions. There are times when you must make unpopular decisions that don’t go well with everybody in the team.

The key is to let everyone under your management know that you genuinely consider them when making decisions.

Also, show your staff that you are always open and willing to receive their input. With that, you can win their support even if they are not entirely comfortable with your decisions.

People trust a manager who is transparent and treating them as valuable assets to the business.

Related article: Why Managing By Influence Is The Only Skill Every Manager Needs


Delegating is another important skill of a manager.  Don’t do everything yourself. If you feel nervous about delegation, then empowering people is going to be hard to achieve.

One thing you must know is that when you delegate, you instill confidence in people, and that helps with their personal development.

So, delegate some of your daily activities to your staff and let them manage themselves without your interference. Once they take the responsibility from you, remain on hand to give guidance if needed.

As a people manager, you must know when to support your team and when to step back to allow them to do their work without your involvement.

Giving Feedforward

In a great people management environment, managers use feedforward to improve the employees’ abilities. Feedforward can help your team members focus on a positive future, not a failed past.

With feedforward, you can give positive suggestions about the future than trying to prove they were wrong.

Giving negative feedback to your team members is about proving you were in the wrong. Feedforward focuses on solutions, not problems and the opportunity to do things better in the future.

Influencing Everyone
When managing people at work, your role is to make them find their job exciting and satisfying. One of the people manager skills is the ability to influence staff members to be self-managing.

Managing people’s emotions energizes people to do their job without you holding their hands.

Another people management skill of influencing people is by encouraging them regularly and sharing with them a sense of purpose. This makes them feel good about their work environment and also they become enthusiastic about the possibilities ahead.

Manage People with a Moral Purpose

A great people manager has the capacity to make tough but necessary choices like making people redundant or firing a member of staff.  And most employees tend to accept that the manager will make hard calls if it’s the right thing for the company and done with a moral purpose.  

Many people at work are motivated by factors other than a good salary — for example, a calling to a higher purpose, genuine passion for their work, personal loyalty to the company, recognition for their skills, the respect of their managers and peers, the opportunity to bring their ideas to fruition and many more.  

But nothing can destroy a productive group of employees quite like a bad non-people manager — because bad managers have no moral compass to guide their poor people management skills.

Are you a people manager?  What’re your views on effective people management?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below

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