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Being a people manager isn’t easy!

27 Aug 2015 - Blog

Being a people manager isn’t easy!

Each of us is different. We have different upbringings, different experiences in life, different ways of looking at the world, different friends, families and enemies, we like different foods, drinks and hobbies, we want to go to different places of holiday, or we don’t want to go on holiday at all. And all of these differences describe only the first few words in a book of infinite chapters.

As managers, we have to deal with many different personalities within our teams of people, each one bringing an unlimited amount of personality permutations and combinations to the table. No wonder so many of us struggle to get people management right.

However, when it comes to being a manager of people and there is a job that needs to be done and common goals that need to be achieved, those intricacies need to be acknowledged. When people come to work they do not leave their personality at the front door; people bring their whole selves to work and as people managers we have a choice. We can either ignore the differences and treat every person with the style of management that best suits us, or we can celebrate those differences and bring them to the fore, realising that we as managers need to adapt to suit every individual.

How can we adapt to be managers who make a difference?

Be ready to learn

Every good manager started out as a bad manager. No ones who does anything well wakes up one morning and finds they’re a master at something. To get good at a craft takes work, and work means making many mistakes and continually starting over with renewed enthusiasm.

Don’t take it personally

As the old saying goes, ‘we can’t please everyone all of the time’. Sometimes you will make a bad judgment, and someone will take a disliking to you. Or, perhaps you, or them, is having a bad day. We have to accept that sometimes we make bad decisions, and they can affect those around us. Take it as a valuable lesson and try another approach.

Celebrate differences

Work with people to find out what they are good at, what they want from their role and career and how you can help them to achieve it. Support your team members on their journey to greatness!

Don’t expect to be a master immediately

“Often people managers become such when they have reached the top of their field technically. This isn’t always the best strategy because someone who is a great technical expert does not necessarily have the skills required to be a great people manager.”

Be aware of your limitations and the skills you need to learn to be great at your new role. Give yourself time and find a mentor to help you on your journey.

Being a people manager means being selfless

When you become a people manager, your goal is less about being a technical expert and more about helping others to become technical experts. As a people manager, in many ways you are required to relinquish some of your technical status to teach others your craft. Good people managers slow down and wait for others and support them through the learning curve.

Be patient

Being a people manager takes a whole new set of skills, and these skills take time, effort and oodles of self-awareness to build. The first step on the journey is making the decision that you want to be as good at the different skills of people management as you are at your technical subject. Once you have decided to master your new craft, the rest is as challenging as it was to be the go-to person in your chosen field.

Remember that even the good managers get it wrong sometimes. But, be humble; admit you made a mistake and work to resolve the issue. People will appreciate your humility and will trust you more for being open with them.

Final thoughts

Being a people manager is not an easy task but with time and effort it’s possible to create great relationships with the people in your teams. The quality of the relationships you create is in your hands!


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