What is an organisation? An institution? A business or a charity? Is it a building, a set of policy documents and strategy papers, a niche in the market or a set of values? It is a group of people. In the 21st century, machines do the doing. People do the creative stuff. Your people define your identity and your place in the world. Everything else is a product of your people.
In a technology driven world we can easily get focussed on the every more impressive capacity of our machines but we should be concentrating on our highest value asset – our people. This is why people management is the most important of all management skills. As a manager you should prioritise the whole process of managing your staff above all else. Manage them well and your enterprise will thrive. They will sort out all the other things managers often become bedraggled with.
How to manage people well
Employ managers who have excellent social skills, are genuine, honest and interested in people. They need to be able to recognise and appreciate talents that they themselves may not possess. Put time and effort into the entire staffing process. From team structure, job definition and person specification to recruitment. Induct your staff and support their development throughout their time with you. Give them challenges that stretch them but are within their potential. Support them when it is time for them to move on. The best managers act as tutors and mentors to their staff. Taking responsibility for projects while freeing your workers to contribute their ideas and creativity. Most importantly spend 98% of your time as a manager praising and encouraging versus 2% correcting and criticising your people. Do not ask them to do anything you would not do yourself and lead by example. Stick up for your team, celebrate their achievements and promote their value to the rest of the organisation.
Listen to your staff, trust them, and focus your energy as their manager on addressing the challenges to greater performance. If it is lack of time, lack of resources, lack of skills, lack of people your staff will bring these issues to you. As a manager it is your job to find solutions to these problems. Your solutions must be equal to the scale of the problems. If you need ten more people to get your project finished on time and you only provide one you are not doing your job as a manager. If you negotiate a weeks extension to the project and you need 10 you are not doing your job as a manager. The same is true of resources or budgets. You need to be a realist and willing to bring your honest appraisal of requirements up the chain of command. This is where you need courage to be an effective manager.
Stressed people are unproductive whilst a harmonious environment is a hotbed of creativity and productiveness.
These things are not easy but if you follow this approach you will be surprised by the creativity of your staff and the growing capability of your organisation.
By Martin Sepion