You understand that your employees are key to your business success and you know what are the key ingredients to ensure that morale is high and people are loyal. You pay well and your staff benefits are as good, or better, than those offered by your competitors.
But you are still having problems recruiting the right people. Your sickness levels are higher than average, with people constantly taking days off sick. What is more, you are finding it difficult to keep good people once you have managed to recruit them.
Is there anything you can do to improve things?
Managing people, on a day to day basis, is a challenging task which needs a comprehensive set of skills. If your managers do not have the right skills then you are leaving a big part of your business success to chance. This includes you, if you are managing people yourself.
Choosing Your Managers
When we need to set up a management structure, then our first consideration is who should be promoted into a management position. Often the choice falls to the person who is the best performer in the team. This can be a short-sighted way of selecting a manager. Just because someone is good at the job, does not mean they will be good at managing people who do the job. Some people do not have the ability to manage people. Others may not have any desire to do so. There may, of course, be some who want to have the “power” of being a manager, but who have none of the necessary skills..
Skills for Managing People
In order to manage a successful team, managers need to have a variety of skills, and those are not necessarily practical task-related skills. So the best person for a job may not be the best person to manage others doing that job.
In particular, you need to ensure your managers have a range of more human, so-called “soft” skills. This includes things like leadership, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, change management.
Some Key Skills for Managers
You might expect a list of the key skills needed to include some of those in the list below. But others may be more of a surprise. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but covers some of the skills which your people managers need to have.
- Communication Skills. Every manager needs to be able to communicate with their team members. This is more complex in these days of remote working and more diversity in the workplace. Giving and receiving the right messages are both absolutely key to managing a team.
- Emotional Intelligence. This skill is quoted a great deal as a necessity. A quick look on Social Media shows that Emotional Intelligence is a subject for much discussion. So what is it? It is difficult to define, but includes things like: keeping an open mind; being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes; compassion and caring; the ability to engender trust; integrity; honesty; following up on promises; thanking people; engaging with people.
- Change Management. Any workplace is likely to go through change from time to time. Sometimes such changes are brought on by external events – eg. legislation. Or they may come from a changing market or different leadership. Whatever the reason, people can find it extremely difficult to be productive during periods of change and it is essential that managers have skills to be able to support their teams through it.
- Stress Management. The mental health of employees is something which is acknowledged more and more in the workplace and managers need to be able to judge stress levels and likely consequences. They also need to know how to manage employees who have mental (or, indeed, physical) health challenges or issues.
- Conflict Management. A successful manager needs to be able to resolve conflict between team members. There are likely to be occasions when two people have a difference in opinion and the manager needs to be able to resolve that with a fair and transparent approach.
You may wonder why time management is not included in the list above. And, of course, it is a critical skill for any busy manager. But there is also a key role for the Managing Director in this one. You may recruit a new manager, or promote someone into a management role. But often they are then expected to do their “day job” as well as managing a team of people. Managing people is a role in itself.
A manager may be able to oversee one or two people as well as doing other work, but they cannot do a good job of managing a whole team of people, as well as having to meet other work deadlines.
This is another reason why it is not a good idea to promote someone to manager because they are good at the work done by the team. You do not want to lose the skills of a high performing team member. A good manager will spend a large proportion of their time managing people and so cannot do another full-time job as well. If you do promote someone, then you need to ensure at least some of their work is taken from them. This is so they can concentrate of their management responsibilities. You also need to invest in some training for them in those required skills.
If you want high performing teams who are productive, loyal and happy at work – then you need to make sure they are managed properly. And this does not mean micro-management.
To achieve such growth and productivity for your business, then you need to choose and train your managers carefully. This will ensure that they can work with your employees to achieve the best possible results for your business.
If you think this article is useful and you would like more advice on dealing with this – or any other strategic HR issue in your business – please join our mailing list, or contact us for further guidance.