Your employees are one of your company’s most significant assets, and their performance greatly affects your bottom line. However, simply hiring skilled employees isn’t enough; how your business leaders manage these team members can strongly influence your company’s overall performance. Managers and business owners need to understand the principles that underlie people management and develop specific skills to become good managers and ultimately lead their teams and organizations to success.
People management, a subset of human resource management, organizes employees and builds teams to optimize business performance. Successful people management involves hiring and training the right employees, guiding and empowering each employee to reach their maximum potential, effectively communicating across all teams, and directing all team members toward a common goal.
Rather than acting dictatorial, an effective people manager strives to empower their employees, which plays a big role in a business’s bottom line and company culture.
Shelisa Bainbridge, leadership coach and head of human-centered delivery at Agile by Design, recommended reframing people management as team orchestration. This shift in perception can cause managers to focus less on controlling people and more on designing the work environment to lead to successful outcomes for the team and the company.
“When we start thinking about people management in terms of team orchestration, an immediate shift in attitude, value and impact surfaces in the managers who are responsible for the output of that team,” Bainbridge told us.
When a business emphasizes team orchestration, Bainbridge said, they see the approach and attitude of their managers shift in three significant, beneficial ways:
A poorly managed team can hurt multiple aspects of your business. A properly managed team, by contrast, can improve company morale, optimize your production levels and efficiency, and give your company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Companies with low morale and poor engagement often have high employee turnover and burnout rates. However, implementing optimal people management strategies can give your employees a strong sense of ownership over their work and improve their overall job satisfaction.
“Creating a solid environment in the workplace will lead to happier and more productive employees, and that shows in the quality of output in their work,” said Ramesh Ramani, CEO and president of digital learning platform ExpertusONE. “Only when a company truly takes care of its people will it become a success.”
People management involves organizing your team to increase productivity and optimize efficiency. When you have the right employees in place, train your team properly and collaborate with employees to reach their goals, you set your team up for success.
Successful people managers “are focused on helping the team align around a common goal and mission, and are able to help the team isolate, prioritize and focus on high-value work,” Bainbridge said.
Understanding how to orchestrate teams can give small businesses a competitive advantage. Because small businesses often lack the budget or market presence of their larger, corporate counterparts, maximizing a smaller pool of resources is crucial, Bainbridge said. This includes optimizing human capital and prioritizing team orchestration.
There are several qualities an individual should possess to become an effective manager. Joe Mullings, founder and CEO of The Mullings Group, listed integrity, communication, organization and empowerment as the top four people management skills.
Other people management skills include empathy, patience, achievement recognition, relatability, adaptability, conflict resolution and decisiveness. [Read related article: Here’s What Employees Actually Want From a Leader]
Not everyone is a natural-born leader, and that’s OK. People management skills are considered “soft skills” and can be learned and improved upon. You can enhance your people management skills in several easy and organic ways.
Effective communication in business is a two-way street. Just as you want to provide your team with constructive feedback, you should frequently request feedback from your team in return. Ask employees to offer their honest feedback without fear of retaliation.
Bainbridge said asking for and embracing feedback has multiple benefits:
Seek a skilled and experienced coach or mentor who can provide unbiased feedback and guidance. They will point out areas where you need growth, offer experienced advice and insight, and accelerate your development. This person can be within or outside your organization, but your mentor should be someone other than your direct boss.
Everybody, not just managers, should have a growth mindset. To grow, both in business and in your personal life, you acknowledge that you don’t know everything and are willing to learn.
“Having a growth mindset means that you fundamentally believe that everyone has the ability to adapt, learn and grow into a better version of themselves,” Bainbridge said. “This eliminates (or at least controls) the impulse to blame and replaces it with a desire to develop.”
When you have a growth mindset, you set a powerful example for your team. Part of people management is leading by example.
There are many online resources to help people managers develop their leadership skills. These resources can include paid and free options, like people management books, videos, articles, courses, training calls, and coaching lessons.
Consider these companies, which offer training courses in people management:
Effective people management is crucial for creating a positive and productive work environment. Avoiding common people management mistakes can help ensure that your team remains motivated, engaged and committed.
Here are five of the most common people management mistakes to avoid:
Remember that effective people management is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and adaptation. By avoiding these common mistakes and focusing on building strong relationships, fostering growth and creating a positive work culture, you can lead your team to success.
Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.