What are the key people management skills?

Author avatarLiz Makin ·Sep 24, 2023

People management is the process of guiding, motivating, managing and leading others to achieve the organisation strategy, goals and objectives. This involves leading and motivating people, performance management and good communication and relationship skills. 

People management is one of the most complex elements of being a manager or leader and one of the most time consuming, as you are dealing with all the nuances of human behaviour at an individual and team level. The challenge is not only to ensure the work is completed but to encourage, empower, motivate and support your team of people to perform at their best.


So, what are the key people management skills that you need to succeed as a people manager?

Communication & relationships skills. One of the most critical areas of people management is the art of communication and building relationships. Communicating effectively includes areas such as active listening, building rapport, giving people your time, understanding the other person’s perspective and handling a wide variety of conversations. You then need to use these skills to building strong relationships with individuals, your team and others in the organisation.

Managing individuals & performance. As a people manager, you need to be able to effectively manage individuals and their performance. This involves clarifying roles and responsibilities, providing training and support, setting and agreeing clear goals and objectives, effective planning, one to one meetings, providing feedback, managing performance and empowering your team through coaching and mentoring.

Managing & motivating your team. You can be good at managing individuals, but this will not necessarily result in good team management. This includes, at a team level, areas such as setting clear goals and plans, reviewing progress and performance, learning and development, coaching and mentoring, individual and group dynamics, developing trust and teamwork and proactively managing the team.

Managing remote workers. Given the increase in home and hybrid working in recent years additional people management skills are required for this changing environment such as structured daily check-ins, setting boundaries and expectations and offering encouragement and emotional support.

Running effective meetings. Running effective meetings is a key part of a people manager’s role. An effective meeting brings a selected group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for open discussion, and delivers a tangible result which is then shared with others whose work may be impacted. The tangible result may be a decision, a plan, a list of ideas to pursue or a shared understanding of the work ahead.

Delegating & outsourcing. Delegation and outsourcing involve giving someone else the responsibility and authority to do something that you normally do and holding them accountable for doing it. An effective people manager understands how to delegate, develop, empower and encourage accountability in others.

Conflict management. Conflict management can be one of the most challenging parts of a people manager’s role. People do not always get on together, can get emotional and disagreements can arise between team members or between people in and outside your team. 

Managing difficult people. As a people manager, it is very likely that you will encounter some difficult people to manage. These are individuals who exhibit behaviour that makes it difficult to work with them. Understanding how to handle these individuals is therefore an important people management skill.

Managing up & across. In thinking about people management skills, not only is this about managing individuals and teams, it is also about managing up and across the organisation. Communication and building relationships are important here, alongside the ability to network, collaborate, gain support and manage across, up and outside the organisation.

Self-management. You cannot manage other people effectively if you are not managing yourself. This includes areas such as being confident and assertive, managing your emotions, taking responsibility and being accountable, problem solving and decision making and asking for help and support.

Which people management skills do you have and which do you need to learn more about?


How to find out more?

We have a people management course on Learn Formula and CPD Formula, that covers the key people management skills in depth which you may like to consider - ‘People management skills for life & work’.

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