What Is People Management? Definition, Tips and Skills

Updated 12 September 2023

Effective people management is a necessary quality for current and aspiring leaders who aim to improve workplace communication and prepare employees for success. Examining the skills that people management requires can help you discover your strengths and identify areas for improvement. In this article, we answer the question "what is people management" and how to develop the skills that are vital to quality people management in the workplace.

What is people management?

People management is the process of training, motivating and directing employees to optimise workplace productivity and promote professional growth. Workplace leaders, such as team leads, managers and department heads use people management to oversee workflow and boost employee performance every day. People management is useful in many workplace situations, such as:

Handling interpersonal conflicts

Managers and employees in leadership positions can have an important role in resolving conflicts. Effective people management can help you mediate conflicts between employees in a way that promotes collaboration and respect. Managing interpersonal conflicts is essential for creating a healthy and productive work environment and a happy work culture.

Related: 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace

Leading employee training

As a workplace leader, you may be responsible for onboarding new employees and coaching current employees on updated processes. You can use the elements of people management to provide constructive feedback and mentor employees so they can succeed in their positions. Using people management during training can ensure that the training process functions well, as you can organise the programmes and provide support to the employees in training.

Managing deadlines

Directing employees includes assigning tasks and establishing achievable goals. Effective people management can help you evaluate your team's resources and set realistic deadlines that encourage progress. When a professional is able to motivate their team to meet deadlines, their department can often become more efficient and productive.

Building company culture

Your leadership position may allow you to positively influence your work environment. You can use your people management responsibilities to build rapport with employees. You can also ask your team for feedback on their perspective of the company and then turn that feedback into actionable changes to a company culture that every employee can help develop.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

What is people management BPO?

People management BPO refers to the method some companies use to benefit from the effects of people management. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the practice of hiring external professionals to assist with company goals. This can include consultants, vendors and other professionals. People management BPO allows companies to hire management consultants to assess the company's current status and offer advice on how to improve it. This can include offering training for people management skills, implementing new programmes or performing the process themselves.


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What are 8 human management skills?

Human management skills are the abilities that professionals require to complete people management tasks. People management requires several soft skills, including those that can lead to open and honest communication as well as improved employee experience. Each of these skills can better help you interact with your employees and perform organisational tasks.

Here are eight essential people management skills to incorporate into your workplace:

1. Organisation

Organisation is an important people management skill that allows you to track your team's productivity and provide clear instruction references. Organisation skills can help you and your team manage several tasks at once and understand your work priorities. You may use these skills to organise and regulate your responses to emails, create work schedules and delegate tasks to the appropriate professionals.

2. Motivation

Motivation skills help you stay on task and inspire others to reach their full potential. These skills are very valuable for leaders and people management processes because it allows you to motivate your team to increase their productivity. Professionals with motivation skills may use several methods to inspire their teammates, including leading by example and offering praise, constructive criticism or incentives for other employees' work.

Related: Understanding Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

3. Communication

Written, verbal and nonverbal communication skills are essential for people management as it allows you to give instruction, offer feedback and resolve interpersonal conflict. This skill can be especially helpful in transition periods for your company and during performance reviews. Having strong communication skills allows you to clearly establish your expectations for your team members, which helps them reach their goals.

4. Active listening

Active listening is the practice of listening to the speaker to fully understand their perspective, question or concern before responding. Active listeners remove distractions, maintain eye contact and offer verbal or non-verbal cues to indicate their engagement and understanding. You can use this skill to address the concerns of your team members and respond to their questions. This practice often makes professionals feel supported in their roles, which can lead to increased productivity and work satisfaction.

5. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills are essential for people management as you might be able to address workplace issues. This can include scheduling errors, resource allocation and interpersonal conflicts. Having strong problem-solving skills helps you manage these occurrences and provide effective leadership and insight on how to proceed.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

6. Reliability

Reliability is an important skill for both people management professionals and for those they're leading. When managing a team, it's essential that you provide reliable and stable support. This can include being available for questions, offering consistent feedback and using your communication skills to the best of your ability. It's equally important that you can rely on your co-workers to show up on time and complete their work consistently. This allows your whole team to stay productive and effective.

7. Patience

Being patient is an important skill when it comes to managing professionals. This means staying calm even when stressed or frustrated. To demonstrate your patience, be sure to reassure your team when needed and always respond to employee questions with a polite tone, even when you have already provided resources to help answer their question. You can also use patience when training employees in new processes and when solving problems. When employees can trust their managers to be patient, they're often more likely to ask for clarification to ensure they understand directions and to increase the quality of their work.

8. Flexibility

Knowing when to be flexible and when to be firmer with direct employees is an important aspect of effective people management. You can demonstrate flexibility in your management style by accommodating individual employee needs—such as adjustable schedules or remote work options—and allowing employees to adjust their individual workflow so they can be as productive as possible. You can assess the results of the employee's process to ensure its efficiency and to help them revise the process if it can be optimised.

Related: What Is Workplace Flexibility and How Can It Benefit You?

How to develop people management skills

If you can demonstrate your people management skills, you can become a stronger candidate for future leadership roles. Identifying your strengths and areas for improvement can help you decide which distinct skills to grow. Consider using these strategies to develop specific people management skills:

1. Choose individual skills to focus on

People management is a broad skill set. Select a specific skill from the list above, such as conflict resolution, and learn more about the skill, its benefits and how to apply it in the workplace. Often, you can improve your skill level by assessing your current abilities and dedicating time to advancing certain areas of your work. Having a baseline of what your current ability is can help you set goals, which allows you to plan actionable steps for your improvement.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

2. Enrol in professional development courses

Some companies offer their own management training programmes while others may sponsor employees to take development courses elsewhere. You can find courses online or through an educational institution. These professional development courses often offer certification or other recognition of the achievement, which can help strengthen your resume. If you don't have the time to devote to a professional course, consider listening to a professional speak about the topic; possibly a podcast or search online to find videos taken at professional conferences and events.

3. Find a mentor or business coach

Specialised or targeted attention is a great way to develop people management skills quickly. Mentors and business coaches can give you personalised feedback and specific, actionable strategies. Consider hiring a business coach or finding a mentor within your network to help you set realistic goals and make clear progress.

Read more: How to Find a Mentor: a Step-by-Step Guide with Tips

4. Ask other managers for feedback or advice

Ask your manager or supervisor for advice on how to develop your people management skills and potential leadership opportunities where you can demonstrate and practise those skills. Asking for advice from your managers can be a simple way to understand how you can improve. It also allows you to share your goals with another professional, which can help you feel more accountable for your progress.

Related: Interview Questions About Conflict Resolution (4 Examples)

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