How do I learn how to manage people? This was a question posed this morning, and it is a good question. Managing people can seem like such a huge area to get to grips with. It can seem complex, with multiple pieces of legislation, and acronyms thrown around like confetti, it can all be quite confusing and overwhelming.
So, where to start? I think there are three aspects to learning how to manage people well:
Firstly, it is about learning the basics. What legislation applies to you (and importably, why does it apply)? What impact does this have on your business and your people? For example, this might mean that you learn whether you are covered by State or Federal workplace relations legislation. You would find out about the National Employment Standards that apply to all employees. You would find out whether there is an award that applies to your people. You would find out about other legislation that covers health and safety and discrimination etc.
There are some excellent (and free) resources that can provide you this information.
By understanding this information, you will know how much you have to pay your people, what shifts and rosters you can create for them, and what conditions apply to them. You will also understand your obligations and responsibilities, and your employee’s obligations and responsibilities to you and your organisation.
What does good look like?
Once you know the framework that you are working within, you can consider the “how” you go about managing people. This is very much about considering both management and leadership approaches. So, for example: how will you ensure that your people know what to do on a day by day basis and how to do it? How will you keep them informed on what is happening in the business and how it affects them? How will you inspire and motivate them to bring their best to work every day?
There are lots of different aspects to this. So it is worth taking the time to think about what a manager actually does in relation to their people, and what a leader does.
This aspect can often take some time to learn, so you shouldn’t feel like it is something that is done overnight. There are multiple aspects to it. But again, there are plenty of great free resources available for you to learn from. There are also some excellent books such as From Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Find your style
The final aspect of learning how to manage people well is to find your style. The first two components will give you the practical theory that you need and the knowledge that you require; but the only way to successfully manage people is to give it a go. You will probably find that this means trying different approaches as you find one that works for you. It will almost definitely mean that you need to practice some things over and over again to feel comfortable with them (such as giving feedback).
Once again, you can learn and hone your style and approach by reading what others say and do and by observing those around you (what works and what doesn’t)? And importantly, why do some approaches work and others not work? Seek out a mentor, who can challenge you to take the next steps with your style. And consider whether a coach would help you work through the every day “how” of managing your people.
Managing people well is a life long skill, and one that takes time and application. But if you think of it in layers, like I have laid out above, then it becomes less overwhelming and more about simply learning, applying and then practicing. Some things will work, others won’t. There will be examples of great success, and times when you feel as though you have failed. Like anything though, the more you know, the more often you try, the more you practice, the better you become. This is a skill like any other skill -it can be learned. And it can be learned by you.
Until next week, happy reading!