5 keys to effective people management

Being an effective manager takes work. If you start out in this role with little or no training, you will find that there is a difference between being a great employee and managing great employees.

Here are five concepts that managers are most likely familiar with but tend to forget: what I call “neglected knowledge”. Let’s review what you already know, so you can put that knowledge into practice immediately.

1. Determine who is who. Know the personalities of your team and who you are. My four playground personalities help you do that. Ask, “What kind of kid was I on the playground? ” The one who:

  • Have you made sure everyone has a turn at bat? The peacemaker.
  • Did everyone line up and count down? The organizer.
  • Did you change the rules halfway through the game? The revolutionary.
  • Did you want to play my way? The steamroller.

Once you’ve determined the personality of your playground, determine who is on your playground. Watch for the signs. People are very clear with body language, use of words, and intentions.

Peacemakers value communication and collaboration. If a staff member’s eyes widen when others are arguing, that’s a clue.

The organizers are structured and decisive. If an employee comes to a meeting with graphics or color coded paper, he is an organizer.

Revolutionaries hate routine and prefer to adapt to the present moment. You will know a revolutionary when you ask, “Where did this come from?”

Road rollers are smart and savvy and can solve complex problems. They take opposing views and float ideas at 30,000 feet.

2. Show respect. Respect starts with the manager. Saying “hello” or “thank you” does a lot of good. To show respect:

  • Brainstorm with the peacemakers.
  • Provide meaningful work with deadlines to organizers.
  • Assign emergency tasks to revolutionaries.
  • Ask their opinion of the road rollers.

3. Face the facts. Not everyone collects facts the way you do, so ask questions, be open to learning, and don’t stop discussions too early. When you think you have the facts, ask again to make sure.

4. Find the humor. Humor should never be personal, but try to find the absurdity that pervades everyone’s workspace and lighten the mood. Humor helps employees relate to you and builds camaraderie on difficult tasks.

5. Put it all together. Managers are paid to do the job. If something is wrong with your plan, don’t immediately jump to Plan B. Take advantage of personalities and how each approaches an issue.

Understanding your employees and empowering them to tackle their jobs in a way that’s right for them will get rid of first-time manager nervousness and help you grow into a confident, seasoned professional.

The author is president of KGWorks, a Washington, DC-based management consulting firm, and author of Whoops! I am the manager! Go past “What should I do now ?!” in 5 easy steps (BookSurge Publishing, 2009). She can be reached at www.kgworks.com.

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