The 12 Steps to Improving Your People Management Skills

As a manager, it is not easy to manage a group of people. Sometimes you feel like your team is not listening or that you are not doing a good job.

This is an edited version of an article originally appeared on When I work

Here’s a 12-step process to improve your management skills and better manage your team.

Describe your goals

Whether you feel like your leadership strategies aren’t effective or you just want to continually work to improve yourself, it’s important to set an intention and document your goals so you can become a better manager. Make sure you have your goals on paper; Interestingly, those who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them.

Determine where you can improve

We are all different and your weak points will be different from other managers or team members. Once you have defined your goals, you need to determine the areas for improvement. Consider taking a variety of professional assessments and personality tests to gauge where you are at. These 5 leadership personality tests could be a good start.

Talk to your team

Your team has a wealth of information about your leadership performance that can help you improve. These steps can help them help you:

  • Tell your team that you are working on improving your leadership skills.
  • Submit a survey, allowing your team members to remain anonymous. Ask employees how you are doing as a manager, where you could improve yourself, what they like and dislike about your style.
  • Hold one-on-one meetings with your direct reports and ask them clearly how you could be a better manager.

Get organized

One of the reasons leaders are ineffective is that they are everywhere. They don’t have the right software solutions, they’re unsure of their goals, and they struggle to resolve conflicts – good organization can help.

At the start of each month or quarter, describe any disorganized and confusing areas, and develop strategies to improve them. Maybe you need a software solution to help you organize your calendar or a new meeting calendar.

Take a leadership course

Sometimes it’s hard to improve on your own; that’s why classes can help. Look at your local colleges and universities to see if they offer any leadership courses. There are also many online courses that you can take at your own pace.

Dale Carnegie Training offers affordable leadership courses in decision making, critical thinking, how to disagree pleasantly, and how to lead change effectively. Udemy also offers a wide range of online courses, such as their Habits of Highly Effective Leaders.

Read management books

You are faced with the same problems every day, so your state of mind is unlikely to change; books transport you outside of yourself and allow you to look at your situation from new angles.

There are many great books on running a business that are worth reading, but here are a few of your favorites that will get you started on the right foot:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons for Personal Change

Learn to listen

One of the biggest complaints from employees around the world is that they don’t feel heard; they don’t feel like they have the capacity to voice their opinion or make a positive change in the organization. When they express themselves, they feel ignored, which makes them unhappy and demotivated.

There are five aspects to good listening, according to Udemy: receive, understand, remember, evaluate and respond. You need to be able to understand these five steps in order to effectively listen to your employees.

Practice praise and reward

To be a good leader, you need to give your employees feedback, especially praise and rewards. When hiring an employee, be specific. Instead of saying “You are doing a great job,” highlight a specific project and explain why their help was so important. Give it a try “The project for Client ABC was very difficult, but the way you communicated their needs to the whole team was what made it possible for us to get it right. I was really impressed with it. Good work.”

In a study on employee engagement, 72% of survey respondents said that recognizing top performers has a big impact on engagement.

Find a mentor

It can be difficult to accurately assess your own leadership skills; that’s why many people turn to executive coaches, mentors, and others they can trust. Maybe you already have a mentor, or maybe you can turn to someone for an honest assessment of your skills.

Executive coaches are also a great option. Those who specialize in leadership can work with you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, then help you put a plan in place to achieve your goals. Harvard business review offers executive coaches and gives great insight into how to find the one that’s best for you and your organization.

Learn to communicate effectively

Effective communication is one of the most important parts of leadership, and different team members will respond to different styles. Work psychologists have defined four styles of communication that we all fall into. By reading and understanding these four styles, you will be better able to communicate with those you work with.

  • Thinkers – Thinkers need time to process and think before they respond. They work slowly, deliberately and want to make sure everything is okay.
  • Socializers – Socializers thrive when chatting with others and gain energy from their coworkers. Socializers work fast, have great ideas, and process information very quickly.
  • Directors – Directors are known to get things done quickly and efficiently. They deal with things quickly, make quick decisions, and love research and proven facts.
  • Relationists – Relationships are relationship-oriented and enjoy working with others. Unlike the socializer, they move at a slower and calmer pace.

Be transparent

Companies are starting to embrace transparency in the workplace. As a leader, you need to embrace it with your staff. Today, around 25% of employers do not trust their employer, according to the American Psychological Association. This is bad news. Employees who don’t trust their company or boss are unlikely to put themselves at risk for their business, but it can be fixed.

The Harvard business review found that 70% of people are more engaged if top management keeps them informed of what’s going on across the company. As a leader, you are in a great position – you can be transparent with employees and let them know what’s going on. In turn, they will be more engaged and see you as a better leader.

Create a feedback system

It’s great that you have invested so much in becoming a better leader, but you must continually look back to your employees to find out how you are doing. Set up a feedback system, so your employees always feel like they can speak up when something goes wrong. For example, many companies offer performance reviews on a quarterly basis, but these reviews should also allow employees to make suggestions to their managers.

Managing people is not easy, which is why many leaders spend a lot of time investing in their skills. If you follow these 12 steps, you are sure to improve your people management skills. In doing so, you will become the kind of leader you want to be – the one who inspires, ignites, and builds your team.

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