Celebrating Today as a Boss: How to improve your people management skills

October 16, 2018
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improving people management skills like a boss

While National Boss Day is usually an occasion for employees to celebrate the managers and business owners in their lives, the day actually presents bosses with a unique opportunity: the ability to celebrate National Boss Day by improving their people management skills. What better way to spend a day dedicated to bosses than by actively becoming a better boss?

If you’re already exercising every tip and trick you know to be the best boss you can be (awesome!), here are a few more leadership ideas to throw into the mix.

Remember that people management is different from work management

Sometimes people become managers because they’re good at their jobs, not because they’re good at managing people. If you find yourself struggling to connect and guide your employees, it’s important to note that a new top priority for you should be mentoring, which can be entirely different from excelling at the other aspects of your job. The first step in being a good boss is taking your responsibility for the success of the people on your team and making it a core aspect of your day to day work. 

A great place to start is asking your employees what they need from you in terms of guidance, structure, communication, etc. Stay patient and remember that they may still be learning; if they are making mistakes, it’s not necessarily because they have poor attention to detail or they are lacking a good work ethic.

As a good manager, it might be helpful to learn about the fundamental attribution error. This error refers to the natural psychological tendency to blame others unfairly. If you make a mistake, you are aware of all the environmental challenges in your way and you know it’s not entirely your fault. However, if someone else makes a mistake, we sometimes fail to take into account their situations and instead simply label them as lazy, unintelligent, or careless. Don’t forget that they are people first, not just workers, and they will thank you for it.

Always keep communication open

Think back to the best boss you’ve ever had. Chances are part of the reason you enjoyed working for them was because he or she was easy to communicate with and stayed relatively transparent with you. If you don’t feel like you can talk to the people above you, or that they don’t really take you seriously when you do, the respect you have for a boss or manager starts to atrophy. This treatment can manifest in harmful micromanagement or in the dismissive treatment of employees. And when employees start to feel that they aren’t contributing or taken seriously, their work ethic might atrophy as well. 

Most people, especially younger generations entering the workforce, want to know they are valued and playing an important role in the company. Listening to your employees’ feedback, concerns, and ideas is an easy way to let workers know that they matter. Perhaps their feedback and ideas aren’t realistic yet, but if well delivered, even critical feedback can help them grow in their roles. Just make sure it’s not delivered in an abrasive fashion.

Sharpening your leadership skills

Whether that’s reading the literature on the subject, attending seminars, or taking training courses, do whatever makes the most sense to you in order to improve your leadership skills. Just because you started a company doesn’t mean that you’re naturally equipped with the hard and soft skills necessary for people management. The employees you are managing might not have the same career goals you do; it might be advantageous to become more familiar with the field in its entirety to help your employees succeed.

Find a management mentor

Whether it’s within your company or external, finding someone who has been in your shoes before is a great resource to have in your back pocket when things get tough. If you find yourself in a sticky management situation, one of the best things you can do is talk it through with someone who knows exactly what you’re going through and who might have some pretty useful advice to help you out. 

Understand your employees’ individual needs and motivations

While it can be tempting to treat everyone similarly, some workers prefer different types of management styles. A crucial step in people management is knowing the workstyles of those you manage. Some people require more positive reinforcement while others prefer to be as independent as possible. The more you know about them, the better environment you can create for them to thrive.

About

Cinnamon Janzer is a journalist and content writer based in Minneapolis. Her first job was at a buffet in Mandan, North Dakota which was just as lowbrow as it sounds. Read more about her at www.cinnamon-janzer.com.

Category: HR Tips & Trends, Management


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