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As any leader, manager or human resources professional surely knows, managing groups of people is never easy. People are individuals, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, goals, motivations and opinions. Melding that array of individual differences into a coherent, cooperative working group can be very challenging. However, some people in leadership roles seem to be better at managing people than most. These are leaders who have made it a priority to learn how to manage people effectively. So what can you do to improve your people management skills?
Examine your Expectations
Are your expectations too high? Do you see great people management as a means of achieving a workplace environment that is perfectly peaceful and optimally productive every day? If so, it's time to set that fantasy aside and accept the fact that managing people is a complicated task that always comes with difficulties. Even the best people management skills cannot create a workplace utopia, and entertaining the fantasy that it can just leads to unnecessary stress and frustration is quite likely to impair your ability to manage people effectively. Follow these tips for setting expectations:
Decide what you could be doing better
While achieving perfection isn't possible, any leader can find room for improvement. Talk to people – friends, associates, mentors, senior staff and those under your direct management. Evaluating your own strengths and weakness objectively can be very difficult, so input from others is invaluable in compiling an accurate “needs improvement” list. Additionally, just the simple act of listening to that input – especially from the people you're trying to manage – can be the start of better working relationships that make your job easier.
Create an improvement plan
Great leaders are so because they take steps to hone their skills throughout their lives, so take your list of “room for improvement” areas and explore ways to make change happen. Consider taking some professional development courses to improve your management skills, such as conflict management, communication classes or practical leadership classes. These courses can teach you effective leadership strategies for managing difficult people or situations in the workplace, among other valuable skills. Human resources training seminars are another good resource for improving management skills, as are HR courses, many of which have the added benefit of making you eligible for resume-enhancing certifications upon completion. A good, experienced business mentor can also be a great resource to help you brush up on your skills.
While taking these steps may sound like a big investment of time, effort and money, it is important to realize that your people are your company's biggest asset. Learning how to relate to them and manage them more effectively can do great things for productivity and morale, creating a workplace environment that is both more pleasant and more efficient. Going the extra mile will also pay off for you in terms of your professional reputation, which can open the door to bigger, better career opportunities.
The Business offerings through Bryant & Stratton College's Continuing Education department lays the framework for success in the business field thanks to programs that focus on accounting and human resource management.