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How to master the art of managing people 28/04/2011

Are you a good manager? How can you cultivate and maintain an effective relationship with your staff to ensure you get the best out of them at all times?

How to master the art of managing people

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  1. Are you a good manager?
  2. Adopt a people-based culture
  3. Be a leader, not a manager
  4. Encourage risk taking and innovation
  5. Strectch and challenge

Are you a good manager?

According to recent research, CEOs have cited high quality staff as the top factor that has contributed most to the growth of their company. Interestingly, finding, hiring and retaining qualified employees have also become one of their biggest operational challenges in managing their company’s rapid growth.

One of the top reasons people usually give for leaving their job is more often than not, their immediate superior or management. Managing people should no longer be simply viewed as just a responsibility, but an extremely important skill that managers should constantly hone and improve to deal with the diverse personalities and cultures in a team or company.

Compound that with an acute global shortage talent across all industries, it has become more critical that business managers know exactly what energises and motivates their staff in order to keep its invaluable human capital within the organisation.  

Here are some management insights on how managers can effectively get the most out of their staff, and motivate them to put in their best not just for a day - but always.

Adopt a people-based culture

There is a reason why some of the world’s top organisations attribute their success to their people. By treating their employees as the most valuable asset of the company, they achieved impressive results and became more competitive across many fronts.

Such companies tend to create a favourable brand perception (internally and externally) by treating their staff right, and naturally become desired employers to work for. A people-focused culture energises the employees, and inspires them to achieve more than what they think is possible, especially if they know they are part of the company’s growth and success.

Employees enjoy coming to work where their contributions are valued, and morale is increased when they are given more responsibility, autonomy and freedom. They are more likely to articulate the company’s shared vision and bring their best ideas to work.

Empowering staff also gives them a sense of responsibility. It motivates them to be more independent and do what needs to be done without being told, and makes them feel they have a significant impact on their work.

Be a leader, not a manager

Many business managers are often trapped in the daily operations of running their companies or assigned divisions. The point is, micro-managing all aspects of a business would probably make you a strong manager, but not a great leader. In today’s world, to remain competitive and stay ahead of the game, the organisation requires inspiring leaders who can inject enthusiasm into the work environment and make employees excited about their job, as opposed to having staff simply executing orders issued by a conservative and rigid management who depress and control.

A great business leader moves people to extraordinary performance and is able to communicate his vision to his staff and get their buy in. Genuine leadership cleverly uses talents to bring about real and limitless productivity, as employees begin to emulate and internalise their leaders’ positive attitude and approach to work, especially when these leaders support them wholeheartedly in whatever they do.

To bring out the best in people, never lead by intimidation or by your own corporate standards. It is more important that you earn the trust, respect and consideration of your people so that they are encouraged to put in exceptional performance, for you and the company. People do what they have to do for a manager, but they will offer their very best for a great leader.

Encourage risk taking and innovation

When a company becomes too entrenched in rules, regulations, guidelines and policies, it kills creativity and innovation within the workplace. Employees will clock in their hours daily and perform their assigned duties as contracted, with hardly any interest in achieving the company’s mission, vision and goals. An organisation that does not challenge its people to think, create, innovate and contribute will only give rise to more people with a 'why rock the boat' mentality.

Build a culture that encourages and empowers people to take certain level of risks. With the knowledge that mistakes are permissible, employees would be more open and proactive in sharing their thoughts, ideas and opinions on how to make things better. Many innovative products and ideas in the world such as sticky notepads, white-outs and band-aids are the brainchild of ordinary people and staff in the company, giving those organisations a significant competitive advantage within their industry. A relentless focus on continued innovation, entrepreneurial creativity and experimentation would allow employees to contribute more value to the organisation than just their time at work.

Employees are undoubtedly the best creative resource for innovative ideas and solutions as they are closest to the business, its customers and processes. The best way to tap into that exceptional pool of resource is to instill confidence by showing trust and celebrating those who are willing to take risk, and supporting those who try and fail. The ability to recognise, nurture and harness intellectual capital for the benefit of the organisation will lie on the kind of corporate culture you have created for your people.

Strectch and challenge

Constantly challenge your staff by setting and exacting the highest standards, spurring them on to achieve what are seemingly impossible targets. By ensuring that everyone is working to meet these standards, you are engendering enthusiasm among the workforce and generating a competitive spirit within the company. When a company involves and ignites its people to make such stretch targets a reality, they get excited about the work and are eager to achieve the vision by maximising their own capabilities. In the process, they may even surpass themselves and end up doing much much better than they originally thought they could do.

Keep up the energy of the organisation and recruit people who share the same kind of passion for the work you do. Live the action every day and inject fun, challenges and opportunities into your business so that employees look forward to coming to work and contributing their best to the company.

Sally Raj, country manager, Robert Walters Asia

Sally Raj, country manager, Robert Walters Asia

Sally Raj is country manager for Robert Walters Malaysia.