The Definitive Guide to Amazing People Management Skills

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The Definitive Guide to Amazing People Management Skills
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The Definitive Guide to Amazing People Management Skills

How to be a manager is the same question as how to improve people management. A manager’s job is just that, to manage, but it’s also to support, cheer, organize, and prioritize. Every manager needs to have good people management skills and those who don’t often get in the way of their own departments’ progress.

You want to be a good manager, who has the best interests of both business and personnel in mind. A manager has to wear many hats and sometimes you may not have the training or soft skills needed to do everything. Some are naturally very good at people management, it’s second nature to them. Even so, it’s always a good idea to look into how to improve people management skills.

If you’re a newly promoted manager or you think your people management skills need a polish, then this is the article for you. We’ll dive into exactly what people management skills are and how you can put them into practice with your team.

What Are People Management Skills

What Are People Management Skills?

People management is a collection of skills and techniques managers can use to better oversee their department and employees. They come in handy for retaining talent, dealing with insubordination, optimization, motivation, and providing personal and professional support to your team.

Excellent managers can use their people management skills to boost the performance of their employees, keep their people happy and engaged, and deliver real results for the business. There are some people who have soft skills in people management (it’s their nature, it hasn’t been learned) but there are plenty of ways to develop hard skills to better manage your staff.

Let’s take a look at a few key examples of when good people management skills come in handy:

  • Delegation. Managers need to delegate work in a fair and considered manner. There is a good opportunity to pair people with tasks that increase their knowledge and experience. Delegating work can increase the bond between manager and employee and build trust within the team.
  • Conflict resolution. Sometimes disagreements break out between employees and you’ll need to intervene to get people focused again. It can happen at any time, often without any warning at all. Managers need to control the situation and promote respect and collaboration between employees.
  • Welcoming new recruits. Managers should make themselves visible and available to new recruits. Starting a new job can be a scary experience and people often look to their superiors to lead by example. The first time your people management skills come into play is when a new starter steps foot in the building. Make them feel like part of the team.
  • Deadlines. Communicating deadlines to your team may seem obvious but if it’s not done correctly it can cause major disruption to project development. A good manager sets reasonable deadlines and communicates this clearly with their staff.
  • Training. Managers need to get hands-on with training as they’re ultimately responsible for the performance of their team. Great managers can inspire their team and give them all the knowledge needed to do their job. It doesn’t stop there, you’ll need to be on hand to provide refreshers, upskill, and answer any questions your people have.

How to Improve People Management Skills for Managers

How to Improve People Management Skills for Managers

Now you know how people management skills come into play at work and how you can make sure you’re delivering for the business and the people on your team. Learning best practices for people management is pretty simple, people have been writing and talking about this for as long as businesses have existed.

Whatever your preferred medium for learning is, you’ll be able to find plenty of content that covers people management. From books to podcasts to self-paced courses, the amount of theory surrounding people management is endless. Stick with us though, as we’ll break down some of the best ways to develop amazing people management skills.

Read books on management

Books on management styles, mindsets, and productivity are all great for developing people management skills. You’ll be introduced to new ways of thinking and methods for handling situations at work.

Written by experts, books are the perfect way to increase your personal knowledge and learn techniques for people management. Here are some books to get you started:

  1. Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
  2. Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last
  3. Julie Zhuo – The Making of a Manager

Listen to podcasts on management

If books aren’t your style, the rise of podcasting has led to many experts giving away their knowledge for free through audio. Podcasts are the perfect way to get an up-close-and-personal experience with leaders.

There are different types to suit your needs. Interview style podcasts have a new guest each week which gives you access to many different voices. Others might take a more personal one-on-one approach, great for a manager seeking out a mentor. Here are some of the best podcasts to get you started:

  1. The $100 MBA
  2. The LEADx Show
  3. Happiness at Work

Watch videos on management

Another medium for you to learn from is video, perfect for people who prefer visual stimuli while learning. Youtube is home to many experts who can teach you everything they know about people management, and they do it for free.

You can find great mentors on Youtube, many of whom are multi-disciplined and also share books, courses, and lectures on people management. However, Youtube is a great platform to really connect with experts. Here are some of the best Youtube channels to get you started:

  1. Marie Forleo
  2. TED
  3. Tai Lopez

Develop active listening skills

Develop active listening skills

Active listening is a vital skill that all managers should learn unless they want to alienate their employees. Simply put, active listening means attentively hearing what someone is saying and responding in kind. You should be able to reflect and draw on this information later.

Make all criticism constructive

There are times when you need to critique someone’s output, perhaps they have produced work that clearly falls below acceptable standards. When this happens you need to be careful how you phrase things and avoid making this conflict personal. Only refer to the task at hand and not their personal traits. Aim to provide constructive advice that helps to build them up rather than tearing someone down.

Practice negative feedforward

One of the best ways to frame criticism is as negative feedforward. Usually, when criticizing, people will focus on past behaviors and offer feedback. This often doesn’t serve any purpose other than belittling someone. Instead, reframe things as feedforward and talk about how to do a better job in the future.

Engage in a course

One method of fast-tracking your education is to engage in a people management skills for managers course. You can find self-paced courses all over the web on websites like Skillshare and Udemy. Alternatively, you may be able to find a more traditional course at a college near you.

Work on your communication skills

Work on your communication skills

How you communicate with your staff can set the tone for the entire department. A manager with a bad attitude is going to infect their employees and this can ultimately stall productivity. Work on being a good communicator who promotes a positive and healthy atmosphere.

Communication is a soft skill which means that it may not come naturally to everyone. While your nature can affect things, there are ways to learn better communication skills such as learning about non-verbal communication. You should also consider how your written communication may be perceived by members of staff.

Make room for feedback

You should encourage feedback from your staff and be open to anything they have to say. Good ideas can go completely missed when employees don’t feel like their managers will be receptive to them. If you can make time for feedback, you might find new ways to save time and money. When this happens, make sure the right person receives praise from upper management.

Develop a reward system

Rewarding your people for a job well done is an excellent way to show your appreciation for their hard work. It can be as simple as dishing out praise when someone goes above and beyond. Alternatively, you may want to put in place a reward system, for example, if someone saves the company money, they could receive a portion of that as a bonus.

Mentor your people

Be a mentor to your staff, teach them what they need to know and then some. Be the kind of manager that leads by example. Approach every interaction with your staff as a two-way conversation. Treat them like real people instead of cogs in a machine. Be kind and fair in your dealings and encourage an exchange of ideas.

You should always be on the lookout for future leaders to take under your wing. When promotion opportunities arise, you can look at hiring from within, and if you can train your people to be the best they can be you can decrease employee turnover. People like to feel valued at work and mentor relationships can help retain skilled people.

Find yourself a mentor

Get yourself a mentor who can teach you as well. We spoke about how to find excellent mentors through podcasts and Youtube earlier, pick someone who resonates with you. Depending on your station at work, you could also seek out a mentor who holds a higher position than you. Observe how they treat staff and take notes on what they do well.

Choose your mentor carefully, pick someone who has a management style you’d like to emulate. Find someone who gets great results and is respected by their employees. If you look outside of work for a mentor, consider reaching out to an executive coach who will work with you to set goals and identify your weaknesses.

Bond with your team

Bond with your team

You should try to bond with your team on a personal level as well as a professional one. It’s not necessary to totally ingratiate yourself in their lives, but get to know them. Learn about their outside interests and engage with them. People are more than just their job and acknowledging this can create a wonderful atmosphere at work.

Be an organizational expert

Bad leaders are messy and disorganized which affects their performance and ability to effectively lead their team. When you’re disorganized this can bleed into your team and everyone can start picking up bad habits. Instead, you should try to stay as organized as possible by reviewing what’s not working every month or so.

Invest in ways to automate certain tasks, and use software to keep track of your to-do list. Host performance reviews and monthly check-ins to keep on top of your people and let them know you’re here to help.

Be patient with your people

Patience is a virtue, as they say. It’s never more true than when you are a manager dealing with a large team. Good managers can exercise an extreme amount of patience when their limits are being tested. You will need patience when you are dealing with conflicts, training new staff, or trying to solve problems.

A good manager who treats their employees with kindness and respect may find that people feel comfortable seeking further clarification from them. While it is important to nurture relationships in this way, your patience may start to wear thin. However, this is all in service of creating good work.


It might come naturally to you, or it could be something you have to work really hard for. However, gaining good people management skills will only make you a better and more compassionate manager. Since there are unlimited resources available about people management, digest as much as you can.

If something is not working for you, switch mentors or try a new style of management that better aligns with your nature. Aim to get the most out of your staff by creating a workplace that thrives on kindness, respect, and creativity.

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