wikiHow to Manage People

Managing people is much more of an art than it is a science. There is no secret formula or set of rules to follow. Like any true art it takes personal style and a relentless commitment to developing that art.


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    Rid your mind of the word “manager” and replace it with “leader”. Leaders don’t require titles or promotions, they are people that inspire and motivate without regard to the setting or the team.
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    Keep a good sense of humor. It makes you approachable and it helps you maintain perspective. Don't take yourself too seriously. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time.
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    Remember that your direct reports are people. They are not resources and they are not human capitol. They are people with families, feelings, and problems. It is not possible to separate work from home life. Be aware that people have personal lives and do the best you can to be sensitive to them. Treat everyone as your equal regardless of their title or position. Remember to smile a lot and always maintain a pleasant demeanor.
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    Know your strengths and weakness. Know the strengths of your team as well as the weakness and allow for improvement.
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    Have a clear plan of what needs to be done. “By failing to plan you plan to fail.” Set long and short term goals.
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    Be decisive. When asked for your opinion, you should have it well thought out and present it persuasively. You should not waffle or stall. For big decisions, set a deadline, and have the decision by that time. If someone offers an argument that convinces you to change a decision, acknowledge it and embrace the new idea completely.
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    Communicate your expectations. Put them in writing whenever possible. Solicit feedback from the people you are leading. Know what they expect from you. Address any discrepancies immediately and clearly.
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    Have a clear understanding in your own mind of things that you can change and the things that you cannot. Simply accept the things you cannot change and do not apply any energy to them what-so-ever. Then, focus all of your efforts on the things you can change. Action oriented people are always sought after and successful.
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    Remember that different things motivate different people and that people will do what they have incentive to do. It is your job to make sure that their incentives match your goals. For example, if you pay a bonus for people to produce a higher number of pieces, don’t be surprised if quality starts to suffer in favor of volume.
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    Maintain the confidence of everyone in the organization. Managers frequently have access to more information than other employees. It is imperative that you never betray the confidence of the company, your manager, your peers, or your employees. Be sure that people can confide in you.
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    Be Consistent. Your actions and reactions must be consistent. You don’t want to be the type of manager that everyone asks what kind of mood you are in before they approach you with an issue.
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    Being flexible is very important and it does not conflict with being consistent. You must remain flexible to change directions, change rules, and change resources to remain competitive.
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    Focus only on solutions and not on problems. People gravitate toward solutions oriented individuals.
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    Hire slowly and fire quickly. Take your time hiring good quality people. Have several people interview and do thorough background checking. But, when you have a disruptive personality or person who fails to perform you need to take all steps to get rid of them as quickly as possible.


  • Address issues directly. Don’t become a policy manager. This happens when you have one person on your team who sends more personal emails than they do work emails so you create a department policy that you cannot use work computers for personal email. Everyone gets punished for one person’s abuse. Instead, address the issue directly with the person who is abusing the privilege. Let them know they are abusing the privilege and if it doesn’t stop immediately disciplinary action will be taken.
  • When confronting someone, be sure to focus only on their actions. Typically when someone is confronted they will react as though it is a personal attack. By focusing on the inappropriate action it will help you keep the conversation more professional
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Every time you or your people fail it just means you have discovered one more thing that doesn’t work. It means that you are one step closer to something that will work.
  • Always remember the rules of goal setting. Goals need to be S.M.A.R.T.E.R: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, Ethical, and Relevant.
  • Never tell someone that something is impossible. Anything is possible given enough time and resources. You should always answer, “These things would have to happen, and it will take this long and cost this much”.


  • Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. You will eventually make them as well. When you do, admit it and learn from it. Making mistakes is always acceptable. Repeating them is not.
  • Remember that you will never control people or events. In fact the only thing in your life that you control is your own actions. Use your actions to motivate and to inspire. Don’t waste your time trying to control people. It cannot be done.
  • Being aware that people have personal lives does not mean you should ever get involved with their personal lives. Focus on your business relationship while keeping in mind that people have personal lives to attend to is your best bet. Avoid giving advice about personal and relationship issues.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring