How to Manage People

by Rachel Anevski, CEO, Matters of Management, LLC.  – April 27, 2018
How to Manage People

Would you believe that there are over 450 million results on “how to manage people” using Google search? Let’s put that into perspective: there were only 7 million results about Kim Kardashian, 46 million about the Bible and 150 mil­lion about “how to lose weight.” Hence, managing people would appear a rather important query. 

For some professionals, it is the inherent ability to read others and leverage their strengths and weaknesses that makes managing people easy for them. But for many others, it is an unknown abyss, and managers often rely on textbooks, training and even executive coaches to help them gain mastery over managing others. 

There are three key steps to effectively managing people: 

  • Know yourself. 
  • Seek to understand your people.
  • Flex your style to accommodate them. 

Know Yourself

Managing others lies in the deeper un­derstanding of oneself and how one can relate to others in a way to motivate them towards efficiency and proficiency. In other words, get to know your style first then seek to understand others. It is in the recognition of behaviors that help make managing others a breeze. You can learn your style by taking a management behav­ioral profile survey such as DiSC profile; this is a tool that has been known to deci­pher personality traits and teach you more in-depth about how to communicate with others who are like you and those who are not. It can alert you to your behaviorisms that are perhaps of a dominant or detailed nature which may clash with a subordinate who requires a more sensitive approach or an approach that is bottom-line oriented. 

Psychologists have been investigating personality traits since the 1930s, and empathy and delegation still rise to the top as key attributes for successful managers. Understanding how confidently you make decisions, how you interact with others, the pace in which you work and how frequently you follow rules are all pillars to understanding yourself in a way that supports your role in managing others. If you dare, you can go one step further and ask your peers to evaluate you based on your assumption of your own behavior. An exercise that supports this is known as the Jahari Window. In completing the Jahari Window, you can gain a bird’s eye view into how well you know yourself by compar­ing your thoughts about who you are to how people who interact with you daily perceive your behaviors. If you embark on a Jahari Window exercise, prepare yourself to learn from the results which may not always be to your liking. 

Seek to Understand Your People 

Once you have a strong understanding of your own behaviors and perhaps how your style changes when under work stressors, you can pursue understanding the mem­bers of your team. Not everyone is a peo­ple watcher, but the best managers know their people’s styles, from the timeliness of their morning arrival, to how they work to the deadline, to the way in which they receive communication, to how they inter­act with others. Inventory your people not only by their job responsibilities but also by their approach to matters of their job. There are generally four types of work­place behaviors: the captain, the chatty Cathy, the cheerleader and the cop. 

The captain will need to be given swift directive. The chatty Cathy needs to first build relationships before they can get to work. These staff need to be reminded how to work alone. The cheerleader wants to be a valued member of the squad so it’s up to you to include them in opportunities. The cop wants all the rules and all the details so that they can investigate the right way to complete a project. 

Next, balance your team. If you have a team full of chatty Cathys, no work will ever be done. A team of all cops will come to the right answer but it may take them significant time to achieve it. A team heavily staffed with captains will assure lots of conflict leaving no one to com­plete the work. And finally, a team full of cheerleaders will be kind and even keeled, but unfortunately few decisions will be executed, as a team full of cheerleaders requires a captain. 

Flex Your Style 

Recognizing who you are and having the ability to flex your approach to guide your staff is key. Though there is somewhere between a million and a billion approaches to how to manage people, at the end of the day it’s about human interaction and how we all get along to accomplish a common goal. Seek first to understand yourself, guided by your approach to understanding others and together the two shall meet and excel in the workplace. Kumbaya. 

Rachel L. Anevski

Rachel L. Anevski

Rachel Anevski, MAOB, PHR, SHRM-CP, is the founder and CEO of Matters of Management, LLC, a consulting and talent acquisition firm specializing in professional services. Matters of Management is an NJCPA business services provider.

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This article appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.