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Do I have what it takes to work with and manage people?

“I used to say that up to the 19th century the most important people were those who had liquid resources, money. In the 20th century world, it was essentially the engineers, but in the 21st century, it is the ones who are able to manage talent. So talent is going to be the driver for the 21st century”  (Ignacio S Galan – Chairman of Iberdrola, Spain)

People Skills Ensure Success

Research conducted by Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University, and the Carnegie Foundation, found that 15% of the reason a person is able to get a job, keep a job, and move ahead in that job, is determined by his or her technical skills and knowledge, regardless of the profession. However, 85% of the reason a person is able to get a job, keep that job, and move ahead in that job, is directly related to people skills. It soon becomes apparent that working with people and managing people, starting with ourselves, must be a high priority if we are going to be successful.

Top Five (5) Skills for 2020

People management has been identified by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of the top 5 skills required by business to be successful.

People Will Get You There

Charan, a Fortune 500 executive coach and Colvin estimate that 70% of CEOs who fail, fail because they do not execute or deliver on the promise – as simple as that.

Charan and Bossidy, however, identified three core processes of execution: (i) The strategy process, consisting of the vision and business objectives, that provides direction to the company. (ii) The operational process that ensures compliance – via policies and business processes it keeps the company on the straight and narrow. (iii) The third and most noteworthy process, the people process, ultimately enables the organisation to achieve its objectives and attain success. The ability to manage people, is therefore the only real competitive advantage separating high performing organisations from those who merely stumble ahead.

People Management – Six (6) Essential Enablers

People Management is about managing the entire “Employee Life-cycle”, for example, managing the employment process from the moment a decision is made to advertise a position to the day the employee exits the organisation. To be good at people management, in other words, to successfully manage the employee life-cycle, the following abilities are essential:


Do I know myself? Self-knowledge is the beginning of healing and personal growth. With knowledge of personal strengths and areas that require improvement and more so,  if this self-knowledge is related to a specific role or objective, a personal development plan or strategy can be developed and managed to ensure personal growth and success in that target role, for instance, in the role of managing people.

Building an “A” Team

It is common knowledge that talented people are productive, highly efficient and in huge demand. Allen Fielder an HR Executive in Barclays always said: “Give yourself a break, appoint only the best”. But, do we know what talented people or “A” players look like and do we know how to attract talented people and what will make them stay?

Accelerating Performance

Managers good at managing people know how to help their employees perform and know the answers to the following questions: Do the employees reporting to me know exactly what they are accountable for and how it contributes to overall organisation performance? Do I hold them accountable? Are my employees continuously guided and coached? Do my employees dread a performance conversation, or is it something they look forward to and actively take part in?

Building Trust – the “Mike Conversation”

The foundation of all relationships is trust and trust is not a given, it is earned. Reflecting on the following questions can help us gain insight into the levels of trust that exists in our relationships: Are the people I am accountable for convinced that I always have only their best interest at heart? Do I regularly conduct motivational developmental conversations? Am I saying thank you in a way that positively impacts behaviour? Do my employees spontaneously share their fears with me and ask for help?

Motivational Reward

Rewards have always been used by those in power to entice the behaviour required to achieve personal and/or organisation objectives. However, not all reward practices or programmes achieve the anticipated results. Answering the following questions might help us gain insight into the efficiency of our reward approach: Do we use reward principles that ensures fair reward practices and decisions? Is the reward practices / programmes we use aligned to the business strategy? Do the  reward practices and decisions we employ motivate behaviour that realises our core business objectives? Am I actively involved in the reward decisions of those reporting to me?

Creating a Positive Vibration

“No matter what leaders set out to do – whether it’s creating strategy or mobilizing teams to action – their success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything right, if leaders fail in their primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should” (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee)

Am I creating an environment in which my employees want to and can perform at their best? Does the culture we create attract and retain talent?

Over the next six weeks we will discuss each of the above six people management abilities in more detail. The aim is to help the reader understand what the all-important  people management skill is all about and also to assist the reader to identify those areas that he or she can work on to improve overall people management efficiency.

In the meantime, innovative and affordable solutions are available. Should you wish to explore available options, you are more than welcome to contact the writers of this article.


Dennis Farrell (Dr)                             Murray Burger             

082 453 5480                                          082 453 5350

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