Managing People in Abnormal Times
People are the most valuable asset of a business, and at the same time the most difficult resource the entrepreneur manages. This challenge heightens in abnormal business times, as employees present excuses for failure. Deadlines and set goals become unrealistic, interpersonal conflicts abound, and company culture becomes difficult to build.
People management can be defined as the act of using best practices to empower the workforce of a business or company to put in optimum performance to accomplish set goals in a given time frame. Business managers, team heads, and departmental heads use people management to oversee workflow and trigger employee optimal performance at the workplace.
In normal business times or conditions, quality people management requires the manager to possess the following skills: employee empowerment, active listening, conflict resolution, flexibility, patience, effective communication, trust, and organization.
The millennial entrepreneurial woman should not only know these conventional people management skills, but should also know how to modify them and put them to use in abnormal times.
1) Handling interpersonal conflict.
The key idea in the people management skill of conflict resolution is fairness to all parties.
The manager mediating an employee conflict should exercise a high sense of good judgement of the situation to ensure that no one feels cheated. The person at fault should be disciplined. This will promote collaboration, team spirit, and respect for one another in the workplace or any other environment.
[Related: It's Time to Call Out Bad Behaviors]
2) Managing deadlines.
In abnormal business times, targets given to people must be realistic and achievable within the time frame and given available resources. People should not be put under unhealthy work pressure in achieving deadlines.
Risk to life and property are quite high abnormal times. Urgent assignments should be given to people that have capacity to deliver even under pressure. They will be happy and ready to deal with it.
3) Building company culture.
Company culture is a tradition that operates at all times. The culture of good product quality and prompt delivery should not be compromised, even in abnormal times. The brand name must be protected.
The company workforce must operate with this consciousness and strive to keep the standard. The right motivation will put them to work well.
[Related: Six Key Steps to Research Company Culture]
4) Active listening.
Listening is an indispensable skill for leaders. Every leader in any capacity should posses the skill of listening or hearing people out when they are speaking to them.
Many times, leaders use their office to intimidate people and deny them the opportunity to speak out and be heard. Listening to people shows respect, builds relationships, increases knowledge, generates ideas, and builds loyalty.
Leaders should not interrupt when the subordinate is speaking. They should focus on understanding the person and, where necessary, ask questions for clarity.
Training is critical to high performance and productivity. It enlarges people's capacity to do things and to be responsible. Though resources are not readily available in abnormal times, routine training should not be waived.
People management remains an important tool of not only stabilizing a business, but also moving forward, even in abnormal times. Leaders in all categories of business management should possess it and deploy it as the need arises.
The millennial entrepreneurial woman should acquire people management skills and use them to grow her business and keep her employees in good working spirit.
[Related: Thoughtful Leadership and I]
Patricia Okey-Ohuonu is a teacher at Mare Schools. Before moving into education, she worked with UAC Nigeria for over ten years. She has managed and led people throughout her life.
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