Managing People – The 3 Areas of Leverage

Ever felt overwhelmed at managing people either as a project manager, a supervisor, heck even as a parent.

Humans are the most complex creatures in the universes. Just like no 2 faces are alike no 2 humans are alike, no matter how tempting it is for managers to treat humans like machines.

There are several classics such as Dale Carnegie’s ’How To Win Friends & Influence People’ or Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence The Psychology of Persuasion’ that I would recommend.

There is no getting around that people management is a crucial skill for anyone wishing to achieve substantial success.

This is a complex subject but there is still one thing that you can do that will be a game changer. If you would like to know more about the concept of distlilling success to a few critical things read further.

Research has shown that there is one quality that distinguishes great managers across the board:

the ability to discover what is unique among employees and then capitalize on it.

But as noted before humans have so much complexity that this could become an endless pursuit.

No worries,below I list three categories of employee traits you can use to discover and capitalize on

- strengths and weaknesses

Used to be that the prevailing wisdom was to polish every employee by focussing on correcting their weaknesses. Mediocre managers continue to practice this discredited wisdom. They are wary of encouraging their strengths as they fear this would breed over confidence and create a prima donna mentality.

But recent research has revealed that it is beneficial to focus on employee strengths and that immediate and specific praise where it is deserved will encourage better performance than undermining it.

The formula could be laid out this way – build up employee’s self assurance (regardless of actual skills, research has shown that superior self assurance leads to superior performance). Next build up the challenge at hand. Again research has shown that if a task is perceived to be easy then people tend not to draw on their resources heavily.

- triggers

Unfortunately there is no formula. This is as much an art as it can get. Managers need to be aware of what activities trigger their employee’s strengths. For some it could be the chance to go at it on their own. For some others it could be constant encouragement from the manager. There are just too many variables to come up with a formula.

- learning styles

There are three predominant learning styles. Analyzing, Doing and Watching. And there are endless combinations of these three styles.

The analyzers learn best by breaking up the problem into pieces and understanding each and every piece. They want to know everything about their work before they start work.

The doers learn best by doing. Unlike the analyzers doers learn everything about their work while performing it.

The watchers are different. Since most formal learning programs are built for the analyzers and doers the watchers are perceived to be poor learners. Watchers learn best by observing someone else perform the task.

My predominant learning style is ‘Doing’ with a strong tilt towards ‘Analyzing’. Hence I love the challenge of being thrown into new tasks. I am most certainly not a ‘watcher’ and would fall asleep instantly if my manager were to have me learn by observing someone.

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