Skip to main content

People management for humans

People management for humans
Published: October 12, 2023
Share this article:

Andy Dickson has been managing people, teams, and functions for 32 years. He is Head of Global Customer Solutions at Impact and has recently celebrated his 25th year working here. In this anniversary series, he will be sharing his top tips, thoughts and learnings about managing people better. 

Valuing people

To value people as a manager sounds like an absolute no-brainer, but throughout my career, I have seen managers fall short on this time after time.

People are pretty unique in my experience. Dig deep with anyone, and you will discover a wealth of outstanding qualities, stories, and abilities. Sadly, lousy management leaves much of this treasure trove of talent and human potential untapped and wasted.

Often, people do wonderful things outside of work but choose not to use these gifts in their job roles, either because they are in the wrong job, they are not given the right opportunities, or their manager fails to liberate their potential – or even worse, suppresses it.

Extraordinary individuals

As humans, we are all different. But one of the challenges with much management training is that it generalises people, putting them into boxes and giving them labels and types. This makes managing easier but ineffective; people can’t all be managed in the same way.

The management position is a privilege, and it brings with it the responsibility of talent growth and development. But this responsibility is also a gift; is there anything better or more important than helping others grow and develop?

People are complex and extraordinary, and it is only by getting to know them as individuals – understanding their strengths and development areas, their hopes and fears, their aspirations and dreams ­ ­– that we can hope to liberate their unique potential within our organisations.

Motivation theory is one of the first things we get taught in management training, but sadly it’s often one of the first things we forget. How many people have managers who manage them in the best way for them as an individual?

Time and energy

There are many helpful starting points for understanding individual behaviour, motivations, and reasons for action. Still, in the end, it is about knowing them as a person and understanding what makes them tick. This is where management flexibility is crucial; we need to understand what is required and what works for the individual people we manage. This takes time and energy, but in my experience, this time and energy are well spent, as this is where the magic happens.

Too often, a lack of time is stated as the reason good management practice doesn’t happen. It’s certainly true that if we are too busy doing our work and managing the gaps, it won’t lead to good management. But in my experience, the real reason behind poor management practice is a reluctance to put in the time and energy it takes to liberate human potential. If this is true in your organisation, then help your managers by carving out motivation, time, and space for them to find this energy; let your managers manage.

To quote a memorable speech from the film Gladiator:

“What we do today echoes through eternity!”

When we make decisions, they may seem small to us, but they echo through the eternity of the lives of those we manage. So, let’s do our best to make good decisions on their behalf – decisions based on what works for them as unique individuals rather than for us. Because only by managing people in the best way for them will they, in turn, give us their best.  

You may also like:

I don’t have time for a 1:1 by Penelope Mavor.