Three ways to improve people management skills

By Daniel Taylor

I have been considering what skills are needed for colleagues but also those within the HR and L&D sectors for the future. Like many, I’ve no real idea about what the next month looks like, let alone the skills needed for 2022 and beyond. This adapts the quote by Richard Riley, former US Secretary of Education, who said

‘We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.’

This is where the idea came for a series of blogs for CIPD Manchester. I’ll be publishing these thought pieces approximately every two weeks and hope to get some conversations started on a broader range of issues. I invite you to subscribe and engage with the points raised. I am going to start with people management skills.

People Management Skills

It’s really interesting how many people I have met who have been ‘gifted’ teams during their careers but have not been trained on managing them. Many may catch up on this learning, but many may never bother.

This skills gap is something that the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter has picked up in its Soft Skills in hard times report. It highlights the value of improving people management skills as this directly links to boosting workplace productivity. This is supported by Daphne Doody-Green, Head of CIPD Northern England, CIPD who said:

Daphne Doody-Green

‘Our research shows that too few employers train their line managers to support and manage their staff effectively, and this is having a detrimental effect on the mental health of workers.’

Daphne adds: ‘As a result of the pandemic, managers are facing an ever more critical role in not only ensuring workers make the transition to more home and hybrid ways of working but also that workers are happy, motivated and engaged. We’re delighted to have worked on this collaborative paper to support and prepare managers for any challenges ahead by improving their people management skills to manage and support employees effectively.’

Why don’t more organisations invest in people management skills?

I have experienced poor management and know it can negatively impact you; it can become stressful and a much bigger problem for the individual. However, this can also result in the manager spending more time dealing with the fallout of managing the situation so poorly, which becomes an ongoing cycle of despair!

So why do so many organisations or individuals fail to develop their people management skills? One potential issue is the time and cost aspect of putting a robust offering in place. Yet, there is a broader range of options, including the apprenticeship levy

Beyond a simple programme of development, there are wide-ranging leadership and management skills including, for example, areas such as coaching skills for line managers or giving effective feedback. Softer skills are equally as crucial in developing managers’ abilities to better handle personal issues and the challenges that Covid brings, not to mention better supporting flexible working as standard, not a ‘perk’.

Three ways to improve people management skills

By investing more in people management skills, workers will be better supported and productivity will increase. According to the Soft Skills in Hard Times guide there are three quick ways to help improve people management in any business by:

  1. Supporting the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter – an assessment scheme (backed by Mayor Andy Burnham) developed to help businesses raise their employment standards and connect with other employers and managers to share best practices.
  2. Accessing a wide range of free resources: The CIPD – the professional body for HR and people management – offers free guides and training on everything from making hybrid and flexible working a success to supporting employee engagement wellbeing. Meanwhile, ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides free and impartial advice to employers and employees on employment rights and workplace disputes.
  3. Establishing a safe environment that encourages managers to speak up will help create an open culture where staff can share new ideas for ways of working and be confident in dealing with any problems or issues.

What people management skills do you think line managers should develop?

So, look at the skills your managers need and develop these skills, but it’s also important to hold to account and understand their abilities, in order to further support and develop.

We’d like to hear your thoughts. Feel free to respond in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter using our hashtags #cipdMCR #SkillsForTheFuture

Invitation: Soft skills in hard times event | 20 October

Come along to to explore short and longer-term strategies to enhance the people management skills within your organisation. The afternoon event in collaboration with Acas and the GM Good Employment Charter takes place at the Elliot Conference Suite in Manchester on 20 October and will give you an opportunity to discover what industry experts and other employers advise. We’ll be discussing strategies on how to upskill managers to better support staff in a rapidly changing world of work.

  • Sharon Amesu (Host), Director NW Business Leadership Team, GM Good Employment Charter Board Member
  • Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy, CIPD
  • Prof. Sir Cary Cooper CBE, University of Manchester
  • Nicola Ryan, Director of Colleague Support, One and All
  • Clive Memmott, Chief Executive at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Daniel Taylor
Learning & Development Lead, CIPD Manchester


Location Manchester, England E-mail Hours Our hours vary according to our programme.
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