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People issues

Common fears

The biggest problem that managers have with people is meeting them in a situation that requires some form of appraisal or assessment. The formal year end appraisal (see Appraisal – part 1) or the initial interview are usually viewed with some trepidation.

Managers are often told exactly what they should be doing in these situations but not exactly how to do it.
During an interview or an appraisal (or at other times) most managers try to assess the individual in some fashion.
It is quite natural for many managers to indulge in a spot of amateur psychology trying to find out what makes an individual tick.
They believe that having this special knowledge will somehow help them to modify behaviours and maximise performances.

It is impossible for managers to attend a variety of psychology training programmes and expect to accumulate knowledge that it has taken others years to accumulate. All they can hope to do is to be informed of some key activities that they can actually try out.
It can be dangerous to make assumptions about people based upon a misplaced belief that you have an excellent understanding of human psychology.

Managing people?

There are many managers who when asked would not be able to give a concise definition of management.
There will be those who refer to profit, results, objectives and working with people.

If people manage they should be able to measure the success of their performance.
However, if you ask companies how they measure management performance it is likely that there will be little commonality.

This may be hard to believe. The management of people probably has more common themes than selling objects.
At least the latter has variation of product, market and consumer profiles etc. This aspect of business is usually better defined than management and often easier to measure and gauge performance.
It is often possible to attach numbers to it.

Management implies an aspect of control of those below them including how they manage those below them.
If many managers are unable to define it and measure it is hardly surprising that they will find it difficult to instil good management practices in others.

Many people make mistakes and it is very easy to look for a scapegoat.
The next time a mistake is made ask yourself ‘who taught them how to do it?’ and the usual response will be a blank look.

If a manager is asked to assess the capabilities of an individual he or she will not give you a truly meaningful answer.
For example, there will be no score out of ten, and no exact grade of performance or star rating.
Instead there will be vague undefined phrases, for example, ‘dynamic’, ‘polished’ or ‘sharp’.

Not being in a position to measure anything makes it harder to categorise their performance.

As a manager, what is the reason for your position?

  • Is it to direct others?
  • Set objectives?
  • Resolve problems?
  • Get results?

The reason for a manager’s existence is to get results.
The only way you can get these is with the help of other people.
So, in fact, you don’t get results by your efforts but by those of others.

For your success you need others.
You need them more than they need you.

When you become a manager you also move into the realm of leadership (see The Complete Leadership package).