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The 'Why' of People Management


​When it comes to people management the difference between effective and ineffective supervisors can boil down to understanding the 'why' of people management. A supervisor that understands why an employee is effective and maximizes employee opportunities for success has a greater chance at being an effective supervisor. Any number of metrics can assist a manager’s assessment an employee’s effectiveness. Most often supervisors have plenty of data to determine employee effectiveness or ineffectiveness. Therefore, they know the performance level of each employee. However, the ability to understand why an employee is effective or ineffective can go a long way toward effective and ineffective supervision. The difference between good and bad managers can be how well they can answer a simple question – “Why is employee X effective at her/his job?” Could it be that simple? I believe so and here’s why. To begin with, it shows the supervisor knows what to look for in an employee. If a supervisor can understand why an employee is effective, first and foremost, it shows that the supervisor comprehends their employee’s job. It shows an understanding of effective position performance, at a position duties level. Therefore, the supervisor understands what knowledge, skills and abilities it takes to effectively perform the position. Understanding the ‘why’ allows managers to:

  • Hire the people with the right strengths to perform their unit positions

  • Understand the position duties

  • Understand the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) needed to effectively perform the duties of the positions in their unit

  • Nurture and strengthen those KSA most responsible for effective performance

The last point above is what separates the good from the great. Good managers understand the ‘why’; great managers understand the ‘why’ and know ‘how’ to strengthen the knowledge, skills and abilities of her/his employees to maximize their performance. There’s an element of strengths based-management to understanding the why. It demonstrates the supervisor knows what knowledge is needed, what skills to hone and what abilities to strengthen. There is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all solution. Great managers customize their teaching to the individual position, employee and situation...that gets us to the “How”. Great managers create a department populated by individuals that have the knowledge, skills and abilities to best perform not only the current duties of their department, but develop their people to handle future needs of the organization. I will address more on the “How” in a future blog.

​_________________________________________________________________ Tremier Johnson is the principle HR Consultant for TLJ HR Consulting and Lacuna Partners.

#humanresources #management #peoplemanagement

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