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Managing People: WIIFM?


It’s a tough (not dirty!) job but someone’s gotta do it!

If you’re a seasoned manager, you know that the scope, autonomy and accountability of managing people have changed dramatically in the past 5 years.  If you’re a new manager, you’ll want to know not only what’s in it for the organization but also what, exactly, is in it for you to assume this role.

Externally, you’re challenged by:

  • Change:  The pace can be fierce and feel like it never lets up.  You’re bombarded by requests from above and below.  Decisions must be nimble if measurable results are to be achieved.
  • Diversity:  Teams are no longer homogenous.  They differ from age, to culture, education, gender, religion, sexual orientation…Clients want to be served by people “like me”.
  • Ethics:  Lack of integrity is being challenged.  Doing the right thing is key.
  • Globalization: There’s more competition in a growing international market place.  Clients have more choices and will want to know what’s in it for them to deal with you.
  • Mergers and acquisitions:  It’s survival of the fittest.  You can be in control of your business or be controlled.  You need a Strategy!
  • Organizational Structure:  The old hierarchical org. chart probably no longer serves you as well as it once did.  It needs to support your Strategy…which assumes you have one, in writing, that all stakeholders are aware of and can commit to.
  • Social responsibility:  The line between businesses and not for profits is fuzzier.  Businesses need and want to be viewed as good corporate citizens.  Not for profits need and want to operate in a more business-like fashion.  There are excellent opportunities to create new relationships and synergies.

Internally, you’re challenge by:

  • More client demands:  They have more choices so their expectations for products and services are higher.
  • More generations:  Up to 5  age groups are working side by side for the first time.  Their education, expertise (e.g. technology!) and expectations are quite different.
  • More contractors (expertise just-in-time):  This can lead to challenges in capturing intellectual capital and transferring knowledge to permanent full or part time employees as well as new contractors when people move on.
  • More employees working remotely:  Today the challenge is to manage their need for independence by measuring results rather than  face-time.
  • More people coping with stress:  Managers are spending more time helping employees find reasonable work-life balance as they cope with changes at work and competing responsibilities at home (family, personal learning, community service).

Your key to success?

  • Look up for causes.  Are Vision, Mission, Values, Philosophy, Strategy and Culture clear?  Do senior management walk the talk?  Is there visionary leadership?
  • Look down for solutions.  Engaged employees deliver the unique value proposition that keeps your clients satisfied and loyal and, in turn, ensures organizational profitability or sustainability.  Your team knows the opportunities and challenges best and can recommend options.  Just ask them!


  • Values, integrity and ethics are the basis of all decisions.  Your team is looking to you as their compass.
  • Hire the best fit candidates.  Diversify your teamThen position them where they can play to their strengths and support them to achieve success.  One-size-fits-all solutions no longer work so get to know what incents each individual.
  • Trust and respect your team.  Then they’re more likely to commit to you even though they may not agree with all your decisions.
  • Communicate-communicate-communicate!  Offer meaningful info on a timely basis, be transparent, ask for feedback and respond to it.  If you don’t, the rumour mill will fill in the blanks.
  • Invest in your people:  They’re your competitive advantage, not a cost.  Coach, mentor, train and develop them.
  • Create self-directed teams.  Employees today need and want to take responsibility for their own motivation and performance.
  • Recognize and reward client-centric behaviours.  Both monetary (base salary, bonuses) and non-monetary rewards should be tailored to the individual’s measurable contributions for maximum impact.
  • Ensure work is fun!  It shouldn’t feel like indentured servitude!

What’s in it for you to manage?

Managing people isn’t for everyone.  A career assessment can help you confirm that this is a role where you’ll play to your strengths.  Management training and development will help you keep current with changing external and internal challenges.  Partnering with a coach and mentor  will provide you with support and solutions just-in-time.  The pay-off?  Watching each team member engage, learn and grow.