How to Manage People
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How to Manage People

Fast, Effective Management Skills that Really Get Results

Michael Armstrong

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eBook - ePub

How to Manage People

Fast, Effective Management Skills that Really Get Results

Michael Armstrong

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About This Book

From bestselling author Michael Armstrong comes a new edition of the business staple, How to Manage People. Providing valuable insight into the skills required to be an effective manager, this one-stop guide to people management will help you get the best from your staff through motivation, reward and leadership. Fully updated for 2019, this 4th edition now features even more practical exercises, useful templates, and top tips, alongside advice on managing virtual teams, enhancing employee engagement and managing conflict. Essential reading for anyone who wants to get the best from their teams, How to Manage People distils the essence of good management into one handy, easy-to-use book. The Creating Success series of books...
Unlock vital skills, power up your performance and get ahead with the bestselling Creating Success series. Written by experts for new and aspiring managers and leaders, this million-selling collection of accessible and empowering guides will get you up to speed in no time. Packed with clever thinking, smart advice and the kind of winning techniques that really get results, you'll make fast progress, quickly reach your goals and create lasting success in your career.

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Handling people problems

If you manage people you will have people problems. They are bound to happen and you are the person on the spot who has to handle them. The basic approach you should use in tackling people problems is to:
  1. Get the facts. Make sure that you have all the information or evidence you need to understand exactly what the problem is.
  2. Weigh and decide. Analyse the facts to identify the causes of the problem. Consider any alternative solutions to the problem and decide which is likely to be the most successful.
  3. Take action. Following the decision plan what you are going to do, establish goals and success criteria and put the plan into effect.
  4. Check results. Monitor the implementation of the plan and check that the expected results have been obtained.
The most common problems covered in this chapter are to do with:
  • disciplinary issues;
  • negative behaviour;
  • under-performance;
  • absenteeism;
  • timekeeping;
  • handling challenging conversations.

Disciplinary issues

Employees can be dismissed because they are not capable of doing the work or for misconduct. It is normal to go through a formal disciplinary procedure containing staged warnings but instant dismissal can be justified for gross misconduct (eg serious theft), which should preferably be defined in the company’s disciplinary procedure or employee handbook. But anyone in the UK with two years’ service or more can claim unfair dismissal if their employer cannot show that one of these reasons applied, if the dismissal was not reasonable in the circumstances, if a constructive dismissal has taken place, or if there has been a breach of a customary or agreed redundancy procedure and there are no valid reasons for departing from that procedure.
Even if the employer can prove to an employment tribunal that there was good reason to dismiss the employee the tribunal will still have to decide whether or not the employer acted in a reasonable way at the time of dismissal. The principles defining ‘reasonable’ behaviour are in line with the principles of natural justice and are as follows:
  • the employee should be informed of the nature of the complaint;
  • the employee should be given the chance to explain;
  • the employee should be given the opportunity to improve, except in particularly gross cases of incapability or misconduct;
  • the employee should be warned of the consequences in the shape of dismissal if specified improvements do not take place;
  • the employer’s decision to dismiss should be based on sufficient evidence;
  • the employer should take any mitigating circumstances into account;
  • the offence or misbehaviour should merit the penalty of dismissal rather than some lesser penalty.
Your organization may have a statutory disciplinary procedure. You need to know what that procedure is and the part you are expected to play in implementing it. Whether or not there is a formal procedure, if you believe that disciplinary action is necessary you need you take the following steps when planning and conducting a disciplinary interview:
  1. Get all the facts in advance, including statements from people involved.
  2. Invite the employee to the meeting in writing, explaining why it is being held and that they have the right to have someone present at the meeting on their behalf.
  3. Ensure that the employee has reasonable notice (ideally at least two days).
  4. Plan how you will conduct the meeting.
  5. Line up another member of management to attend the meeting with you to take notes (they can be important if there is an appeal) and generally provide support.
  6. Start the interview by stating the complaint to the employee and referring to the evidence.
  7. Give the employee plenty of time to respond and state their case.
  8. Take a break as required to consider the points raised and to relieve any pressure taking place in the meeting.
  9. Consider what action is appropriate, if any. Actions should be staged starting with a recorded written warning, followed, if the problem continues, by a first written warning, then a final written warning and lastly, if the earlier stages have been exhausted, disciplinary action, which would be dismissal in serious cases.
  10. Deliver the decision, explaining why it has been taken and confirm it in writing.
If all the stages in the disciplinary procedure have been completed and the employee has to be dismissed, or where immediate dismissal can be justified on the grounds of gross misconduct, you may have to carry out the unpleasant duty of dismissing the employee. Again, you should have a colleague or someone from HR with you when you do this. You should:
  • if possible, meet when the office is quiet, preferably on a Friday;
  • keep the meeting formal and organized;
  • write down what you are going to say in advance, giving the reason and getting your facts, date and figures right;
  • be polite but firm – read out what you have written down and make it clear that it is not open for discussion;
  • ensure that the employee clears his or her desk and has no opportunity to take away confidential material or use their computer;
  • see the employee off the premises – some companies use security guards as escorts but this is rather heavy handed (although it might be useful to have someone on call in case of difficulties).

Pause for thought

It’s lunchtime and you had to intervene in a heated argument between two members of your department in which both made several unsavoury allegations about the other. They are both extremely angry and both say that they won’t work near the other. What do you do?

Handling negative behaviour

You may well come across negative behaviour from time to time on the part of one of the members of your team. This may take the form of lack of interest in the work, unwillingness to cooperate with you or other people, complaining about the work or working conditions, grumbling at being asked to carry out a perfectly reasonable task, objecting strongly to being asked to do something extra (or even refusing to do it) – ‘it’s not in my job description’, or, in extreme cases, insolence. People exhibiting negative behaviour may be quietly resentful rather than openly disruptive. They mutter away in the background at meetings and lack enthusiasm.
As a manager you can tolerate a certain amount of negative behaviour as long as the individual works reasonably well and does not upset other team members. You have simply to say to yourself ‘It takes all sorts…’ and put up with it, although you might quietly say during a review meeting ‘You’re doing a good job but...’ If, however, you do take this line you have to be specific. You must cite actual instances. It is no good making generalized accusations which will either be openly refuted or internalized by the receiver, making him or her even more resentful.
If the negative behaviour means that the individual’s contribution is not acceptable and is disruptive then you must take action. Negative people can be quiet but they are usually angry about something; their negative behaviour is an easy way of expressing their anger. To deal with the problem it is necessary to find out what has made the person angry.

Causes of negative behaviour

There are many possible causes of negative behaviour, which could include one or more of the following:
  • a real or imagined slight from you or a colleague;
  • a feeling of being put upon;
  • a belief that the contribution made by the person is neither appreciated nor rewarded properly in terms of pay or promotion;
  • resentment at what was perceived to be unfair criticism from you or a colleague;
  • anger directed at the company or you because what was considered to be a reasonable request was turned down, eg for leave or a transfer, or because of an unfair accusation.

Dealing with the problem

It is because there can be such a variety of real or imagined causes of negative behaviour that dealing with it becomes one of the most difficult tasks you h...

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