You’ve done great in your career! You’ve been promoted, climbed the career ladder and reached the heady heights of management… Is it what you dreamed of? If it is, congratulations! But for many people it really isn’t.

Here’s the problem...

Whatever industry you’re in, with very few exceptions, people are likely to be your greatest cost, as well as the centre, the brain, the engine of the business. Collectively, people are the thing that makes the BIGGEST difference to whether the business succeeds or fails. If your people stop, the whole business stops. If your people perform badly, your business performs badly.

People are the engine that drives the business. And you, you lucky thing, you get the job of starting the engine, keeping it running smoothly, then tuning it to maximum performance!

You get to spend your days managing people. For many managers, this is not what they had in mind when they embarked on their career as a vet, a pharmacist, a journalist, a teacher, an event rider, a chef… and so on.

The better people get at their jobs, the more likely to be promoted OUT of what they love doing! What usually happens in many businesses is that promotion = managing a team and doing less of your "thing". It's a weird concept isn't it? "Hey you've worked really hard, you're great at what you do - we're going to reward you by giving you LESS of that to do and instead giving you people to manage!" But people management is a whole different profession all of its own. And not everyone likes it. Not even HR managers. Well... probably in some cases, especially not HR managers!

What makes it harder is that quite often there is little or no training in “people management” along the way. It’s not an easy thing to train well to be fair. Aside from the legal aspects (where there is always a “yes, but in this scenario it’s different because…”), it’s not easy to simulate the huge variation in responses you’ll get from employees, the diverse range of problems, the sensitivities, the talents. Or lack of talents that you really wish they possessed. Or - maybe most importantly - your own reactions, motivations and blips in confidence. It’s easy to think “yeah I can fire someone if I need to”... until you actually have to. And it’s someone you really like.

The simple fact is that many managers “fall” into managing people, they don’t set out choosing it. It just comes with the territory and then often comes as a shock when the complexities become reality.

So next time you have an awkward people-problem to deal with and feel your heart racing, wondering how you can get out of it, don’t beat yourself up! People management is a skill that needs to be learned and developed with time, experience and ideally another pair of eyes and ears supporting you through the steps until you’re confident and competent to do it on your own.

After all, that engine we talked about - would you give a rookie a manual and say “here, here’s how to get the engine going, off you go - oh by the way, ultimately you’re going to have to tune it to Formula 1 performance, ok?”? Of course not! At the very least you’d buddy them up with an expert to coach them through what to do and how, right?

People management is no different. It’s a profession in its own right, so give yourself a break! Find an HR Consultant who understands your business issues and can either do the difficult stuff for you or support you right through it. You’ll make your career path much less stressful - and who knows, with the right support structure in place, you might even enjoy people management!

About Chantal Wellavize

Since setting up HR on Tap in 1998, Chantal has supported businesses with a wide range of HR issues. She has gained a reputation for being pragmatic, results-focused and able to quickly grasp and bring clarity to complex issues.

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