People management is probably one of the most important ‘soft' leadership skills, as it directly influences productivity via its impact on staff morale and motivation throughout an organization. People management skills are particularly critical during periods of transition. For successful project change management, build leadership models that integrate dialogue-oriented engagement strategies for people management.
Every CEO or senior executive who has overseen a major merger or integration project entailing different and diverse groups of employees knows the importance of people management during such an operational change process. It is important to inspire people, assuage fears and provide transformational leadership while changing employees' roles and responsibilities, introducing new work processes and embarking on a new business strategy.
For successful people management, knowing the dynamics of human behavior is critical. You not only need to know how others behave in a situation, you must know your own role. When you can understand why someone is responding a certain way, you will be ready with more appropriate answers. In the case of project change management, this will help you anticipate and mitigate potential problems or - just as importantly -perceived potential problems.
Communications in a project change management process creates an atmosphere of trust among all those affected by the change. Leaders should share their plans, decision milestones and immediate next steps with their staff. Transparency regarding the impact of changes on operations management and related processes leads to understanding and support from employees. Effective people management also requires that communications be two-ways. Listen; it's the only way to understand and be prepared to address the perspectives of all stakeholders before, during and after the transition.
People management in a change situation works best if you can give your team a sense of ownership. Lead by example and entrust team members with specific tasks that best fit their skills. In this way, they will gain in confidence and buy in to the project change management experience. This holds throughout the process: recognize and acknowledge employees' share and responsibilities in achieving mutual successes. Your team will be better motivated through this transition as well as the ones that follow. Successful people management in a change process should always take an inclusive approach.
When you have a project change management experience on the horizon, your people management skills need to be at their sharpest. It pays to be prepared. Many business management schools offer leadership courses led by skilled trainers with both theoretical and practical experience to help you develop your personal leadership strengths. Behavior-based learning including leadership exercises and leadership coaching lets you test and perfect your approaches with groups. You will also learn better conflict management skills, effective negotiation skills, and team building skills to complement your experience and bring you to a new level in people management.