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People Management is one of the key characteristics of the Charter – and binds many of the elements of good employment practice together. Yet too often people managers don’t receive any training or support to help them fulfill their role.

In October 2021, we held our first in-person event since March 2020, inviting employers to join us in a discussion of the development of people management skills. Prompted by our recent paper, which discusses the importance, implementation, and effect of positive people management skills, we held a roundtable event. This event was the culmination of our ongoing campaign with CIPD North and Acas North West. This blog summarises the key points from the event, and ends with a video and list of relevant resources.


Why is People Management so important?

People Management has an impact on all aspects of an employee’s experience. Ben Willmott began the discussion with research from CIPD’s Good Work Index, which found that only 40% of line managers actually receive any training in management skills.

Those employed by untrained ‘bottom quartile’ managers experienced higher levels of pressure, more stress at work, and subsequently higher sickness absence rates. Over 50% of those with bottom quartile managers claimed that work had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 13% of those with top-quartile managers.

Positive people management skills have an impact right across an organisation – supporting not only colleagues and their health, but overall retention, loyalty, and reputation.


How can People Management be better prioritised?

A crucial skill that people managers must develop is emotional intelligence. Truly making an effort to understand employees, and creating an environment where people feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns, is key to developing strong workplaces.

Terry Duffy explored how these ‘soft skills' are the essential foundation of line managers, and these need to be developed further. Employees have been through a huge process of change – many were nervous when asked in March 2020 to work from home for the first time, and now as we look to return, there is another point of fear. Giving our managers the best opportunity to handle this transition will ensure that everyone is as comfortable as possible.   

Line managers require the training to be able to deliver properly – as they are at the forefront of care for employees. Poor communication will lead to resentment, a lack of openness, and even conflict. Professor Sir Cary Cooper remarked that we tend to promote people based on their technical competence rather than people skills, meaning that skills like emotional intelligence are often overlooked.


Positive People Management in action: One & All

We were joined by Nicola Ryan, from the Stockport-based knitwear company One & All, Members of the Charter. She described the impact that a focus on people management skills has had on their organisation.

Since this change - engagement from colleagues has tripled, 100% of employees are now proud to work for the organisation, and profits are 8x higher. A stronger focus on their people, and having managers equipped to provide this focus, has created much higher motivation and a culture of care between colleagues. This culture applies to the whole organisation, and into the Senior Leadership Team – which was especially proven during the pandemic when there were voluntary salary reductions across the board to support the lower paid.

One & All are an example of how, when good people management practice is put into place, it has an impact that extends across the whole organisation. Positive people management skills are crucial to helping organisations maneuver out of the pandemic – and our speakers really drove this point home, backed up with key findings from their research. Find out more about this research in the below presentation slides, livestream link, and resources.

We’d like to thank our inspirational speakers and to all of our Charter delegates.