Some Important Observations About Managing People At Work

Some Important Observations About Managing People At Work

Today I am going to share with you some important observations about managing people at work. Paying attention to some of these issues can improve how you manage people as a leader.

    • Never pay people the same even if they are in the same grade. Remember being in the same grade is only a starting point. Those who give consistent and superior value must always be paid more even if the difference is small. Use tangible evidence to make such decisions.
    • If you promote people to a level of work beyond their competency they will bring the job to their true but lower level of competency e.g. GM when the person is clerical level. They start doing clerical work at GM level. Most organisations face this challenge although they do not want to acknowledge and take corrective measures.
    • When recruiting and selecting employees, do not overemphasise qualifications e.g. Master’s Degree or above. In most roles more years of education add very little value to differences in performance. As an example if you have 100 Accountants, all of them have a degree in Accounting but 50 have a Master’s degree it does not follow that those with Master’s degrees will perform better than those who do not. You miss getting the best people for the job when you put a condition that does not add value to your organisation.
    • When recruiting and selecting employees do not overemphasise years of experience. Normally each role has a minimum number of years of experience required for someone to master the job. Any years after that, adds very little to differences in performance. If for example we have 100 Sales Managers and all have met the minimum years of experience in a similar role of e.g. 5 years but 50 have more than 10 years’ experience it does not follow that those with more than 10 years will perform better.
    • Qualification like a degree gives you domain knowledge it does not guarantee that you will perform on the job. This is why you find highly educated people failing and in some instances destroying organisations. What drives individual performance is General Mental Ability barring any personality defect that may derail the individual.
    • In most roles you do not need to have studied an area related to the job to perform well. Most of the jobs even at higher levels can be done by anyone with a certain level of thinking regardless of which area they have studied. What is required is on the job training. Examples of such professions include marketing, human resources, procurement and many more. Engineers can be marketers and be very successful. Engineers can be very successful HR practitioners.
    • If you are leading a team in your organisation, most of the team members will agree with you in your presence but show that they disagree once they are out of the meeting. The signs are if team members never challenge you and tend to agree with whatever you say. In order to create successful teams you must create psychological safety; where team members feel safe to raise issues without fear of being dressed down or any other negative consequences.
    • Selecting people on merit for any role is the surest way to guarantee performance for your business. Any other consideration will serve you in the short term but in the long term your business will suffer.
    • What drives economic development for any country is; the quality of human resources not quantity or qualifications, control of corruption and ease of doing business and all these give more value than FDI.
    • When you are out of a system it is easy to see problems and potential solutions. Once you are in the system, it teaches you how to comply no matter how clever you are. This is why you find clever people doing stupid things once they are in a system.
    • In well-structured businesses, company performance is not determined by one to two individuals, it is determined by how efficient the system is. This is why you find in most multinationals leadership changes do not bring radical changes to how the system functions or performs. Good systems outlive individuals and this is how businesses must be structured.
    • Any business performance not anchored on a strong culture deliberately engineered by the leadership will not last.
    • If you change leadership of your organisation without building a supportive culture, it is very likely that the new leader will fail. Culture transformation should be incorporated in any leadership change.
    • You cannot train people how to sell. The best way to get sales people is to select those already gifted with this skill.
    • Do not let bad people join your organisation. Take your time and screen at entry. That way you save money.
    • Leaders who are obsessed about themselves may succeed in the short term but with time their true character will come out; narcissistic –psychopathy- they are extremely cruel and everything has to be about them. Those who oppose them suffer and are never forgiven.

I hope the above observations will help you redirect your organisation towards good people practices.

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 0242 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: or visit our website at

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