Most people don’t learn how to be good bosses. But good bosses aren’t born, just made — cultivated through dedicated attention to how to inspire the best from their colleagues, deliver on key goals and navigate difficult choices. 

“Companies don’t always teach people how to be good managers, so you have to develop those skills on your own,” says TC’s Elissa L. Perry, co-author of the recent book Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager with her colleague Carol T. Kulik from the University of South Australia. 

Elissa L. Perry, Professor of Psychology and Education, and co-author Carol T. Kulik. (Photos courtesy of authors) 

“Developing your HR skills will make you a better manager,” the pair write, ”and enhance your own career outcomes – it’s a total win-win.”

Find a few quick tips from Perry and Kulik below, and additional resources from their book here

(Photo: iStock) 

Think about people management as a science. You wouldn’t wake up tomorrow and expect to spontaneously know everything about brain surgery — or be able to walk into an operating room and “learn on the job.” Yet somehow, the difficulty of people management is often taken for granted — despite the existence of evidence-based recommendations for leaders in professional settings. 

“Managers often think they are too busy putting out fires to worry about the ‘soft’ stuff like HR,” write Perry, Professor of Psychology and Education, and Kulik. But linked to “higher employee productivity, lower turnover and long-term company performance,” effective human resources are critical. And it’s not just “common sense,” the authors write. 

“Good HR makes your company more competitive in today’s marketplace,” the scholars explain. “And, because line managers like you are the ones ‘doing HR’ in today’s organizations, managers with better HR skills are receiving better performance evaluations, being promoted faster, and getting larger salary increases.”

(Photo: iStock)

Clearly define success. “Before you can judge your employees’ performance or coach them toward better performance, you need to be very clear about what good performance looks like and how it can be measured,” Perry and Kulik advise. 

In addition to walking readers through examples, the social-org psych experts walk readers through evaluation methods and common errors that managers make in evaluating performance — such as being heavily influenced by an employee’s most recent performance, various biases and tendencies towards leniency or criticism.

Being a good manager means balancing the roles of “judge” and “coach,” Perry and Kulik attest, in addition to giving the tools needed to rise to the occasion. 

(Photo: iStock)

Facilitate dialogue and your own accountability. Succeeding as a manager means regularly seeking feedback from reports and investing in their achievement and wellbeing.

“After carefully hiring and developing employees, you want to make sure that you are retaining the people who contribute the most,” the authors write, offering guidance around retention strategies like “stay interviews,” diversity and inclusion feedback, etc. 

“Every relationship is unique. But you can find ways to connect with different employees so that there’s a sense of trust within each dyadic relationship.” 

Learn more about Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager here