People managers are an indispensable link between an organisation’s top management and its employees. However, their impact is affected by several moderating factors, such as leadership style, management skills and organisational support. This evidence review draws together the best available evidence to explore why people managers are important, what a good people manager looks like, and how to develop effective people managers.
As organisations navigate issues such as hybrid working and recruitment it’s important to realise that people managers not only need to manage their teams’ day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, they also need to nurture their people, implement corporate strategies and act as change agents.
Use the practice summary to understand the main insights and practical recommendations for action.
See the scientific summary for our methodology and technical information on the research and study references.
Effective people managers: An evidence review | Practice summaryDownload this PDF
Leadership development: An evidence review | Scientific summaryDownload this PDF
People managers: An evidence review | Scientific summaryDownload this PDF
- People managers have the power to influence a wide range of organisational outcomes, including team performance, employee engagement, absenteeism, strategy implementation and change interventions.
- It’s important to ensure people managers possess the qualities which align with that of the organisation and what it is trying to achieve.
- Good people management skills include effective communication and the ability to build trust, psychological safety and cohesion within their team.
- People managers need adequate time and support to carry out their roles effectively, typically spending no more than 30% of their time on non-managerial duties.
- The design and delivery of training for people managers influences its effectiveness. L&D professionals should use a training needs analysis, ensuring content meets development needs.
- Focus on developing general management skills (such as goal-setting, performance appraisal and time management) and to a lesser extent interpersonal skills (such as listening, questioning, negotiating and mentoring).
- Incorporate multiple teaching and learning methods, including experiential learning, which provide opportunities for managers to practise their skills.
- Think about and treat people managers as a critical component of organisational success.
- Scope people manager roles to reflect the potential contributions they can make – from employee wellbeing to performance to implementing strategy.
- Recruit people managers based on their people skills and provide training to further enhance these capabilities.
- Work to ensure that people managers have the information, capability, support and advice they need to be effective.
- Identify development needs through a training needs analysis and be careful to select training that addresses these needs.
- Actively involve people managers in planning strategy implementation and change interventions.
- Protect the time people managers have to carry out their management responsibilities.
Read the CIPD’s November 2023 submission to His Majesty’s Treasury
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