Managers are in a tough position, sandwiched between employee complaints and pressure from higher ups. Even years of studying and work experience can’t prevent a few blunders that can send a team or department on a serious downward spiral. It’s not as hard as you’d think for a well-meaning and book-smart manager to let a team dissolve into an ineffective group of resentful individuals if he or she isn’t aware of how to effectively communicate with people. Luckily, this can be overcome with some effort. Start by working from this model:
1. Take responsibility for your feelings. Frustrated or upset? No big deal. Just admit it and be honest about it, and don’t blame others for “making” you feel a certain way. Blame games and facades destroy trust and positive working relationships.
2. Tune in to the feelings of your employees. Everyone has a bad day now and then, but if someone seems particularly down, ask (privately and empathetically) if he or she is all right. This builds mutual respect and can be a window in to the morale of your team. Don’t be afraid to inquire about the morale of the entire team if everyone seems to be dispirited.
3. Respect their feelings. Ask things like “how would it make you feel if I did this?” Even if you know a certain course of action is unavoidable, it might help you approach the matter differently, and will definitely help your employees to feel valued.
4. Challenge your assumptions. You’ve probably heard the silly adage about what happens when you assume (if you haven’t, Google it for a laugh) but it’s true! Don’t guess why your employees are doing something a certain way—just ask. You’ll save a lot of time and build trust as well.
5. Be empathetic. To use a cliché, put yourself in the shoes of each individual employee. If you can start to see things the way they do, responding to them appropriately will come much more naturally.
6. Avoid the tendency to be hypercritical. Do you want a judgmental lecture from your boss? Neither do your employees. You can offer constructive criticism without disrespecting or pre-judging your employees and their actions.
Don’t you just feel smarter already?
- Get Smarter! The Essence of Emotional Intelligence (quittellingmewhattodo.com)
- Don’t Be a Dictator! And Other Lessons in Effective Management (quittellingmewhattodo.com)