Are You Assertive or Aggressive?

February 21, 2018 by  

There is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive and it depends upon your approach.
Aggressive behavior will not usually get you what you want as it offends others. Aggressive people are the blaming finger pointers who insult and aggravate others by demeaning them in nasty ways. This usually does not result in a good outcome and often exacerbates the situation.
It is better when you feel that you have been offended or disrespected, that you do it in an assertive manner……meaning have the difficult conversation in an honest, calm, and respectful way. That does not mean that the person will easily accept what you have to say, as you are criticizing them, however, you will have a much better chance for a win/win outcome with this strategy.

Is it hard to have such confrontational conversations……however, unless they are a mind reader, the person who offended you may have no idea that they did so and anyway, you are the one walking around with the stomach ache. Therefore it is your responsibility to try to rectify the situation by having that difficult conversation. In addition, you must also realize that having that conversation once may not solve the issue and you may have to screw up your courage more than once in order to obtain a change in behavior. Nonetheless, if you do not tell them you are enabling that behavior and they will very likely continue it. This sort of issue could also be when a colleague does not follow directions or comply with the company policy, which could be having an effect on the productivity of the project the team is working on.
In addition, remember it is not a good idea to confront the person immediately after the event occurs as you will not likely be able to remain calm and respectful. It is better to calm yourself down and make a plan for what you will say, how you will answer to their retorts while keeping your cool and try to anticipate what might happen so you can prepare yourself for how you will react. However, if you wait too long, because it was something that bothered you and not the person who did it, they will likely not recall the incident. So try to prepare to speak with them in a day or so, if you can.

Here is a simple format you can use for this difficult conversation:
1. Describe:
Describe the situation objectively, without using judgment words.
2. Result:
Explain what happens because of that behavior.
3. Request:
Make a polite, specific request as to what you would prefer to happen.

Realize that the person may not be happy with what you are saying and may argue or get nasty. If that happens you should just say you understand why they may feel that way, however, you brought this up as you do work together and wanted to make sure that you could continue to do that in comfort. You might also let them know that it is affecting others and that you are sure that was not their intention. If they stay angry or later give you the cold shoulder, you should let them know that you were sincerely hoping that this could be solved amicably so that you could maintain a cordial relationship. In the end, we cannot make people do things they do not want to do and if a person does not want to change their behavior there may not be much we can do other than this…….if you wish to offer a consequence, such as…..”I really do not want to go to the HR manager or our manager about this as I was hoping we could just work it out ourselves. However, if that is not going to work, I guess I will have to escalate this to them. Then, if you must do that, do it!

This is definitely not an easy thing to do, and many people will do almost anything to avoid having a difficult conversation, nonetheless, conflict does not disappear on its own and if it is not dealt with it can erode morale in a workplace, so better to “bite the bullet” and deal with it.
In the end, remember to stay positive, polite, calm, and honest whenever having such an exchange and be very aware of your body language. In other words, pay attention to your tone of voice, the volume of your voice, your stance, the look on your face as well as your gestures. Because if these do not match and reinforce the respectful words you are using, they will likely obliterate them and the person will feel that you are attacking them and they will very likely just want to attack you back.
Being assertive is not an easy task, however, if you practice it you will get better at it and have less conflict and stress in your life.

What Makes an Effective Manager?

February 2, 2018 by  

Developing effective management skills to deal with the challenges and problems of any organization is certainly important for many businesses and organizations in the current globally competitive environment, especially with the rapidly changing technology we face. Every organization should develop an appropriate managerial training program so that when they elevate someone to that position, they will be sure that the individual will be able to be effective in this role.
Effective Management Skills” help people to be successful in leading their team so that they can help each person to fulfill their potential which will benefit both the person and the entire organization. Proper management is vital in today’s complex environment. The quality of effective management styles can help to determine the culture of the organization, the productivity of its staff, and, ultimately, the success or failure of an organization. A manager should have the ability to direct, supervise, encourage, inspire, support, and co-ordinate. They should also be able to embrace and guide changes in a manner that gets others onboard. Managers need to develop their own leadership qualities as well as those of others. Management requires planning, problem- solving, organizational, and communications skills. These skills are key to successful leadership. In addition, a good manager should exhibit qualities such as integrity, honesty, courage, commitment, sincerity, passion, determination, compassion, and sensitivity.

An effective manager should have the following skills:
I. Creative Problem-Solving Skills.:
(1) Ability to describe and analyze a problem.
(2) Ability to identify the causes of the problem.
(3) Ability to develop creative options and to choose the best course of action.
(4) Ability to implement and evaluate an effective and efficient decision.

II. Effective Communication Skills:
(1) Practice active listening.
(2) Employ effective presentation skills.
(3) Use supportive feedback Skills.
(4) Have excellent report writing skills.

III. Conflict Management Skills:
(1) Ability to identify the sources of conflict, both for functional and dysfunctional conflicts.
(2) Ability to understand the personal styles of conflict resolution.
(3) Ability to choose the best strategy for dealing with a conflict.
(4) Be able to develop the skills to promote constructive conflicts in the organization and the team, as not all conflict is bad, in some cases, it gives us a chance to learn a new approach or perspective.

IV. Negotiation Skills
(1) Ability to distinguish between distributive and integrative negotiations, the various positions one should take, and the principle negotiations necessary to be able to resolve the issue appropriately.
(2) Ability to identifying the common mistakes in negotiation and employ ways to avoid them.
(3) Ability to develop rational thinking when negotiating.
(4) Ability to develop the effective skills for negotiation that benefit all parties involved.

V. Self-Awareness and Improvement:
(1) Having a clear understanding of the concept of self-management. This is emotional intelligence.
(2) Ability to evaluate the effectiveness of self-management.
(3) Ability to use creative and holistic thinking.
(4) Having a clear understanding of self-motivation.
(5) Ability to effectively manage self-learning and change.

In addition, there are other qualities that would be essential for a manager to be able to successfully manage his/her staff.
1. Organizer:
A Manager has to take a long-term view; while a team member will be working towards known and established goals, the manager must be a strategic thinker so that these goals are selected wisely and appropriately. Using longterm strategic planning, the manager should select the optimal plan for the team and implement it. The manager ensures that work is completed in a timely manner with as few mistakes as possible, deals with problems as quickly as possible, and ensures that the necessary resources are allocated and made available.

2. Protector:
In any company, there can be issues, which can impact the workforce. The manager should be aware, guard against these issues, and protect the team wherever and whenever possible. If someone in the team suggests a good plan, the manager must ensure that it receives a fair hearing and that the team knows and understands the outcome. If someone on the team has a problem, the manager should try to help resolve it and the team should know that he/she is there for them.

3. Visionary:
An effective manager should have a vision of where the team is going, the ability to articulate that vision, and the ability to get others onboard collaboratively.

4. Good Communicator:
The ability to effectively communicate with people is the most important skill for every manager. The Manager is also the team’s link to the larger organization, so must have the ability to effectively negotiate and persuade when necessary to ensure the success of the team and their projects.

5. “Cheer Leader”:
Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. If a manager espouses a positive, can-do attitude others will tend to follow that lead. Usually, positive people are more committed to their goals and tend to also be more optimistic. No one wants to be around a negative person and it is up to the manager to set the tone for the team.

6. Competent:
Managers should be chosen based on their ability to successfully lead others rather than on technical expertise or having been with the company a long time. Expertise in effective management is another aspect of competence and usually needs to be learned. The ability to challenge, inspire, enable, model, and encourage must be demonstrated if managers are to be seen as capable and effective.

7. Effective Delegator:
Trust is an essential element in the relationship between the manager and his or her team. Your trust in others is demonstrated through your actions. Giving team members autonomy to do their jobs as they see fit is empowering. As long as the parameters and timelines are understood, micromanaging is very detrimental so just let them “do their thing”. Just be sure to delegate the right tasks to the right person.

8. Cool Under Pressure:
In a perfect world, projects would be delivered on time, under budget, and with no major problems or obstacles. A leader with a positive attitude will deal with challenges in a timely and appropriate manner. When leaders encounter stressful issues, they are prepared to take them in stride, resolve them, and move on. When this is modeled for the team, they will be more likely to handle things in a similar fashion or come to the manager for suggestions.

9. Team-Builder:
A team builder is essentially a strong, capable person who provides the “glue” that holds the team together so that they can work toward their common goals. In order for a team to become a single cohesive unit, the team leader must understand the process and dynamics necessary for this transformation. He or she must also exercise the appropriate leadership style for each stage of team development. The leader must understand the different team player styles and how to leverage each person’s gifts at the proper time for the proper task.

10.Forward Thinker:
If you want your employees to work hard and be committed to the business, you have to keep them in the loop. Open, honest, clear communication helps foster loyalty and gives employees a sense of pride. It helps them understand how their work contributes to the company’s success and how it fits into the “big picture” that you have laid out for them.

11.Goal Setter: Setting deadlines and goals helps keep employees focused, occupied, and motivated them to do their work. Make sure employees understand their professional growth path in the company and help them to do the things necessary to achieve those goals.

12. Active Observer: It is impossible to know about personality conflicts, lagging productivity, or other problems in the office if you are not paying attention to what is going on. If you notice a change in an employee’s work habits or attitude, try to get to the root of the problem before it starts affecting the rest of your staff. If there are conflicts occurring, they will not go away by themselves, intervention is necessary and it usually falls to the manager to get them straightened out.
The first step in dealing with a problem employee is to identify the source of the trouble. Often, a simple, honest talk with the employee will resolve issues such as occasional tardiness or minor attitude problems. Coaching requires a manager to work one-on-one with problem employees or to assign another employee to work with the employee to overcome their shortcomings. The mentor should provide the employee with feedback as well as solutions for improving their performance. Coaching requires patience and a substantial time investment, but it can help modify an employee’s behavior and ultimately enhance the outcome for the team.
Poor performance is not always due to a lack of skills; rather, the employee may simply be disorganized or sloppy. These habits can usually be corrected with proper guidance if the employee is willing to learn new habits. If performance difficulties relate to a lack of skills, then you will need to consider coaching or additional training.

In some cases, an employee becomes a problem because their skills aren´t compatible with their assigned tasks or regular duties. In such situations, offering the employee additional training or assigning them a different set of tasks is usually the most appropriate course of action.
When you notice that, an employee has made some errors, calmly point out the mistakes to the employee, ask them how they think that happened, how they think the unwanted outcome can be remedied and what other option should they consider if this issue appears again. Then encourage them to go ahead and fix the problem and offer support if they need it. Remember to remain positive and focus on how important the employee’s contribution is to the organization and how their efforts help the team.

13.Active Listener: Employee feedback is critical when managing change. Therefore, holding focus groups with employees is a great way to gauge reactions and monitor the progress of how they are accepting and adapting to the change. You also can encourage employees to provide feedback through email or the company intranet. Communication is the cornerstone to successful change management. Talking to your employees is not a one-time event, and you need to reinforce your message by communicating early and often. In addition, if you listen respectfully to them, they will be more likely to come to you with issues and will listen to you when you are speaking with them.

To be an effective manager you must know yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses, as well as those of the people around you. You must know your objectives and have a clear plan for how you will achieve them. You must build a team of people that share your commitment to achieving those objectives, and you must help each team member to fulfill their potential. When everyone works together toward the common goals they will be more likely to be accomplished.
As the manager, you model the way for your team, so the more positive, calm, and competent you are, and the better you are at effectively communicating with your team, the more success you will all enjoy!