Effective Workplace Communication Helps Align Perceptions with Reality

February 20, 2020 by  

Many of us grew up with the age-old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” We were taught to see past the surface level and look for beauty beyond skin deep. However, our initial judgments often ignore pleasantries when evaluating first impressions. It is part of why dress codes are important in the corporate world. Effective, honest, clear workplace communication helps managers better understand employees and look beyond initial perceptions.
It takes less time to gauge others by how they look than by what they can contribute, but we all know looks can be deceiving. In the workplace, we need to remember that critical evaluation beyond appearances is more than just an issue of manners; it is vital to company success. We might judge others on perceptions but reality brings results at the end of the day.

The tug-of-war between perception and reality can lead to problems of employee efficiency. Robert C. Pozen, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and author of “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours,” wrote for The New York Times about this “hours over results” problem. More efficient employees might find themselves wasting time just to log the same number of hours as their colleagues. What people notice drives us more than realistically evaluating what we have accomplished.
In his book, Pozen criticized hours-based productivity as a remnant of the industrial age that is ineffective in motivating modern professionals. Playing the game of watching the clock to judge when it is time to quit working conflicts with the specific demands of each task or project. Long meetings are an example of when more is actually less. After too long, attention spans begin to waiver and a meeting can dwindle into unproductivity. It is best to use agendas and assign individual tasks with specific deadlines.

Taking a more regimented approach to structuring meetings requires increased communication. Leaders have to plan ahead, communicate with employees before the meeting and follow-up with individuals after the meeting. Following a communication process will help keep perceptions in check with reality.
Sometimes efficiency comes from looking for big ideas, not the intricate details as when reading long articles and reports. Communicate with your employees the purpose behind what you send them to read. Employees should also ask questions about materials and determine their relevancy.

When you want to judge an employee’s workplace efficiency, look for objective measures of success. These can help managers move beyond their perceptions. Many managers prefer certain employees simply because they worked long hours, but had little substance to show for all of their time spent at the office. Workplace communication should occur on multiple levels, including knowing how to best manage each employee. Managers need to recognize potential and help employees to fulfill that potential through support, encouragement and even training.

Even if you choose to pursue results over hours, you still run the risk of perception overruling the reality of your efficiency as an employee. Communication drives employee performance. Managers and employees should work together to define efficiency by ranking tasks and taking objective measures to determine the particular priorities of their office. Efficiency is not the same as being quick. An efficient employee may still have to work overtime on some projects.
Assessments can help take some of the guesswork out of communicating with employees. The projects employees produce should be the real test of their effectiveness. Workplace communication takes more effort than relying on only our perceptions. We run the risk of destroying employee efficiency if we forget the lessons we learned as children to look beyond the surface.

Effective and successful managers are excellent communicators because they have learned what motivates their team members, what concerns them, what particular skills they have, areas where improvement could occur and are able to mentor employees or offer them appropriate training opportunities to enhance the skills they have and gain new ones. They have learned this because they are excellent active listeners, accountable for what they do and encourage employees to ask questions and contribute ideas that will make projects more efficient and everyone more productive. When they manage in this way their team will be better able to complete projects on time in an efficient and creative manner and all common goals can be achieved as well. In addition, modelling this sort of behaviour encourages the rest of the team to be honest and clear in their communication with each other and that makes teamwork easier.

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!

5 Tips for When Managers Make Mistakes

June 1, 2015 by  

 

When an effective manager makes an ineffective decision, he/she must learn from that mistake and move forward. We are human so will make mistakes, they are opportunities to learn and must be treated as such!

 

Here are five good choices to help you get back up on the horse after a bad choice has been made:
1. Accept Responsibility
Don’t try to blame anyone else for your mistake. Effective leaders willingly accept personal responsibility with class. Team leaders, whose team members may have erred, still take responsibility for their team after they have examined what when wrong, how to fix it and how to avoid repeating it….they learned from that experience.
2. Apologize and Explain
Once you acknowledge the mistake, bad judgment, or poor choice, apologize and explain your actions. An explanation is not an excuse, but rather a setting forth of the series of events leading up to your sincere apology. It is important to admit your mistakes and to let everyone know how you are moving past the issue. People understand that you can’t change the past, so even if they are upset with you for a while, they will recognize your integrity and willingness to be accountable.
3. Take the Lessons Learned to Heart
Once you have rectified the error you made as best as possible, tread lightly and carefully when considering your next steps. The important thing to remember is what went wrong and what other choices you have to exercise in a future similar situation. Make the best choice possible and, if it also fails, explore other options to rectify the outcome. Again, these can be teaching moments for everyone involved.
4. Keep Going
Make the best of a bad situation and push forward. Put the bad decision in perspective in the context of the whole. Keep making good decisions, and ultimately people will forget the bad ones.
5. Focus on the Present
Learn from the past and don’t dwell on it. There’s nothing you can do about it now, so focus on the present and move on.
The only people who never make bad decisions are those who make no decisions at all. Every great event in human history involved someone taking a risk, and the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. When you do make a mistake, handle it with dignity, take responsibility, and learn from what happened. Then, keep taking those calculated risks….that is how we gain new knowledge and make discoveries.

Remember, we would not have electricity, airplanes or the technological devices we have today if those inventors had not been curious and brave enough to overcome all their mistakes, learn from them and keep trying other approaches.