4.1 Communicating with Your Employees
As we discussed in the Communicating with Peers module, conflict naturally arises in the workplace, and there is no better breeding ground for it than on teams made up of people who bring different approaches and perspectives to the table. Communicate your openness to discuss conflict through verbal statements and particularly monitor your nonverbal behaviors, expressions and gestures during this time. I hope that you've learned some new techniques or become more aware of how knowing your audience in the workplace can help you apply some useful and effective communication strategies.
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Moving into a people manager role is often a rite of passage in an organization. An individual has been rewarded for their work, and invited to lead others. What got you into this role should serve you well in your new role, right? Not necessarily. In our session today I’m going to advocate that you evaluate your existing communication approach. And after our session, consider where you might want to modify it when leading others. Managers who have direct reports, meaning they are formally someone’s manager in an organization, can find themselves ill-equipped to manage the multiple communication styles on a team. By the way, if you don’t have direct reports I suggest you stay with us. Try applying some of the techniques in this section to a team as many of them can be adapted to collaborative work teams or to project teams. Throughout our modules we’ve talked about the importance of connecting through communication, making it about others. When it comes to your direct reports your ability to relate to them gives you the greatest opportunity to effectively communicate. It’s critically important that you understand, who you’re direct reports are, and their preferences for communication. Once you know this, you can apply any of the strategies that we’ve discussed. Keep in mind that your communication approach may need to shift depending on the geographic location of the team. If your team works together in person, focus on verbal communication techniques. If your team is located virtually or is blended, make sure you’re focusing on virtual techniques such as time zone consideration and meeting preferences such as preferences for web cam or conference call. So that everyone feels included. Lastly, the larger your team, the greater the likelihood that cross cultural norms will need to be considered. So pull up your readings from the first module as a refresher. Now, if you currently have a large team of direct reports, you may be thinking, gosh, how am I supposed to incorporate all of these nuances preferences into my communication with each team member individually, as a group and get all my other work done? It can be tricky and that’s why I recommend practice, practice. Of all the audiences we’ve discussed in our modules, communicating with multiple direct reports is the one that requires the most investment. And commitment to practicing techniques until you feel comfortable and see results. Two obstacles that managers often find themselves facing when managing direct reports is communicating timely and managing conflict on the team. Have you ever heard a comment like this, I sent the proposal to my boss for feedback but she’s been sitting on it for two weeks. Your direct reports are often counting on you in order to move their work forward. And value the communication from you that offers them feedback or sets direction. If you’re a busy manager and find that you’re having a difficult time communicating and connecting with your direct reports, invest in some time management strategies. An improvement in time management often correlates directly to the improvement of communication. As we discussed in the Communicating with Peers module, conflict naturally arises in the workplace, and there is no better breeding ground for it than on teams made up of people who bring different approaches and perspectives to the table. As a manager you’ll be faced with managing conflict. Communicate your openness to discuss conflict through verbal statements and particularly monitor your nonverbal behaviors, expressions and gestures during this time. If your manager said she was open to discussing conflict but had her hands on her hips and was sighing and nearly rolling her eyes, would you believe her? Keep both your verbal and nonverbal communication neutral and objective and focus on facts and data. Start by assessing if the team members can resolve the conflict on their own. If you need to step in use the steps covered in our Communicating With Peers module. If a conflict arises with a team member who works virtually. The best approach to minimize complexity and further conflict, is to work through the conflict in person, if your organizational budgets allow for travel. If that is not practical in your organization, leverage technology, and have a face to face conversation on web cam, so as much two way communication as possible can occur. As always, keep in mind that conflict can arise due to differences of opinion as well as cross-cultural norms. So, check to see if that may be having an impact. We’ve covered a lot of ground in our four modules. I hope that you’ve learned some new techniques or become more aware of how knowing your audience in the workplace can help you apply some useful and effective communication strategies. I wish you well on your continued journey in communication, and wherever you are, enjoy your day or evening.
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