Have you just been saddled with the sole responsibility of managing your team for the first time?
Have no fear, you are not alone.
As a First-Time Manager (FTM), you might be faced with challenges of establishing yourself as a leader and getting work done.
In a survey by the Center for Creative Leadership, Communication accounted for 17.6% of the challenges faced by First-Time Managers.
Source: Center for Creative Leadership
Corporate organizations recruit young professionals from colleges and universities and put them straight into management positions.
As a recruit, you come onboard with new perspectives, fresh energy but no experience in the corporate work culture, yet you feel the need to participate and create impact at your workplace.
Why do young professionals face challenges to work as a leader at their workplaces you might ask?
The challenges are sometimes there as a result of the involvement of senior colleagues or influential people in the organization.
You find yourself being too careful and torn between compromising yourself as a credible leader and been perceived as rude when you express yourself, thus jeopardizing your career.
This situation is frustrating for young professionals because they expect recognition and want to be heard at work.
Sometimes, First-Time Managers feel that they are not a good fit for the job.
The key approach is to handle these difficult situations without emotional sentiments.
Young professionals need to build relationships and master their communication skills so that they can excel at their work without being emotional.
Also, thirty-eight out of a hundred highly effective communicators, were five times more likely to be effective high performers than the minimally-effective communicators.
Source: Project Management Institute Inc
Here are the three communication habits and strategies that will help First-Time Managers build strong communication skills
- Preparation for difficult conversations
- Analyse and trace the history of the entire situation to understand and identify the exact reasons making the situation difficult.
- Isolate the issue from the person. Make plans to address the issue during the discussion with the person.
- Never use a personal attack or have a confrontation in a public place.
- Always talk to the concerned person. Never discuss the issue with third parties.
- Plan ahead for the discussion. Set a time and a place to have an open, impartial conversation to help you understand the other person’s point of view.
- Always get feedback from your team members and make sure it is anonymous.
- Conducting the difficult conversation
- Don’t be abusive or accuse the other person directly. Keep your cool and learn to control yourself even if the situation seems to be getting out of hand.
- State your point of view with confidence and humility. Mutual trust and respect are must-haves for successful conversations.
- Use humour during the discussion. Humour is the best antidote for stress in any situation.
- Maintain a positive attitude and body language.
- Good communicators ensure that they convey their message clearly and listen to others point of view carefully.
- If the other person makes a strong criticism, listen to it with an open mind while maintaining proper eye contact.
- Be humble and state your points clearly. Accept your mistakes, if necessary and follow up with an apology.
- Conversation should be based on the facts. No reference should be made to any gossips and rumours.
- Weak words like hopefully, perhaps, sort of, kind of and gap filling words such as um, ah, you know and like should be avoided.
- Speak slowly and pause during discussions.
- Conclusion of a difficult conversation
- Be prepared conclusions where you either agree or agree to disagree. Don’t be abusive if you disagree, with the other person’s point of view.
- Respect and value the opinion of your team and find a middle ground for the discussion without bias.
- Always thank the other person for joining the discussion. Be courteous at all times.
- Set up a meeting at a mutually convenient time and place so you will both feel comfortable. Conduct the conversation based on your plan, but bear in mind that the result might not be what you expect.
- Make a note on what went right and what went wrong during the discussion. Make plans for another round of meetings.
Note that these strategies cannot be implemented in a single day.
First-Time Managers should therefore practice them with colleagues and seniors until they become a part of your habit.
You will soon find that you can build rapport & healthy relationships within your work place easily, with more meaningful conversation in any difficult situation.
Soon, you will become a respectable leader at your workplace.
What communication strategy have you adopted in your career, share it with us.