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5 Communication Mistakes New Managers Make

Frustrated in New Job? Part 3 – Communication


Communication skills are not usually  taught, much less monitored for impact on employees. Most new leaders are a little insecure within their new leadership position and this can lead to behaviors that are perceived as either over-assertive or under-assertive. Both impact employees negatively. Lack of experience in certain areas such as engaging in  “difficult conversations” leads to poor execution of standardized procedures such as employee reviews etc.  In our previous posts in the series “Growth Opportunities for New Leaders”,   we discussed  Self-Management and Time Management as two of the  key growth opportunities for new managers.  In this post we’ll discuss communication skills.  Here are 5 communication mistakes that new supervisors make.

  1. Lack of focus on the team.  New managers often have not yet found their comfort level and they tend to revert back to their default communication style. They might retreat to an introverted position, not showing up enough on the floor, or they might micro manage to the point of annoying experienced staff.  Distancing themselves from those they supervise leads to misunderstandings at best,  increased uncertainty and poor leadership in the worst case. Siding with team members and an “us against them” attitude also proves divisive and leads to conflict.  Antidote:  frequent team meetings where the manager invites discussion, invites questions and comments develops open lines of communication.
  2. Failing to offer and solicit feedback.  Employees need to know where they stand with their manager. Hidden agendas and unclear expectations have never motivated anyone to work harder or smarter. As uncomfortable as it is to hear about one’s shortcomings, better to be clear about where individual improvement is expected and will be rewarded. This is true for both manager and employee.
  3. Delegating without authorizing.  Since time management is always an issue, delegation is important and often appreciated by employees. Problems occur when the delegated task does not come with sufficient authority to follow through to successful completion. Empowering the employee appropriately, combined with follow-up and feedback assures that the employee is set up for success and the task gets done.
  4. Reprimanding employees in the presence of others.  Most of us have early childhood memories of humiliation when teachers or parents failed to honor the old rule “Praise in public, criticize in private”. Everyone wants to keep face and feel respected. Honoring the old rule will keep relationships smooth, while still communicating any important information effectively.
  5. Supervising everyone the same way.  Most teams are a mix of experienced, inexperienced, motivated and less motivated employees. Different management styles are available for these different groups. Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model differentiates 4 different leadership styles: Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating. Being intentional about which leader should use what style with which employee is an art and a science. Experimenting with these skills is what makes the life of a supervisor interesting and in the end, the proof is always in the pudding: how well your team interacts, performs and stays with you is feedback any manager can learn from.

Certain industries such as fast-food franchises expect employee turnover to be as high as 50 to 145 percent – much higher than in the manufacturing sector for example. While in a low paying entry level job, turnover is always expected to be higher.  Most contributors to turnover can be directly related back to management practices. Turnover tends to be higher in environments where employees feel undervalued or ignored or where they feel helpless or unimportant. Clearly, if managers come across as  impersonal, arbitrary, or demanding, there is greater turnover risk. Fortunately, management behavior and communication skills can be trained and improved so that turnover can be kept to a minimum.

How is communication with your employees going for you?  What are some of the barriers? We are looking forward to hearing from you – comments or questions are always welcome.  Here on this blog, you will get commentluv. This is a plugin that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sabine

 

 

 

 

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Time Management #2 Growth Opportunity for New Managers

Frustrated in New Job? Part 2 – 6 Time Management Strategies

Time Control

When I started this series of blog posts about growth opportunities for new managers, I mentioned time management as the #2 biggest opportunity.  Managers working in a business that is already fast paced and somewhat frantic, like fast food franchises for example, find that once they have taken on a new position, their time schedule has become almost unmanageable. The stress level rises, the work/life balance suffers, tempers run short -  there is only one goal: daily survival.

This of course is no way to succeed, even in the short term. Here are 6 time management strategies that I know have worked for some of my clients in the past.

1. Fully step into the new role.

Stop doing your old job. I know – it is comforting to know you can do these tasks well. Fact is, you no longer get paid to do them. Get used to all aspects and expectations of the new job and use your advanced skills from the previous job to help your staff do their work better.

2. Stop procrastinating.

Get honest.  Identify the areas in your new position that you are not yet comfortable with. Decide what/who it takes to support you in mastering these tasks.

3. Step up delegation.

Start moving your staff towards independence by empowering them according to competency.  People will continually draw on you if they are not sure where you stand on allowing them to make decisions. What does it take for you to trust them with this? Training your staff towards self-sufficiency frees you up from time consuming ” hand-holding”.

4. Get your team on the same page.

Allow them to get to know you:  what do they need to know about you that helps them do their job confidently and effectively? What are your expectations? What can they count on from you? What do you want to count on from this team? What are the goals for this team? How do they best support you? Clear expectations reduce time investment, as you don’t need to regurgitate every issue with each team member. More to come on this in one of the next blogs in this series.

5. Prioritize.

What do you want to accomplish in this position for the next month, 6 months, 1 year? What do you have to put in place to achieve these goals? What will you not tolerate? Who needs to know? What boundaries need to be set? What conversations must be had? What habits will you change?

6. Schedule clear time slots.

If you over plan your day, you inevitably will run behind, and eventually run yourself ragged. Classic time management theory advises that no more than 60% of the day should get scheduled. This practice allows for unforeseen events, running overtime and having time available for special projects.

The day of a busy manager has many kinds of  “time eaters” – many times we no longer feel  in control of our time. This is the first indication that attention to time management ought to be on your agenda.

Time Eaters can be our own ineffective habits, and some of the questions above may help you.  Other time eaters can be employees, peers, even your own manager - boundaries need to be discussed.

So when look at your day now – who is in control? You or your defaulting schedule? What will it take to get under control? Do you remember the last time you had that feeling of being on top of things?

Tell us how time management works for you, or what your challenges are – we know the solutions are often not easy to implement. Here on this blog, you will get commentluv. This is a plugin that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sabine

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Self-Management #1 Growth Opportunity for New Managers

Frustrated in New Job? Part 2 – Self Management

Leadership Self-Management

In my previous blog post on the new series Frustrated in New Job? 4 Growth Opportunities for New Managers, -  I named self-management as the #1 growth opportunity for new managers. Demonstrating professionalism and the corresponding behaviors are critical to success for young or inexperienced managers – so it helps to train how to self-manage.  Supporting leaders here will show strong impact on performance of the individual and their team.

The areas involved  can range from setting boundaries,  execution of appropriate professional behavior, managing moods and tempers, engaging in gossip,  and time management – amongst others.

Picture this: Susan and Jenn have been working in the same store for several months. They are peers – frequently working similar shifts in a fast food franchise. They have developed a friendship, and they often take their breaks together and chat. Naturally, the topic of issues in the store comes up, and they also talk about fellow employees. Sometimes they laugh, other times they vent their frustrations about other staff in the store. Since Susan has been in the job for a while and has proven herself to be a capable and talented employee, she applies for and is promoted to the position of assistant store manager.

Where are the professional boundaries? Susan has stepped into a new position and needs to step into completely new behaviors – no one has prepared her for it. How will existing relationships with peers or her boss change? How will this new position and the new responsibilities change their behaviors and their accountabilities? Is everyone clear? What new actions and routines are expected of Susan in her new position?

Then Susan’s stress increases. Her husband gets into an accident and  Susan has a hard time managing the stress of worrying, caring for him plus performing in her new position. She feels she needs to offload some of the stress by confiding in Jenn and a couple of the other staff members she has known for a while. Pretty soon the gossip mill is active and word is getting around that Susan is being very moody and emotional.  Her boss tells her that several employees feel she is becoming ineffective in her role and not able to maintain professional behavior under stress. Susan is furious, not to mention extremely hurt. How is it that could no one could understand her situation?

Several pointers and perspectives are helpful in self-management skills:

  • New positions need new role understanding and new behavior. Discussions what this new role demands from Susan should be arranged with the boss as well as, to a lesser degree with her former peers. Transparency around her new duties and accountabilities will make it easier for everyone to adapt to the change in the management team.
  • Susan needs to get clear on her professional boundaries. What does it look like/sound like/feel like to be a professional in her position? Her manager and/or a coach can help to sort this out. A good start is this question: Whom does Susan consider to be professional? What does the ideal role model look like? Managing tempers and not sharing every emotion may also have another silver lining: not indulging in our most desperate feelings and concentrating on certain everyday tasks at hand can help distracting us a little from the home stresses for a few hours – which can serve as a relief of sorts.
  • New managers frequently revert back to performing some of their old responsibilities, rationalizing that they can do it so much better. This may be true, but it is not what they are paid for. Effective time management is a function of planning plus effective delegation – the art of saying  “no” to tasks that should be done by someone else, and “yes” to new responsibilities, even if there the learning curve is still tough, the tasks feel uncomfortable and the execution is initially clumsy. The “muscle” will only get stronger with exercise!

There is much more to self-management work, but I’d love to hear from you.   What are you experiencing? We welcome your comments and insights,  as always! Here on this blog, you will get commentluv. This is a plugin that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment.

Until next time,

Sabine

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Frustrated in New Job? 4 Growth Opportunities for New Managers

Especially in fast paced and high turn-over businesses, such as fast food restaurants, new managers are expected to hit the ground running. The industry does well in the area of systems and processes training, but often falls short in training for leadership development skills. Experience in the industry is seen as the most important prerequisite to advancement. The truth is that understanding and stepping into new role competencies is a challenge for most leaders, and smart franchise owners support their new leaders early in the game.

Did you know that the most common reason food franchises fail is poor management? Bad management is like a virus – it spreads…quickly. Disgruntled employees can affect customer satisfaction, employee turn-over, staff morale and reduce productivity.

Thankfully it is not all that difficult to identify patterns in the leadership development needs of leaders in new positions. I have dealt with numerous leaders at different levels, and I see similar issues emerge as recurring challenges for these managers. Here are four of the most common ones:

1.       Self-management – Young managers in particular need to learn to demonstrate appropriate professional behavior. This could include gossip,  keeping boundaries, and managing moods and tempers, amongst others.

2.       Time-management – A new position usually comes with new duties and new time parameters. The new learning curve demands an additional time investment. Effective delegation also often does not come easily, at least until the individual is secure in their role execution.

3.       Communication – These skills are usually not taught, much less monitored for impact on employees. Insecurities within the new leadership position can lead to behavior that is either over assertive or under-assertive – both impact employees negatively. Procrastination of “difficult conversations” leads to poor execution of standardized procedures such as employee reviews etc.

4.       Team development – It’s tough to show up strongly as a new team leader when you are still insecure in the new role, yet strong team-ability skills will increase productivity levels quickly. Thankfully these skills are teachable and results can be achieved fairly fast.

There is so much more to say on each of those four subjects, so watch for my next blogs – I will get into more detail on each of them.

It is easy to promote someone who does their job well  - but how often do we monitor how well they do with all their new responsibilities, and more importantly, how effective are we at supporting them? What happens in your organization? How do you support your new leaders in their transition? I’d love to hear back – please leave a comment here on the blog or drop us a note at Integra Leadership and tell us what works for you! On this blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a plug in that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave a comment!

Sabine

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