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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,