Karen has been a supervisor of the nursing team at a local
community clinic for nearly a year. Though her medical skills and experience
are exemplary, she has struggled with her employee relations skills. Recently,
her employees have started to slack in some of their admin-related duties and
they have begun to show a lack of enthusiasm in daily tasks and special
Unsure why this lack of engagement was occurring, Karen
spoke with her manager and was informed that her employees have been increasingly
frustrated with her micromanagement and demands for perfection, resulting in her
team feeling that their work was not appreciated or valued. Karen was surprised
by this and was shocked that no one had come to her to voice their concerns
with her management style.
Karen’s manager realized that she should have spoken with
Karen much sooner in an attempt to coach her on effective communication and
managerial techniques to ensure less discord and more productivity within her
team. There is so often a focus as managers to coach and correct the behaviors
of our employees, but it is important to not overlook those subordinate
managers who those employees interact with on a daily basis.
Mid-level managers are often the lifeline between employees
and upper management (those who make the rules and set the expectations). These
supervisors need to be regularly communicated with about the expectations of
their jobs and provided with feedback regarding their performance as an
individual and as a leader of their team. As a result of a lack of this, Karen’s
team was disconnected and there was a general feeling of frustration amongst
the staff members.
Take the time to meet with each manager individually to go
over these expectations, to offer both positive and constructive feedback, and
to allow for two-way communication. Provide them with the opportunity to convey
to you their needs and goals for their team and work together to come up with a
plan to help them achieve these objectives in ways that prove to be mutually
beneficial to their personal development, to the team, and the organization as
Making this type of regular and effective communication with
your managers a priority can snowball (in a good way!) and can lead to improved
job satisfaction, fosters feelings of mutual respect and trust, can enhance
positive work environments, and encourages team collaboration and camaraderie.
Many years ago as a “newbie” in the professional world, I went to lunch with my boss and a co-worker. During that lunch, my supervisor and my co-worker spent most of the conversation talking negatively about all of the other employees in our division. Even at my young age, I sat there stunned by the gossip and negative talk. The thought that kept going through my head during this lunch was “What do they say about me when I am not around?” What I learned from this lunch was two-fold; first, don’t say anything negative around my coworkers and secondly, that negative talk about others only harms communication and trust in the long run.
My former boss and coworker were far from impeccable with their words that day and as a result they harmed the trust and relationship that I was building as a new employee. Being impeccable with your communication and your words means that you realize your words can build up or tear down. For example, when you need to discipline your employees, think about how you view the discipline. Is it a way for you to retaliate to your employee because they did not perform as expected, or rather do you view the discipline as providing your employee a path to success? The latter mindset leads you to approach the discipline as a building exercise rather than the tearing down of an individual.
What does Impeccable Communication really mean? The word “impeccable” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as being “in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.” This meaning of impeccable communication translates to us as managers as a need to hold our words (written, verbal, and non-verbal) to the highest standards of quality. This requirement is achieved by our understanding that our words have power.
While no one is perfect with their words and we all have faltered with negative talk, we must constantly improve our communication skills by seeking and eliminating negative and harmful words. A good leader seeks to inspire and promote wellbeing in the workplace, not tear down and manage by fear. Managing by fear results in a leader who doesn’t have enough information, is unapproachable, and as a result, has poor performing employees.
My challenge to you this week is to try to eliminate negative words and gossip from your communication for one week and see how it will impact those around you.
It’s the month of February and with Valentine’s Day looming, relationships are a force to be reckoned with. Just as they are in your personal life, establishing and maintaining successful relationships in the workplace is an important aspect in the success of your career. (more…)