Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To Say or Not to Say is NOT the Question - How to Say Is

It seems more people are contacting me these days to improve their managerial communication skills or they know someone who needs to (like it's becoming an "on-the-job" problem!) and they get referred to me. Workplace communication problems run the gamut from the "absence of" when there is a problem to blowing one's top. Either way the consequence has both a lateral and longitudinal effect meaning there is an impact on the employee-manager relationship laterally, and longitudinally the entire office or department suffers because of a low-grade "fever" of malcontent or aggravation permeating the atmosphere.
Sometimes it is something minor, especially in the case of a new manager who simply doesn't yet possess the managerial skills either learned on the job or because they had no training in advance.
For example, the administrative director of a nonprofit organization here in Miami learned that one of her long time employees had been fired due to performance and logistical issues even though she was well-liked and respected. Budgeting cutbacks and the employee's inability to adapt to workplace changes proved no longer to be a good fit for her nor her department. Someone else was hired and would be starting shortly.
My client reported she didn't know how to communicate this firing to the rest of the staff. Her thoughts were to announce this at a regular staff meeting but she was afraid she might embarrass this employee. Not knowing what to do and feeling guilty about the firing - even though she understood the rationale for it - she avoided the whole thing for a couple of days, including this employee.
Now to some this may sound like a small thing but this kind of undercurrent due to non-communicated messages goes on in the workplace all the time!
What should she do, she wondered? I suggested something simple: "Why not ask her how she would like the staff to be informed?" You would think I had just handed down the Ten Commandments.
This allowed my client to begin a conversation with her employee which led to a more satisfying and meaningful interaction between them.



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