It is imperative that the manager demonstrate communication skills which make the employees feel like they are important, their ideas or concerns are understood, and that the manager wants to hear from the employee. The critical path to achieving these goals is in the process of feedback. When speaking with an employee, it is most important that the follow steps are taken: 1. The employee states a concern/idea 2. The manager repeats this back to the employee/customer using different words to make sure there is understanding. 3. The employee/customer restates the idea if not correct. 4.
The manager is then able to take action and properly respond. This process ensures complete participation and reduces the opportunities for mistakes. It also opens the possibility for innovative solutions and new ideas. This process is acknowledged by Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn when striving for the front line position (Takeuchi): “He not only had the social skills to listen to people and win them over to his ideas, but he also dared to lift the lid on the corporate hierarchy and encourage people at all levels of the organization to offer suggestions to operational, organizational, and even interpersonal problems even if that created conflict.
People were no longer suppressed, so solutions to the company’s problems bubbled up. ” Additionally, when using written communication, the manager should follow these simple guidelines. When sitting down to write the memo, letter, or email, the manager should first answer the following questions for themselves (Rue 45): 1. Why am I writing this document? 2. What action do I want the reader to take after reading it? 3. Who will read this document? 4. How much does the reader already know about the topic? 5. How will the reader use the document? 6. Are there any special sensitivities I should be aware of?
7. What is the main message I want to convey in this document? 8. How will I support that message? After completing the document, the manager should walk to the coffee machine, get a quick drink, and then return to the work. After this small break, the document should be reviewed, examining it once again to guarantee the above concerns have been addressed and the meaning of the message is clear. It is very important to avoid offensive materials and language in written communications. DEMONSTRATING EFFECTIVE ORIENTATION AND TRAINING METHODS IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY FOR TEAMS
The manager’s first responsibility for improving the productivity of teams is to focus on team structure. First of all, are the key players for accomplishing a task represented on the team? Is each member needed full-time? Does the team have the authority or means to pull in additional resources as needed? It is important for the manager to understand that the people are the most valuable asset. Just as it is important to have enough people on a team, too many people will also hinder team performance. Communication with the team is also fundamental for success. This has many attributes.
The manger should make sure the task of the team is clearly understood before the team begins. As the team project undergoes its kick-off meetings, it is important that the manager listens for the special needs of the team. Also during this time, the planning of the project should be done and documents created to help understand if the project is moving forward as desired. Specific goals for the team should be written down and benchmarks created to measure the performance of the team. Meetings should be held on a regular basis so that the manager stays informed of any problems within the team.
Additionally, during these meetings or at the close of the project it is critically important for the manager to ask for feedback from the team members themselves as to how the team could be improved. CONDUCTING PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS Informal performance appraisals occur throughout the entire business relationship, whenever the manager comments on an employee’s work (Rue 186). In most cases, this feedback is only given when there is a problem. It is critical for managers to provide positive feedback for their employees in an informal setting as well.
When going to talk with an employee about their work, keep the following questions in mind (Rue 195): 1. What are the specific good points on which you will compliment the employee? 2. What are the specific improvement points you intend to discuss? 3. What reactions do you anticipate? How do you intend to handle these reactions? 4. Can you support your performance appraisal with adequate facts? 5. What specific help or corrective action do you anticipate offering? 6. What is your approach for gaining acceptance of your suggested corrective action? 7. What follow-up action do you have in mind?
It is very important during an informal appraisal to keep emotions under control. Asking these questions first will help the manager to communicate more effectively with the employee. Also, always look for things you can compliment your employees on. Never hesitate to comment on the good. In fact, turn your attention away from looking for problems to looking at how employees are creating solutions. Formal performance appraisals require time for preparation. Once again, ask yourself the above questions. It is best to perform a formal appraisal twice a year.
Additionally, if informal appraisals are occurring on a regular basis, the information shared in the formal appraisal will not be a surprise. In fact, none of the items discussed during the formal appraisal should really surprise the employee. If this is the case, and effective relationship has not yet been established. The employee should be shown the documents created for the purposes of a formal appraisal. During the course of the appraisal, the employee should be allowed time for their own comments and any corrections as they see it. This should be noted in the formal appraisal.
At the close of the formal appraisal, it is important that the goals for the employee’s improvement are clearly outlined and established for the future. RESOLVING CONFLICT It is important for the manager to keep a close understanding and feel for the relationships within their department. In order to achieve this, it is important that the manager circulates around the department on a daily basis. If the manager stays close to their employees and sensitive to change, they will be able to detect conflict, even in its earliest stages. Conflict can start over something very minor.
It is in the best interests of the company for interpersonal, personality based conflicts to be resolved as quickly as possible. These types of conflicts can create a hostile work environment which can become toxic. One of the best methods for handling this type of conflict is a structured confrontation. In this situation, the two parties are brought together. The complaints of the first person are stated, after which the other has an opportunity to respond. During this process, the manager remains engaged, controlling the flow of the conversation. The following guidelines should be followed (Rue 200):
1. Before the confrontation begins, review the past actions of the participants, and clarify the issues causing the conflict. 2. Encourage the participants to communicate freely. They should get their personal feelings out in the open and should not hold back grievances. 3. Don’t try to place blame. This only polarizes the participants. 4. Don’t surprise either party with confrontations for which either party is not prepared. 5. Don’t attack sensitive areas of either party that have nothing to do with the specific conflict. 6. Don’t argue aimlessly. 7. Identify areas of mutual agreement.
8. Emphasize mutual benefits to both parties. 9. Don’t jump into specific solutions too quickly. 10. Encourage all of the participants to examine their own biases and feelings. Often through this process, interpersonal conflicts can be effectively managed. It is the specific role of the manager to interface with other departments within the organization. In managing inter-department conflicts, the true skills of the manager are required. Once again, similar skills as those above should be employed, however, not with the managers of the other departments.
It is important that the manager pretends to be the other department manager and tries to understand their needs and concerns prior to engagement in conflict resolution. Often, departments will differ in their goals and solutions to problems. When resources are involved, there will often be disagreements. It is important for the manager to remember that other department’s goals are often equally valid. It is most important when experiencing conflict with other departments that the manager is looking for good suggestions and common ground. It is not always possible to have the solution one person desires.
However, often the solutions reached by a group can be much more effective and comprehensive than one reached by an individual. It is important to maintain flexibility and a desire to understand whenever handling conflict (Blum and Wall). IMPROVING EMPLOYEE RELATIONS As a manager, you are expected to carry out the work and employment ethic of the company. These policies are formalized and you should be very familiar with them. In fact, it is best policy for managers to review the employee handbooks annually and be familiar with the proper processes for handling employee relations.
The following is a list of guidelines managers should seek to follow when dealing with employee issues (Rue 388): 1. Be familiar with the law, union contract (if applicable), and past practices of the organization as they affect disciplinary decisions. 2. Maintain adequate records. 3. Investigate rule infractions and mitigating circumstances. 4. Keep the union informed (if applicable). 5. Administer discipline as soon as possible. 6. Precede formal discipline with a warning. 7. Be consistent among employees. 8. Relate the penalty to the offense rather than the person.
9. Administer discipline in private. 10. Warn the employee of the results of a future violation. These guidelines will help to prevent many of the pitfalls of employee relations. Often the employee is aware that the rule has been broken. Many times they did not desire for it to happen, but it is the manager’s role to communicate the needs and desires of the organization and to communicate in both directions. When handling employee relations, it is most important to balance between company objectives and individual circumstances.
An employee must be happy in the workplace to continue to be productive. When there is a discipline problem, the manager can make the situation worse by aggressively confronting the employee or allowing the problem to exist without comment over a period of time, followed by a harsh reaction later. It is the responsibility of the manager to explain verbally and to demonstrate to the employee via the employee handbook or other document, what is expected of the employee and what company policy they have broken. Often, employee relations fail because the issues are made personal.
Attendance issues, impropriety, offences – these will all occur within the workplace at some time or another. Rather than viewing these incidents as wholly negative experiences, the manager can present these as opportunities to the employee to grow in their own professional life. Sensitivity on the part of the manager is key to improving employee relations. BIBLIOGRAPHY Blum, Michael W and Wall, James A. Jr. HRM: Managing Conflicts Within the Firm. Rue. (2004) Supervision; 8th Edition. Takeuchi, Hirotaka. Go for the Gemba.
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