You could spend years at a company feeling like an effective member of a team, be promoted to management and all of a sudden feel like your coworkers don’t view you the same way anymore. While your relationship has changed, your communication should only improve. If you feel like your leadership isn’t connecting to your coworkers, there are a few things you can do to change the dynamic between you and your colleagues.
Seek Further Education
The basis of any good manager is a good education. If you’ve been promoted through years of on-the-job experience, you may not have earned your bachelor’s degree or perhaps you got one in an unrelated subject. Earn a bachelor degree in management and study from home to learn more effective management techniques.
You and your classmates will study the theories of leadership and design applications of leadership in theoretical situations or at your current place of work. You’ll discuss the latest techniques and software available to managers. You can also discuss communication issues with your colleagues, both hypothetical and actual, and with your professors when relevant to the coursework.
Let People Speak
Sometimes employees feel like their voices aren’t being heard. Hold a regular meeting where people are free to air grievances related to how a certain project is going or how the office is run in general. As manager, it’s your job to make sure the discussion doesn’t get one-sided or accusatory, but you should make employees feel comfortable laying everything on the table during these meetings. Come up with solutions to problems as a group by brainstorming together and voting on different responses to each problem as a team so employees don’t feel like you’re mandating changes.
Change How You Instruct
One of the grievances you might hear in your regular meetings relates to how well you communicate instructions. Ask for feedback and be open to change how you present your instructions. Maybe your employees feel instructions need to be in writing, for example, so they can continuously consult their to-do list and stay on track of deadlines. Perhaps they want a demonstration or an example scenario of what they’ve been asked to do. Maybe they want regular check-ins with you to discuss their progress and hear feedback before they’ve finished.
While it can be difficult to offer individual instruction if your company is large, you can at least find what works for the majority of employees. You might even consider appointing a head to represent each department. These department heads will be in charge of communicating instructions to their team to decrease the number of people for whom you need to tailor the method of communication.
Shut Down Too Much Personal Discussion
While an all-work, no-play environment can backfire and prove too stressful and bland for many employees, you don’t want fun to dominate communication when there’s work to be done. Whenever you hear employees engaging in discussions of a personal nature during work hours for more than a brief moment, re-direct their attention to the task at hand. Devote a little time before and after meetings to small talk, but ask that they focus when meetings begin.
The same holds true for your own discussions. Employees who engage in too much personal discussion with you because they used to be your colleague may be unaware of the new manager-employee boundary; muddle this line, and your employees are less likely to pay attention when you issue instructions. Keep your personal interactions brief — ask about their families, for example, but avoid hearing them rant about personal issues — and you can focus on communicating your work effectively.
Hold Training Seminars
Whenever you and your employees have decided to change how you communicate, offer a training seminar. For example, if you’ve decided to work with a project management software to alert employees of due dates and provide a central location for discussion related to a project, walk employees through the use of the software the in the weeks before launch. Don’t assume that everyone will adjust instantly to big changes. Work together as a team to make transitions as smooth as possible.
CBS News reports only 10 percent of managers are effective at communicating with employees. While the majority of managers keep busy, according to the study, there’s little point in leading if the people being lead don’t connect with the person in charge. Whether you set out to be a manager or your promotion took you by surprise, change how you approach your career by learning the most effective way to lead.