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Congratulations; you’re promoted. You got a new title, maybe more money, a few perks (does anyone still get those?) and definitely more responsibility. Hopefully, your job description outlines what you are responsible for. Good job descriptions may describe your responsibility for planned communications, but most will not talk about managing the unintentional communications.
A management position is like an amplifier; a manager’s small, routine actions have a much more intense impact on an employee. Management is a great responsibility…and an even greater opportunity.
Because you are a manager, you are always communicating…and your team is always dialed in on your channel! They will infer how things are going in the company based on your mood after a manager’s meeting. Forget to say good morning to the wrong person, and they may accelerate their job search. Compliment an employee’s gold necktie, and count the number of gold ties you see at work over the next two weeks. There is no escape; as a manager, you are always communicating, whether you want to or not. Your interactions with problem employees will make a bad situation worse if you don’t manage the “unintended communication.”
Good leadership education usually starts with self-awareness. It gives you a way to see yourself as others may perceive you. Do you seem happy? Confident? Unconcerned? Menacing? There can be a world of difference between what you intend to communicate and what others are getting from you. Your facial expressions, gestures, physical stature, tone of voice and more communicates information about you before you even say a word.
Since you know more about your impact on your team, be intentional with your communications. If people tend to think you have a stern face, practice your smile until you know how it feels. Practice making small talk if you are a quiet, reserved person. Learn to flex your skills to match the needs of your team in the moment. A lot of employee grievances are based on a history of unintentional communications from managers. Conversely, a lot of productive employees feel good about their jobs because their manager communicates well…and on purpose.
With effective and intentional communication, you can reduce employer risks and make most hr solutions work better.
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