New Manager Handbook: Effective Communication

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As a team leader you need to explain strategic decisions and champion them with the rest of the organisation. You will also have increased exposure to stakeholders outside the people you work with, and need to communicate with them clearly and logically. Here are some tips to help you manage this like a pro!

Structured Problem Solving

If you are dealing with a complex issue, draw an issue tree to help solve it and aid communication. This will: increase your understanding of the issue; make it easier to discuss with others; identify the major drivers; prioritise actions and further analysis. Issue trees rely on three principles:

  1. Hierarchy: The problem space should be broken down in layers
  2. Mutually Exclusive: Each sub-issue can only belong to one group
  3. Collectively Exhaustive: Each layer should cover 100% of the problem space. i.e. adding all items at one layer together should equal the layer above

Make Clear Recommendations
Use Problem, Insight, Action to prioritising action and explaining your rationale.

  • Problem: The top issue or opportunity you are facing
  • Insight: The analysis that identifies the most effective course of action
  • Action: What needs to be done in practical terms

Use Hierarchical Recommendations to structure complex recommendations.

  • Build a one line summary of the action to be taken
  • Support this by 3-4 lines of reasoning – the rationale for why this governing thought is the right answer
  • Prepare  evidence – a body of facts and analysis for the thinking

New Manager Handbook: Developing Your Team

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Good leaders develop teams to upskill them, increase their capabilities, and keep them motivated. Supporting the continued growth of your team is far more important than being technically excellent. Overall, supporting your team members’ development involves:

  • Understanding their career vision
  • Giving candid feedback
  • Coaching high performers
Understand the Vision

Having a clearly defined career vision has significant benefits for both an individual and the company. It develops their intrinsic motivation and gives makes it clear which skills they should work on in the immediate future.

As a manager, you should be aware of the following when deciphering someone’s intrinsic goals: be honest and open in your approach; ask people for several routes they could see their career taking and dig to find real aspirations; understanding someone’s career gives you insight into their future motivation.

Reflect on what is important to you

It takes time to understand and unearth what is really important to an individual. Keeping reflecting on the below questions, talk them over with trusted peers and mentors, and you should start to recognise some patterns.

  • Who are the people that you admire most? Why?
  • If you appeared in a magazine in the future, what the article to be about
  • What are your proudest achievements? Why this achievement?
  • If you overheard people speaking about you, what would you hope they say?
  • Imagine looking back on your career in 10 years time. How have you acted, and what are you glad you did?

Give Feedback

Feedback is the easiest way to support one’s development goals, and high achievers often often actively seek this. View your feedback as a way of supporting team members’ career progression and an excellent way to stretch top performers.

Reflect on what is important to you

  • Give feedback with the intention of helping that person grow. If you hold back honest feedback, you are holding back their progress.
  • Prioritise what you see as the biggest gap that person has towards developing towards their potential.
  • Feedback should be a two-way process. Make sure you ask for honest feedback from your team, your boss, your clients etc

You’re the Coach!

Coaching is a technique for developing your team members by asking them open questions to develop their resourcefulness. In contrast, mentoring can guide them on the best way to approach problems. As a people manager you will often employ both techniques, but it’s worth carving out time for coaching, it’s that sets apart great managers.

When to coach people

Coaching takes more time and energy, however, people learn much better by thinking through the options themselves and then committing to them. Coaching is a great asset when developing someone’s potential!

How to coach people

  1. Asking open questions: Open questions result in a fuller answer. Questions that start “how” or “what” work well, whilst starting with “why” can make people defensive.
  2. Listening actively: Don’t jump to conclusions. Listen attentively and try to understand how the person is feeling. Repeat back what you have heard to confirm your understanding, and ask some more questions.