Five Tips to be more Effective when Communicating with your Manager

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Learning how to be more effective when communicating with your manager can bring less stress to you as a front line leader and position you for future promotion.

Here are five tips to help:

#1 Present possible solutions, not problems

Every time a problem is presented without a solution, two negative situations are created:

First, your manager will have to spend the time and effort coming up with a solution.

Secondly, your manager’s choice of solution might not be the most effective, because they aren’t as familiar with the situation. You are more aware of all the circumstances and in a better position to problem solve.

Without contributing to the solution, you could end up having to accept a decision or solution you don’t like or agree with. Presenting a solution or offering suggestions for a couple of alternatives when presenting a problem to your manager will have a positive impact. Your manager will appreciate the demonstration of problem solving skills and you will have more buy in to the solution that you helped create.

# 2 Be aware of timing

There is a good time to ask for things and a bad time to make a request. Generally, your manager will be more receptive to requests for additional resources when operations are running smoothly and business is prospering. Approaching your manager on a bad day or when business conditions are poor increases the probability of rejection. Sometimes there is no choice but to ask when circumstances are not perfect. However, whenever possible, increase your odds of success by asking when conditions are more positive.

# 3 Build a business case

If the request to your manager involves increasing resources or spending more money, it is important to quantify the savings. Most organizations require a cost benefit analysis in order to spend unbudgeted dollars. Before the request can be approved, your manager could be required to justify the expenditure. Possibly, they could be required to document the business case for their superior or for the finance team and this extra administration could cause a delay.

Doing the homework in advance and providing the numbers with the request is helpful and more likely to speed up the decision process.

#4 Get to the point

State the problem and a plan for correction. Your manager will ask questions if there are any. Many managers have more dominant personalities and prefer to get to the bottom line. A long story could result in a reaction of suspicion. You don’t want to be perceived by your manager as wasting his or her time.

#5 Plant seeds, then harvest.

When your manager is approached with a new idea that they haven’t had time to consider, the reaction could be negative or defensive. Some ideas need time to germinate. Plant the seeds of the idea with your manager, then follow up with a future conversation when it’s a better time to harvest the answer. The more effective a front line leader can be when communicating with their manager, the more positive the influence will be on his or her career. Try not to be discouraged if the idea is presented as your manager’s idea. Contributing to supporting your manager in a positive way can still be rewarding.

Action you can take:

Develop the leadership skills that front line supervisors, team leaders and managers need to improve safety, productivity and quality, while maximizing the involvement of all team members. Whether you need foundational skills or a specialized workshop, reach out and start a conversation today.

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