The One Critical Element Missing in New Manager Training

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Sarah was beside herself with excitement when she learned she was being promoted to her first management position. It was everything she had worked so hard for, and she was determined to be the best manager possible. Her company’s new manager training program addressed many critical elements, like understanding her role and what her responsibilities would include, communicating her expectations clearly, and delegating responsibilities.

However, Sarah’s new manager training program was missing any discussion of how to deal with difficult people. Nothing on conflict resolution and dealing with difficult people–which left her unprepared for the challenges she would soon face.

Her early days in her new position went well, and she was thrilled to see the people she was leading respond to her direction. The honeymoon ended when two of her direct reports starting arguing in meetings and causing dissension among the team members.

As Sarah told me during a coaching session, “I was so confused. I did not know how to deal with the situation, and it escalated and started impacting the morale and productivity of the entire group.” I quickly reassured her that her situation was not uncommon and helped her develop strategies to address the conflicts her employees were creating.

The reality of workplace conflict

According to a global study, “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It to Thrive,” an overwhelming majority of employees at all levels (85 percent) experience conflict to some degree. The research, published by CPP Inc., found that U.S. Employees spent 2.8 hours per week involved with conflict, which they estimated as representing approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008–or the equivalent of 385 million working days.

The study noted a discrepancy in how well managers thought they handled conflict and how well they actually did: a third of managers (31 percent) reported that they handled disagreements well, but only 22 percent of non-managers agreed with those number. And, 43 percent of non-managers stated that their supervisors did not deal with conflict as well as they should, compared to only 23 percent of managers who shared that perspective.

Additionally, the authors of the study called out the fact that what they found the most striking – and alarming – was that the majority of employees had never received conflict management training. Yet dealing with difficult people, or people who are creating conflict, is a reality in the workplace; one exacerbated by the range of internal and external pressures of working.

There’s an enormous financial cost to organizations whose managers lack training in dealing with difficult people. Those companies who understand the value of conflict resolution and provide training to their employees have a competitive advantage. New managers who are tasked with leading potentially disgruntled employees are better able to manage if they have been shown how to deal with difficult people in the workplace.

New manager training tips for dealing with conflict

Conflict in the workplace is a given. Bring any group of people together, and you will find differences of opinion, perspectives, and personalities. Cultural diversity can be a factor too. I know from my work, for example, that Europeans are more direct and saying, “No,” is acceptable. While in the Americas it is less common to say, “No,” and in Asia, it is considered completely impolite to say, “No.”

Managing conflict, then, is an essential skill for a new manager. And to manage conflict, you need to understand your own response to the objection, or person’s behavior, or situation. You need to learn how to diagnose a situation and drive it to resolution and, how to manage conflict and turn and objection around.

Some people take a negative view of conflict and are uncomfortable with it, believing it should be suppressed or avoided. But I have found that expressing it openly and getting the issues out on the table can result in positive outcomes. I like to advise my clients to “mine for conflict” so that managers can surface any negativity and deal with it directly. I believe that it’s important to provoke conflict sometimes to get any bad feelings out on the table.

Sound impossible? It’s not. Let me share these tips for dealing with difficult people at work:

1. Use empathy statements to show you hear them

2. Ask if you can have a one-on-one to address their particular questions after the general meeting

3. If you are dealing with the decision-makers, drop your agenda and go into open question mode

4. Suggest taking a break, before resuming create a position-offer

5. Ask the person how they feel about your solution

6. Remind the difficult person, or people, of the big picture and that you are all on the same team and that what’s good for the company can be good for the individual.

Need more help? My new book, The New Global Manager, due out this summer, will offer practical advice and best practices to help you manage diverse personalities, conflict, and challenging people–all on a global level. I’ll also recommend an excellent resource you can find on Twitter: @askamanager. @askamanager tweets advice to help you understand what managers and employees go through in the career development process (and how they manage conflict in the workplace too.)

And Sarah? Six months later she reported that things had improved and mentioned that she had begun taking 15 minutes at the start of her team meetings to have a “complain session” so that the team was able to clear the air get any issues out of the way. She sounds like she is adjusting to the new role very well.

Would you benefit from business coaching? Contact me. I can help.

 

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Women, Stop Overthinking. Be Like Nike and Just Do It!

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Women, and you know who you areit’s time to stop overthinking things. Take the Nike slogan to heartand Just Do It! Whatever it is. Don’t be the one who never steps up to take a risk.

Overthinking, especially chronic overthinking, can hurt your career and impair your performance. I hear the stories all the time from the women in my workshops, “I didn’t ask, and then my male peer got the job.” Or “I was waiting for the right time, and then my manager left.”

Seriously, we know that women hold 85 percent of the buying power globally, make up over 50 percent of the workforceand there are three times as many female-owned start-ups as male-owned. Yet we are still underrepresented in top management, and are less often recipients of VC fundingand we don’t earn as much money than men.

What’s up with that?

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the chair of the department of psychology at Yale University and the author of Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life, has found that women are less likely than men to believe that they have control over negative emotions or important events in their lives.

The Confidence Gap

As Katy Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the book, The Confidence Code, point out, evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men–and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. “Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.

“Do men doubt themselves sometimes? Of course,” write Kay and Shipman. “But not with such exacting and repetitive zeal, and they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do.” Yet for all the reasons that the confidence gap exists, that women tend toward overthinking and hold back in risk taking in the workplace, the answer is simple, if not easy: To become more confident, some need to stop thinking so much and just act.

Women who take risks

Amelia Earhart was not the only highly skilled pilot at the time she rose to prominence in a male-dominated industry, but she was determined and confident, and willing to go after what seemed impossible. Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, and she was – incredibly – only the sixth woman to be issued a pilot’s license.

Vera Wang is almost a household name today. But when, as a young competitive skater, she failed to make the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team, she decided to pursue a career as an editor. As Heather Finn describes it, when she wasn’t hired by Vogue for the editor-in-chief position she dreamed of, Wang started working as the design director for accessories at Ralph Lauren. Her dissatisfaction with the quality of the wedding gowns available to her as she planned her wedding led to her career in bridal fashion design.

Beyoncé Knowles, a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning recording artist who’s acclaimed for her thrilling vocals, videos and live shows, dropped her surprise, self-titled album at the end of 2013, she was terrified of what feedback she might receive, as Finn describes it. The album was hugely successful, and Beyoncé went down as one of the most fabulous risk-takers in history.

And J.K. Rowling, the ninth-best-selling fiction author of all time (estimated 500 million copies sold) lived as a single mom on welfare and wrote every chance she could get. Her belief in her book about a little boy named Harry Potter was so strong that she continued to send out her manuscript and to ignore the rejection letters. Finally, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was publishedand the rest is history.

So stop overthinking. Be like Nike. Just Do It. Whatever it is.

Be bold, push yourself, and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

– Angie Gels, Chief People Officer at Everything But The House.

Here are six tips to help you stop overthinking:

  1. Talk about your dreams, share them, make them come alive.
  2. Create a plan, and execute it. You can always re-tool.
  3. Confer with your mentor or other knowledgeable people in your network.
  4. Do your research. Find out what you don’t know. This will help with overwhelm.
  5. Have a Plan B. It will make you feel safer and more confident in pursuing Plan A.
  6. Use social media to promote an idea, crowd-source opinions or even funding.

Do you need help moving your career forward? Have you considered working with a coach? Contact me. Let’s talk about your options.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo by Steven Jones on Unsplash

5 Ways to Become a Leader–Fast…And Get People to Follow You

Ways to Become a Leader

Have you ever imagined yourself becoming a leader? Think about it. You’d be great. But if what’s holding you back is not knowing where to start or how to chart your path to leadership, I can help you.

Leadership is vital, and good leaders can be hard to find. A new global survey, published on February 1, 2018, revealed that only 14 percent of CEOs believe they have the leadership talent they need to execute their strategy. According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, what’s keeping C-level executives up at night is the need to develop “next gen” leaders and failure to attract and retain top talent, which presents an opportunity for anyone who has ever dreamed about assuming a leadership position in their organization.

Here are five ways to become a leader-;fast. Each of these recommendations is an essential element of building your path to a leadership position.

1. Develop a Global Mindset. Companies like Ernst & Young and McKinsey have polled and found that leaders today are lacking in global awareness and knowledge, otherwise called “global mindset.” The research states that these skills are crucial to the success of a business.

The Globe Project first put its stamp on this term when the extensive research was done in 2010 on what, how and why a leader can be successful in an international context. Today, no leader works in just one place or with only one culture. If you have employees, you work with people from all over the world, and in different geographic locations. Whether your team is local or global, you need to become savvy at working across diversity.

The Globe Project produced an assessment called The Global Mindset Inventory to “test” a leader’s ability to work across cultures and countries. The categories evaluated include:

  • Intellectual Capital: The hard knowledge and skills in social, governmental, and legal aspects of a particular environment
  • Psychological Capital: The interest and desire to work across ambiguity and willingness to explore the unknown
  • Social Capital: The experience and “soft” skills in diplomacy and intercultural communication

2. Become a Thought Leader. The trend is for internal leaders to create thought leadership around a particular topic. Sheryl Sandberg became known for women in the workplace, Jack Welch is known for management, Richard Branson is the expert entrepreneur, and Elon Musk’s brand is innovation. If you want job security, more visibility, a better brand, leadership notoriety, and more meaning at work, you should consider initiating a topic or theme that you can become known for, establish a legacy around, or be the expert in.

3. Create and State “Mantras.” I’m not sure if it’s truly politically correct to use the term “mantras” as I think it has religious meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. However, it’s meaning is crucial: “Phrases that are repeated again and again.”

Have you ever noticed how top leaders have catchphrases they say regularly? It might only be for a quarter or a year, it can vary, but they use them to establish ideas and make them memorable. Repeated use of words gets others to use them, and then eventually, according to social psychology, people start to believe those words and act on them.

If you want to make an impact on your manager, company culture, your team, or even externally, you’ll want to craft such mantras or catchphrases for yourself. Make sure they align with your values, principles, and actions for them to be authentic.

4. Be a Great People Manager. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, the truth is, only about 45 percent of those who become managers actually receive management training. The trend is that those who are really good at their job, or experts in a product or process, get promoted to management. And those promotions don’t necessarily mean they can manage individuals or teams well.

Learning how to balance individual contributor work with management responsibilities is essential. Being able to give critical feedback, teach employees a particular skill, or help them figure out their career path takes practice.

Seeking out management courses both internally and externally will help you speed up that learning curve of not only ensuring productivity and engagement from your team but assist in charting your leadership trajectory.

5. Enlist a Coach or Mentor.  Everyone needs help. Why should you go at it alone? Seek out a professional or find someone who will agree to mentor you. You can ask them anything you want to – how to navigate the organization, who to network with, how to solve a conflict, where to discover new interests, how to plan your career path, etc. Both coaches and mentors can give external and internal perspectives, depending on who you choose and what you need.

Becoming a leader takes work. Becoming a good leader and positioning yourself as a candidate for leadership in your organization requires focus, passion, and dedication. And, if you employ those things as well as the five essential steps I have listed above, you will attract the attention of the people who promote leaders in your organization-;and become a leader yourself.

Do you have questions or need more information about how to chart your path to leadership? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Lamson is the CEO of Lamson Consulting, Founder of the highly popular leadership program for women, Advancement Strategies for Women, and creator of award-winning management programs for SpaceX, LinkedIn, and SAP. As an author, consultant, and speaker, Melissa accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by growing leaders, bridging cultures, and empowering teams.  More About Melissa Lamson

3 Simple Skills Every Spectacular Leader Masters

three simple skills leadership

Even though being a leader today is complicatedthere are just three simple skills you need to master. Leadership today is complex, in part because our teams are global and virtual. Our hierarchies are flatter. Our environments are more collaborative.

And, there are so many different models of leadership to consider. Should you be compassionate? Should you be a serving leader? What’s the difference between the two?

It can be overwhelming to think about all the different ways one can lead and how to pick the best fit.

But there are three simple skills that all spectacular leaders demonstrate and you can too.

Be observant.

All fantastic leaders are able to assess the different ways their employees work and thrive. They look at their teams’ personalities, cultural backgrounds, even gender, to identify what approach will be most effective in engaging, motivating and bringing out the best in an employee.

For example, in the case of differing cultural backgrounds, if a team member is from Mexico or Japan where there’s commonly a distinct hierarchy, then a leader should know that he or she might need to ask this person if they need support or have issues. This is because in these cultures it’s often seen as disrespectful to bring up problems to a superior.

Alternatively, if a person is from a country like the U.S. or France, they’re most likely used to working in a flatter organizational structure and are accustomed to having autonomy in their work.

Create a feedback loop.

Leaders often cite giving feedback, especially the negative kind, as one of the toughest parts of their jobs. They don’t want to make their teams feel uncomfortable, hurt feelings, or impair relationships.

The way around this is to create a culture of feedback where the team views the practice as a positive for both the individual and the organization rather than something to be feared. Give both constructive and positive commentary on a regular basis.

But keep two things in mind–first, make sure you’re clear in your intention. Tell the recipient the purpose of your comments, whether it is to grow, improve their image, or protect them. Second, don’t talk about hearsay or feelings. Stick to observable facts.

Be an empowering coach.

Be a coach who empowers the team to better themselves. Ask questions, listen, and help your staff re-frame their answers so they can come up with solutions.

I like the GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, and Will) coaching model because it helps someone refine their goal, define their current situation, discover the different options of what to try, and then commit to a particular action. The coachee owns the answers and therefore is more engaged and committed to the outcome.

This strategy works especially well in flatter hierarchies and collaborative environments. The best coaching is used to empower and serve team members. It allows them to find answers themselves that might even be better than what you would have directed them to do.

While these three simple skills are seemingly basic, there are many different approaches and methods along with various workshops and programs.

But what it comes down to is the ability to be observant, listen, and have those effective and critical conversations in feedback and coaching. If you master these three simple skills, you’ll have a strong connection with your team and see them be more productive and successful. And, if you need working with your team, or developing your own leadership skills, contact me.

 A version of this post was first published on Inc.
Image: RClassenLayouts/123RF

Five Friday Highlights: Hubris, Humility, and Stress

Work Stress

As I have traveled to Germany recently, conducted workshops for LinkedIn, and continued developing my exclusive coaching program for female executives, I have been thinking about gender diversity, work stress, living conditions, and the difference between success and failure. These five posts each touch on those topics from various angles.

Why VC’s Aren’t Funding Women-Led Startups from Knowledge@Wharton raises realistic and honest questions about how women can have a more equitable share of VC funding. It’s sad to note that in 2016 I can attest to the fact that the male hubris/female humility effect is still asserting itself throughout the tech world. A quote from Ethan Mollick: “If entrepreneurship is based in part on hubris, [the] male hubris, female humility effect tells us something about why women are less likely to do start-ups.”

Topics like “humility” and “confidence” lead me to ponder what talent acquisition specialists really focus on when looking for a perfect fit for their organization. 7 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is One Of The Fastest-Growing Job Skills from Fast Company contends that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ! The article outlines seven reasons emotional intelligence is considered so valuable. One of my favorites is the fact that emotionally intelligent people are more open to feedback.

14 Inspiring Habits of Successful Digital Entrepreneurs from Cox Business’s Blue was quite the thorough inventory of what it takes to be a successful digital entrepreneur. These “inspiring habits” apply to success outside the digital realm as well. My favorite (of course) is think globalDigital entrepreneurs have a mindset that isn’t restricted by geopolitical borders. They understand that the noise is greater but the niches are larger. Because they are global.

I also try to keep my finger on the pulse of what workers of all generations are doing to survive. Where are they living? How are they spending their disposable income? How do they integrate work and life? This one reflects a trend that speaks both to values and the current economy: For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds from the The Pew Research Center. The category “share living with spouse or partner” continues to fall, according to the study, which states, “This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35.”

Finally, no matter what generational demographic you fall into, stress at work has to happen to you at least occasionally! There was a great suggestion and a fresh angle in Want to Decrease Your Stress at Work? Encourage Your Coworkers from Forbes. Citing research that demonstrates how encouraging coworkers can reduce stress, the article continues, “In addition to the brain benefits and reduced stress that result from supporting your colleagues, doing so will help create a culture where your coworkers can lean on one another and encourage each other in stressful tasks.”

And who doesn’t want less stress and more encouragement? I encourage you to let me know what reading has made a difference for you recently. Email me with your recommendations!

Image Credit: 123rf/Ion Chiosea