New Women Managers

Communication Strategies that Promote Success

by Kari F. Uman, M.Ed., President, Uman Resources Associates, Inc.

Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce NewsletterWomen who are new to management positions sometimes discover that their learned communication style works better in personal rather than professional settings. Here are three solid communication strategies that will help you manage yourself and work more effectively with your superiors, peers and employees:

    1. Set limits and learn to say “no”
      Many women in new managerial positions want to succeed so they do whatever peers, superiors and even their subordinates ask of them. This leads to resentment and burnout. Here are some guidelines to consider when setting limits:Know what you want and don’t want to do by assessing your:

      Time – how long will what is asked of you take?
      Energy – how much energy will you have to expand? Will it fill up or drain you?
      Skills – are these skills you already have? Do you want a new challenge that will increase yours skills?
      Desire – how much do you really want to do this? And what will be the benefit to you and/or the organization?

      If you suspect that saying no is damaging to your career, suggest a workable compromise so that you don’t have to take on the whole task.

    2. Make complete requests
      If you need to get others to take action, requests need to be clear, have a time frame, and any specific information that is pertinent to the success of the request. Make sure you include the following components:

      Requester: who is asking? (not, “we need to do this”)
      Listener: who is being asked? (not, “will someone do this for me?”)
      Future Action: What do I want you to do?
      Condition of Satisfaction: How will I know it’s been done?
      Establish a shared context: Verify assumptions. What does “review” mean?
      Time: by when?

      Here’s an example of a complete request: “Claudia, please review this document for me and correct my mistakes. This includes correcting typos and spelling, changing grammar, and re-writing any sentences that are not clear. I need to have this finished by 5 o’clock today. Do you need any further information?”

    3. Give clear, direct feedback
      If you need to give an employee negative feedback, use the “DESC” feedback model–it can help you communicate all the information effectively:

      Describe the behavior or event without any judgments or assumptions about intent. Be specific as if you are videotaping a scenario. Say, “Yesterday, when you came into the meeting 20 minutes late…” rather than “You always come late to meetings.” Otherwise, the employee can legitimately identify times when he/she was not late and therefore can dismiss the message.

      Express your feelings or explain the impact the person’s actions had on you or others. Say, “I was embarrassed because the CEO was there and it reflects badly on me and our office.” Yes, it is OK to express feelings. Your body language is expressing your feelings anyway so you may as well acknowledge them.

      Specify what you want the person to do in the future. Say, “In the future, I’m counting on you to arrive to meetings on time.”

      Communicate your belief in their ability to change. Positive reinforcement tends to motivate and move people towards action more effectively. “Your contribution is always valuable and I have no doubt you will be sensitive to my concern.”

      Following these tips will go a long way towards your success as a manager.

© Kari Uman 2004