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Easier Said Than Done:
management tools for the difficult stuff

What to do when you and your employee are not on the same page.

We all know that clear communication and strong interpersonal relationships between managers and their employees are key ingredients for producing good results. Most of us are also familiar with difficult, awkward or unsatisfying interactions where those key ingredients are missing and difficult to foster. Do you recognize any of these?

You and a team member seem to consistently “miss” each other and often only discover later that there’s been a misunderstanding. 

You find yourself in a polite fight with someone you manage -- you both see a situation very differently and spend a lot of time and energy trying to help the other see it your way.

A team member has made a decision that you simply can’t comprehend. Or you’ve made a decision that seems obvious to you but members of your team are surprised.

One instinct in these situations might be to avoid and ignore the discomfort by focusing on the tasks at hand. Or, we might lean in by refining and expounding our own perspective to help others get us. Unfortunately, both of these approaches often lead to growing stress and distrust in the relationship and a widening gap of understanding. 

Alternatively, we suggest shifting from either avoiding or redundant advocacy to inquiring and listening:

  • Assume that you don’t know or believe what the other person knows or believes.

  • Ask them to share what information, data, or perspective they are focused on or prioritizing. 

  • Inquire how they came to their perspective, conclusion, or decision based on the information they had.

  • Ask them what their intentions or priorities were when they made the decision or statement. 

  • To check for understanding, play back to them what you have heard. Repeat this effort until they can confirm that you have understood them.

  • Then, and only then, share your own similar set of information with the focus on building shared understanding.

We recognize that all of this can be easier said than done. There are myriad circumstances in every situation that can make it uniquely challenging. Having a model or framework to follow for difficult management situations is often reassuring; likewise, working with a coach or peer to explore, role play, and troubleshoot can be invaluable.

Rising Professionals is a space to do all of that within a dedicated cohort of higher education managers led by a seasoned coach-facilitator. Join Rising Professionals to learn foundational management skills through asynchronous and synchronous learning, practice, discussion and feedback in an intimate virtual environment. Learn more and register here.

Crystal Clear Consulting

Managers in Higher Ed want the skills and confidence to navigate complexity, work with differences and motivate their team.

Rising Professionals 
develops managers to meet the changing demands and context of higher education.

Starts: Jan 12, 2022
Dates: 7 sessions, every 2nd Weds of the Month
Cost: $2,500

Learn more and register

"Because my cohort’s program took place over the pandemic, so many of the tools and theories we learned were applicable and perfectly timed to put into practice... the work we did around change management was not only timely considering the pandemic’s impact on higher education, but left me with valuable tools for the rest of my career." 

Emily McClosky
Dir of Graduate Studies
Villanova University
2020 Rising Professionals 

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