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Why interpersonal relations training is important for new managers

Why interpersonal relations training is important for new managers

The existing body of literature on organizational leadership often focuses on transformational leadership, that is, the leader who “acts in mutual ways with the followers, appeals to their higher needs, and inspires and motivates followers to move toward a particular purpose” (Bensimon, Neumann, & Birnbaum, 1989). Many studies have been conducted in order to identify the traits of good leadership and explore ways to train managers and supervisors to be better leaders in an effort to enhance workplace engagement, productivity and profitability.

In contradiction, casual conversations with working adults in a variety of work environments provide anecdotal evidence to suggest that toxic leaders and managers – those who are unpredictable, disrespectful and demonstrate little appreciation for staff; or who are short-sighted in goal planning, rigid, and discourage feedback and creativity (Kimura, 2003) – may actually be the norm in workplaces.

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There has not yet been much scholarly research done on this type of leadership, nor on the effect these leaders and managers have on their staff members. For example, a Google Scholar search for the key term transformational leadership returned approximately 103,000 results, whereas a search of toxic leadership returned only about 74,000, and a search for what affects employee morale returned about 59,000 results – little more than half the number of results for transformational leadership.

In contrast, popular management and leadership discourse appears to address the problem much more acutely. A popular media search on Google returned over 56 million hits on the phrase toxic leadership, and the same search on Yahoo returned just over 60 million hits including magazine articles, career advice columns, and blogs that span a range of industries and forums from management practice publications to popular psychology and opinion sites.

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Here’s what we know:

  • Low employee morale leads to higher turnover rates (Griffeth, Hom & Gaertner, 2000) which cost companies money.
  • The cost of employee turnover can be as high as 30% of annual salary for a lower-skilled worker and up to 250% of annual salary for highly specialized positions (Hester, 2013).
  • Managerial interventions can mitigate this phenomenon (Griffeth, et al., 2000).
  • Employee cynicism (a precursor to turnover) has been empirically attributed to management incompetence and ineffectiveness (Cartwright and Holmes, 2006).
  • Employee satisfaction on the job can be directly influenced by interactions with management (Mobley, Griffeth & Hand, 1979).

Considering these facts, it should be a no-brainer that we start looking at ways to train our first-time managers to be better at interacting with their direct reports.

In a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, Beck and Harter stated, “being a very successful programmer, salesperson, or engineer… is no guarantee that someone will be even remotely adept at managing others.”

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They discuss how many companies engage in the practice of promoting workers into management positions based on the merits of the current work they are doing rather than an aptitude for building the relationships that motivate and engage others to do their best work. This type of promotion criteria does not take into account the new manager’s adeptness (or lack of) at building meaningful relationships, communicating effectively, or the “human-oriented” activities that are inherent in the workplace and have been shown to motivate and engage employees and increase employee satisfaction (Luthans, 1988). This typical pathway into management is problematic in that it gives rise to managerial incompetence which, as shown earlier, can drive employee cynicism and turnover.

So what’s the point?

Over 30 years of research has supported the point that promoting individual contributors into management based solely on the merits of their current work while ignoring an absence of aptitude for interpersonal relations is ill-advised, to say the least. Yet companies continue to engage in this practice with seemingly very little thought to the impact on employee relations and engagement.

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If companies want to give their new managers the best shot at becoming effective leaders, it’s time to start looking at ways to train them to relate to their people and sustain engagement. Research shows that front-line managers and the perceived care and support they provide to their employees are especially strong influences on employee engagement and disengagement (Saks, 2006).

So, in order for individual contributors to become effective managers they must understand the relational aspects of their new roles. Interpersonal relations training for new managers can work to mitigate the ongoing problem of poor management that leads to employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Subsequently the likelihood of maintaining employee engagement may increase as a result, which may lead to a reduction in employee turnover and save your company’s bottom line.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2019

15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

Once you have embarked on your professional life, whether it is after college or high school, you will be making a transition to the workplace. If possible, it is good to find an employer that is flexible. In other words, one that possesses a culture that is diverse and tailors to the needs of its employees as a bottom line.

But, even if you don’t land your dream job right away, there are many ways to improve your experiences within the workplace as you climb the career ladder.

In the subsequent sections will be looking over ways to engage your relationships at work, including 15 ways to effectively approach interpersonal relationships at the workplace.

1. Open Up Cautiously

Depending on if its a startup, a small business, enterprise or corporation it’s important to be aware of your surroundings.

Be mindful of how much you open up about yourself, specifically regarding your personal life. You do not want to give the wrong impression, so be careful how much or what details you divulge about being in a relationship or having children.

You have to reach a certain comfort level and rapport with the rest of the staff to be able to engage in transparent conversations. A good general guideline is to stick to small talk.

2. Observe Your Surroundings

There will be times when we are summoned to have a leadership role or to undertake a project to lead a team.

Try not to be too bold or overcompensate at every turn when there is a meeting or an interaction among other staff or employees. The last thing you want to do is to be the person who wants to monopolize every conversation and every interaction.

Be a passive observer at first, and more often than not, you will learn a lot by letting others talk a lot about themselves.

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3. Listen Actively

It may seem redundant, but it is essential to practice the art of really listening to the other person.

Developing interpersonal skills and connections with others at work comes down to listening. It is not just paraphrasing what your superiors or colleagues are trying to communicate; it is about understanding what is at the core and reading between the lines.

Phrases like “I can see what you are saying” or “I can acknowledge your insight” are just some examples. Learn to empathize and relate with people with whom you have a genuine connection.

4. Consolidate All Feedback

When you learn to listen to others and to allow them to finish their thoughts you are on your way to be being a great communicator.

One of the toughest tasks to accomplish is to include everyone’s voice. Don’t rely on shout-outs or trying to come up with the best answer. Including everyone’s voice is about listening to all suggestions and putting together an entire picture. When everyone feels part of the process there is great cohesion.

5. Never Make Sweeping Judgements

As person and a human being with compassion never make any assumptions about anyone.

Just because they have a certain skin color, clothes or physical features, never make stereotypical or generalizations about anyone.

6. Keep Emotions in Check

Work-related stress is something we all have to deal with at some point or another. Whether you work in the public or private sector you will encounter stressors or stressful co-workers. In this case, it is good to keep open the lines of communications.

Always ask to clarify how a person feels and where they are coming from. It is better to entertain these conversations before they make a person lash out or have a negative reaction. Ask to speak privately and get feedback. When you do this it really shows you care about what your role is and that you are a true professional.

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7. Give Help to Others

Having compassion and empathy for others is a noble attitude to practice.

Though, do be careful about how much you want to get involved with colleagues at the office; it could jeopardize the nature of your work relationship and the roles you both have.

It’s best to separate the personal from the professional and lend a hand by using your best judgement.

8. Broaden Your Horizons

Once you have worked in a company or an organization, things can get repetitive and dull. Sometimes we need to remember that we are human and need to fulfill certain responsibilities.

Often we want to try to change things by introducing our best abilities or perhaps our inventions, but we need to be realistic. Change does not happen overnight, rather it is a long process.

Step back and take a look at the big picture, and, put all your cards on the table to get perspective. Sometimes we approach situations in life from the wrong point-of-view.

9. Be Optimistic

This is probably one you have heard time and time again.

When we suggest to have a positive attitude it does not mean to fake it until you make it, nor to conceal your feelings. This is not the case in this situation. Overall, you want to try to be authentic in how you are feeling, because life will throw curve balls that are beyond our control.

10. Be Sensitive to Cultural Norms

Whenever you are around other people within a professional workspace, do not make assumptions in trying to figure people out in an instant.

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Some cultures discourage physical contact, while others may be inviting. Always be courteous, respectful and ask questions. It will not only make you more aware of others’ needs, but show that you are considerate of the differences.

You do not want to get off on the wrong foot by being too friendly or too touchy. Just observe how people respond to your approach and let them lead the way of what is a safe practice to meet and greet the first time around.

11. Show Professionalism

How you interact and carry yourself around others will be the difference between a job promotion or losing your job. No matter what, always respectful and professional towards others.

You will have an opportunities in life and at work, so showcase an outpouring of great and positive energy in the face of adversity.

12. Get Involved with Activities

When you are part of a company, there are often opportunities for organized activities outside of the office space.

Sometimes it is worth exploring uncharted terrain and to get to know people in a different environment. Plus, you will have an opportunity to be seeing in a different light.

Even though you are off the clock, keep your professional tenure and set boundaries. You want to be vulnerable, but not put yourself in a comprising position. Use your intuition and common sense to evaluate these situations.

13. Get to Know Your Company

With your smartphone or your laptop, you have at your fingertips a mine of information online. Just as you would do before a job interview, conduct ample research to get familiarized with what your company does and how its branding is perceived via the media or social networks.

Rather than just focusing on doing your job and fulfilling the duties, see what the business is up to. It is fundamental to really know what organization you belong to. Get educated on what other ventures they are involved with as well as the ones that you are directly in the know about.

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14. Learn to Problem Solve

Problem solving is going to be a skill you will acquire with experience and by making mistakes. Furthermore, not only will you make mistakes but you will likely also sometimes fail. This is okay and is part of the natural swing of things!

Learn to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. At the same time, do not blame others for coming up short. When you come forward with the truth and responsibility, your supervisors or superiors will take notice of your authenticity.

One of the greatest gifts in life is fail and once you experience you start to get a different perspective on how to move forward at the job.

15. Do Some Prospecting

If you have coding, computer, language or other beneficial skills, be sure to pitch these at the right time.

When you start out new at a company it is best not to show all your cards. It is like poker: don’t let others see if you believe you have the upper hand. Take time to get familiarized with your company and organization before promoting your outside skillset.

You will know when to put forward your amazing talents, so proceed with caution.

Conclusion

Learning to refine your interpersonal skills is a lifelong process. In time, you will also became more effective and skillful after accumulating work-related experiences.

Exert humility, understanding, compassion, and mindfulness and the rewards will come!

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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