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Great Managers End Censorship

Great Managers End Censorship

In this, the alive and well revolution of blogging and print-on-demand publishing, censorship is something we think of as very dark ages; surely it doesn’t happen anymore!

That may be true in the freedoms of your personal, unshackled life, but how about at work?

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The freedom of self-expression is one we say we cherish most of all, for we are sensitive, intelligent, and thoughtful human beings. We know stuff. We represent. We define. We influence. We stand up to be heard, and we should, for we have important opinions which should count. People need to hear us, and we need to hear them, so that the blending of our voices can clarify intentions, and thus smooth out all the rough edges of our challenging world.

Great Managers are fully aware that each of the people they manage embody a voice which needs to be heard in the world’s neighborhood we call At Work. Full, open expression enables the ‘everything else’ of essential communication, and it’s no different on the job if the work which is done is to count for something great too.

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Having this awareness, Great Managers ensure that they end any hint of censorship, and that when people have something to say they feel they have every freedom to say it. Censorship at work takes the form of self-censorship. For some reason, people feel inhibited and they don’t speak up.

This is a picture of what you, as a Great Manager, must create in your purposeful ban of perceived censorship;

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  • Your ‘Open Door’ policy is alive and well. Your workplace is abuzz with all-engaging conversations about everything and anything, and people feel confident that as their manager, you can handle it. There are no limits. Some conversations may be challenging, but they are always entered into with optimism and not with fear or dread.
  • ‘Channels of communication’ simply do not exist in terms of organizational hierarchies; instead, they are defined by working relationships, decision-reaching partnerships, and fluid project team dynamics. People talk to who they need to talk to so their work is best achieved, and they don’t look for an interpreter to accompany them. Everyone values messages where the messenger is the source.
  • Fear of repercussion has been banished, replaced by coaching. The Head Coach in healthy communication practices is you, the Great Manager, with the understanding that mistakes will be made, screw-ups will happen and unfortunate things will be said, but they all can be corrected with practice in a safe environment. Everyone at every level needs practice. No practice, no mastery.
  • ‘A good time to tell you’ is every time and any time. Great managers communicate with everyone in the workplace with remarkable consistency, even when they’re in a bad mood. The temperament of your responsiveness is predictable for people, and ‘predictable’ means pleasantly handled in a level-headed way, no matter when.
  • Constant conversation is part of the culture. People exercise their voice by means of a workplace expectation like The Daily 5 Minutes (a pdf follows). Innovative engagement happens because people converse constantly, and not just when something comes up which needs to be fixed. Conversation is to create synergy, not merely to solve problems in a civilized way.
  • “Put it in writing” isn’t said anymore, except for within the context of a multi-detailed, still-complex project. The spoken word is good enough, for one’s word is one’s honor, and follow-up happens. Email confirmation clutter decreases, idea mind-maps systematically replace progress reports, and your HR department stops asking you for your documentation.

Great Managers understand that having a workplace like this is something they must purposefully and diligently create. They manage catalytic workplace practices that are valued as company best practices; the ideas may not be original, but they have teeth to them, and they aren’t academic or business-speak, they are real. This is the work of great management; it’s your work.

To start, I give my Daily 5 Minutes to you freely: Adopt it and reap the benefits. Release the voices of those you manage from their self-censored silence, then listen well for the contributions they are sure to start offering you.

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Related Article: The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers
A Gift from Rosa: A pdf on The Daily Five Minutes, an excerpt from Managing with Aloha

Post Author: Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. She fervently believes that work can inspire, and that great managers and leaders can change our lives for the better. She writes for Lifehack.org to freely offer her coaching to those of us who aspire to be greater than we are, for she also believes in us. Writing on What Great Managers Do is one of her favorite topics.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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