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My Staff Don't Understand Me!

My Staff Don't Understand Me?

Have you been receiving bad feedback from your staff and can't understand why? Perhaps you feel that you have been working hard on behalf of your team without getting any appreciation? Maybe you find that communication with your team can be a bit awkward and stilted?

These issues are commonplace amongst managers. Many managers complain of the difficulty of being 'all things to all people' while at the same time meeting performance deadlines. This can lead to managers feeling disenchanted, isolated and misunderstood. If you have received specific feedback on your shortcomings (perhaps through a 360° evaluation) then consider yourself lucky! You may not feel lucky especially if the feedback has been harsh or unexpected, however, you now have some specific areas which you can start to address. This is a much better position to be in than the manager who suspects that all is not well but has to guess what the problems are.

If you are having problems in this area there are thankfully some solutions which may improve the situation. Here are some suggestions:

1. Firstly, if you haven't received specific feedback on the problem, take action to get some. You may need to enlist the help of an outside facilitator to do a 360° evaluation and collate the feedback. Be prepared for any negative feedback that may come your way and accept that this is a necessary part of improving the overall situation and fostering a two way understanding.

2. Accept that the feedback from your staff is a reflection of their view of an ideal reality. Their view may well differ from yours and this will be a function of their unique values, beliefs and experiences. Your intentions to be a good manager may be soundly intact but the behaviours that others see in you may not do your intentions justice. The evaluation process should highlight how they would like you to be.

3. Take ownership for your part of the dynamic. Denying that there is a problem or blaming and complaining will only make the situation worse. Taking ownership means taking steps to improve how you come across to others. At this point it may be helpful, and brave, to acknowledge (perhaps at your staff meeting) that you have received the feedback and that you are committing to improve the situation. Asking for the support and help of your staff at this time could also do you some favours.

4. Ask yourself how you can achieve your underlying positive intention as a manager without any of the negative fallout. For example, your overall intention might be to have a high performing team and you have been using an autocratic or directive style to achieve that. It may have been this style that has upset your team. It may now be time to consider a different type of style in order to achieve the same result and make your staff feel more empowered. This may require you to get some management training e.g. coaching skills for managers

5. One of the most powerful ways of getting a quick turnaround is to hire an executive coach. A good coach will understand the context that you work in but will ask you open and objective questions to get you to think about your situation more resourcefully. An Inspiring Potential coach would be pleased to help.

6. Organising a team event that builds awareness of personality or style differences would be highly effective. Having a facilitator who would use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator with all of your team is one suggestion. This would reveal the different personality types in your team and create a better level of understanding of each other's differences.

The important thing to realise when you feel that your staff don't understand you is to accept responsibility for the issue and take action. Also seeking first to understand and then be understood is a good motto to adopt here. You will learn a lot of interesting things with this approach and you will earn the respect of your team.

If you require any further information, please contact Inspiring Potential at 0845 355 1159.

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