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Mitigate managerial misfortune with these 4 tips

By Jack Campbell | |7 minute read

Being a manager is an often stressful and thankless job. Despite the strain that comes with the position, managers are crucial to the operation of any business.

Bolstering managerial proficiency is a must-do for any employer. With capable managers come capable employees, and we all know people keep organisations going.

To assist, head of NIDA corporate training, Terri Martin, gave four essential tips to help managers perform to the best of their ability.

  1. Observe and listen to others

“In today’s fast-paced way of working, endless emails, and deadlines, the simple act of observing and listening to those around us, surprisingly gets overlooked, meaning important cues to what people really mean are being missed,” commented Martin.

“When a team member is talking, try to focus in – without any other distractions (i.e. laptop closed, phone away, no one else talking) – and actively listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it, instead of thinking about how you will respond.”

She continued: “If you are on a video call, turn the messaging and email notifications off. Flip your phone over. Focus on what is happening here and now and start to view the world through a lens of fact and empathy.”

  1. Be self-aware

“Self-reflection is often underrated. All of us have intended and unintended habits that present themself in the workplace, from the way we move, to how we use our voice in stressful situations, to the energy we bring to a meeting.”

Martin explained: “There are simple exercises that can give you greater insight into how you naturally use your body and voice and appreciate how these habits may – in some instances – be misinterpreted by those around us. There are also simple things you can actively do to potentially alter the way people perceive you.

Martin gave three examples:

  • Body – Many of us are hunched or slumped over for a myriad of reasons. If you notice you do this and your eyes focus more towards the ground, try lifting up through the body with your eye line forward and see how that openness affects the way you connect with people.
  • Voice – Um... the next time you...er... you know, you are speaking with someone… be aware of the flow of your language. Don’t focus on the filler words or what you are doing wrong; instead, focus on space and breath and what you can do right. If you feel like you are running sentences together, pause and breathe. Breathing is fundamental for managing many unwieldy vocal habits. You might notice that you get a few extra perks, like speaking at a slower pace with greater clarity.
  • Energy – In the office, do you notice how other people are working and connecting? What energy are they bringing and how it affects the dynamic of the room? You have a choice, work in the current energy or add something to change the vibe. Do you want to elevate the energy or calm it down? By reading the room with focused observation, you can change things up – or down.
  1. Pitch with confidence

“Presenting an idea and getting buy-in from the intended audience can make or break significant deals in business, with financial implications for all of those it impacts. No wonder pitch presentations can create sleepless nights, sweaty palms and a stomach full of nerves,” said Martin.

“Even some of the most successful and powerful business leaders feel nervous. A common myth is that if you imagine people naked, your nerves will go away – we assure you this is not the case. Preparation, it turns out, is the actual key to finding confidence.”

“If you’re not prepared, your body can show all the signs of nervousness, such as gesturing wildly or running out of breath, and this doesn’t help you look or feel confident. Sure, you could just adjust these physical attributes – by taking a slow, deep breath and releasing the shoulders down, but by adding preparation into the mix, you will actually feel more confident. Your body language and voice will naturally reflect this. Fear is born of the unknown. Give yourself a chance to ‘know’ as much as you can and dial down the fear. Practice and then practice again.”

According to Martin, before you practice, it’s a good idea to know:

  • Who are you speaking to – your boss’s boss or the new intern?
  • Where you are – which space, what tech will you use, are you presenting to one person or 100?
  • When you are making these connections – what time of day or how long have you known this person? Timing and location are everything.
  1. Minimise feelings of impostor syndrome

“Age, years of experience, being in a new work environment and dynamics in work relationships can all contribute to feeling a sense of ’impostor syndrome’ in the workplace. It’s important for people to recognise why they feel this so they can understand how to minimise it and instead feel comfortable and confident to get the job done,” she explained.

“Most importantly, we are not alone in this feeling; probably everyone else in the room feels a bit the same way. Something we can do to bypass a nasty case of impostor syndrome is to create connections with people, so you can find like-minded individuals wherever you are. You are part of a team, and you don’t need to know everything.”

Martin continued: “Working with others to share skill sets and not silo the attention of expertise with one person means you can lean into learning from others, and they can learn from you. Building relationships based on respect and empathy through observations and adaptation creates confident communicators and a really strong team. Now who wouldn’t want that?”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.