When I was in grade school, we did everything from lining up for recess, to reciting our homework answers in alphabetical order. Since my last name began with "G," I felt safe in the knowledge that someone else had to go first. I even felt sympathy for the kids whose names began with "A." It's always harder to get something started, to be the first one to make the move. And so it goes with the management lessons we discuss in our classroom.
Many first-level and mid-level managers attend our courses here at CAI. They learn lots of "hard skills" like goal setting, coaching, resolving conflict, delegation, motivating employees, interviewing, conducting performance appraisals, and of course, workplace laws. But perhaps even more important, they explore "soft skills" like credibility and relationship building. Since we embrace the philosophy that employees treated well will produce more and treat their clients better, we encourage people to demonstrate empathy and respect and to hold one another accountable.
In our Communication and Conflict Resolution course, we actually role play the use of "I" Statements, discuss how to read people's non-verbal behaviors, and practice paraphrasing. We work through a process of resolving conflict that includes thinking through the issue, articulating the conflict itself, asking for the other party's story, telling our own story and then jointly identifying the next steps. Suffice it to say that participants have multiple opportunities to learn how to speak to others and to get feedback from colleagues on how they come across.
At the end of the course, people often comment that they wish they'd had this training earlier in their careers and that they intend to implement the practices from the classroom back on the job. But, just as often as we hear that, we also hear, "My boss needs to take this course!" Sometimes this statement is followed by, "It's not going to do me any good to adopt these behaviors with my employees if my leadership is not using them with me." That's where we step in to remind people that while it would be great if all managers, directors and CEO's were well-versed in their "people skills,"
it's probably not realistic. However, YOU can adopt these practices for your team even if the leadership above you does not.
If change is going to happen, it must begin somewhere. Why not with the team leaders or supervisors or managers?
You may have to set the example for top management. Someone has to go first.