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Seven steps for effective communicating

Seven steps for effective communicating

When employees propose flexible scheduling . . .

1. Listen to the issue; restate or paraphrase exactly what you heard, to check if you heard it accurately. Clarify the impact on business issues. Don’t “just say no.” (You may feed back exactly what you heard, word for word, or you may paraphrase it − put it in your own words − making sure you understand the problem as it relates to getting the job done.)

2. Maintain the relationship. Communicate your caring and concern. (Remember this is a fellow human being as well as an employee. Take the time to express sympathy, empathy or understanding.)

3. Express your commitment and listen for your employee’s commitment.
(You are committed to getting the job done; trust that your employee is too, but very likely has conflicting commitments.)

4. Clarify goals – exactly what must be accomplished, by whom, and by when. Focus on how to achieve the results desired by both parties, within business limitations.
(Don’t get caught up in the details of the employee’s personal conflict. Be clear about your goals and how to achieve them.)

5. Get creative. Bring flexibility to the problem. Explore alternatives until you find one that will meet everyone’s needs. Together, challenge past assumptions that might keep you from a solution. (This is the time for “out of the box” thinking. “Because we’ve never done it this way before” is no reason not to try.)

6. Consider the consequences. How will communication be maintained? How will the solution affect others? What additional action will be needed to help ensure success?
(Brainstorm together who among both colleagues and customers may need to be made aware of the new work arrangement.)

7. Design follow-up. Plan to evaluate both the solution and the problem-solving process. Schedule regular meetings to evaluate your progress. (Instead of calling if off at the first sign of failure, look for creative ways of making the arrangement work better for everyone. Maybe you’ll need to clarify expectations, and improve communication.)

Think of these as shared responsibilities . . .

 Be flexible and creative, ready to try new approaches.

 Don’t let cynicism keep you from seeing new possibilities; think outside the box.

 Don’t put off addressing work/life conflicts.

 Anticipate! Have back-up plans ready for emergencies. Give colleagues as much time as possible to prepare.

 React with sensitivity to others’ work/life issues; even if you don’t agree with how they’re handling them.

 Participate in cross-training whenever possible (not easy; takes planning, commitment).

 Hold others accountable and be accountable yourself.

 Be dual-centric. Focus on business needs while considering life issues.

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