Updated: Jul 30
When you become a manager of a team, you are essentially overnight catapulted into a position of authority where people are expected to listen and learn from you. You're no longer really, truly allowed to be a human with thoughts and feelings. You can’t bitch about Karen from Accounts, you can’t let the fact that your running on five hours sleep affect your tone with your team. Learning how to rise above the red tape and be a shining beacon of light that people aspire to be or to learn from takes work. Serious work.
It all starts with your communication style. You’re busy powering through your daily to-do list. Number 37 on the list is to follow up with your team member chasing them up on that thing they’re yet to do. You’ve already asked them twice. You check again and it’s still not done, past the deadline. Your patience is starting to wear thin. Them not doing their job properly is making you look bad to your boss. So you send an email as follows:
“Hey, can you make sure X is completed by close of business. Thanks!”
First off, do not send an email where a call is possible. Emails are incredibly hard to decipher tone; we’ve all been there where we have sat analysing a message we’ve received like the one above. Is she mad at me? Is she just busy? If you ARE able to make a call, calm yourself down first. Ask them how they are, how their day has gone so far, what they have been working on. Set the tone of the call in the right way, build rapport and allow the person on the other end of the phone to feel relaxed and open with you. There may be a completely reasonable explanation as to why they have not been able to complete the task set by the deadline. If not, approach the subject in an assertive but kind way: “I wanted to see where you are at with completing X, as I have to present to X by X and I needed the data in order to accurately deliver the figures”. Communicating in this way ensures you get a response on the crux of your call, but also gives them some context as to why you need the job done by the deadline, and also puts some of the onus back on you. Always end with some action points, who will do what by when – it’s a great way of ensuring the message got delivered in the right way and holding people accountable.
Use the tools at your fingertips. It’s 2020 and so we imagine if your working for a corporate company you will have access to less formal tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts were you can quickly ping one of your team members and get a solution in half the time. The format of your message should be similar to your call. Say hello in the right way (it’s insane how many people forget this), ask them how they are, write in an engaging and friendly way. Unless your working in a high street law practice, businesses operate differently nowadays. We are less formal.
If you absolutely have to use an email, it should be more colloquial, whilst still delivering the message. Try and avoid a back and forth on an email chain. Make your ask clear and concise, it’s likely you will have to wait for a response before deciding on a course of action to get the job done, but one or two emails per request should be enough.
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