The Middle Manager

Surviving & Thriving as a Leader

The Gift of Gab

A few weeks ago I wrote about how important it is that a manager be able to understand and deal with office politics.  Communication is a critical part of how we deal with people, and very often, how you say something is just as – or more – important than what you say.  Knowing what to say and when to say it is an art that every manager should try to cultivate.

For example, say you were faced with a crisis in the office and needed to focus additional resources on a task.  As a manager going to staff, the approach could be a request, asking them to if they could step up and put forth the extra time and effort.  It could be a command, telling the staff they would be required to work additional time until the crisis was averted.  Which approach would be most effective depends on how well you know the team and how they might be expected to react.

When dealing with management upstream, the approach would be very different.  You would not be in the position to command or demand, so you may need to take a more conciliatory approach.  This is one area where the politics of the office may become important.  You must understand the best approach to get the help needed to avert the crisis.  This may be anything from getting approval for additional overtime hours to bringing in contract help or even adding additional staff.  

Some executives like to see the numbers, so it would be necessary to bring data to help leadership make an informed decision.  Other executives are satisfied with a simple request.  If the environment makes it difficult to add resources – usually due to financial concerns – a stronger justification will probably be needed to loosen the purse strings.  

So next time your faced with a decision or a request, take a moment to consider who will be listening and tailor what you have to say appropriately.  Think about what you want to say before you say it.

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