Some people are naturally assertive. If you don’t fall into that category, as a manager it’s a skill which you’ll need to develop in order to be as effective as possible.
Many people equate assertiveness with bossiness, which isn’t the same thing. Instead, it should be about staying in control of both yourself and any situation which arises. If you feel you could be more assertive, try following these attributes which are common to all the best managers:
Listen – only by gathering all the facts can you make the most suitable decision. Summarise the main points to ensure you have understood what you have heard.
Ask – use open questions to enable staff to tell you how they feel in their own words. Rather than, “Has this made you upset?” try, “How do you feel about it?” – and see how much more information you’re given.
Aim – in any situation, ask yourself what the best outcome would be, and this will make your path much clearer.
Obstacles – sit back and think objectively about what is getting in the way of you achieving your aims, then tackle it directly, rather than dealing with the symptoms.
Choice – there will always be more than one way of dealing with any situation. Don’t be afraid to take the time to think them all through before acting. We can often have a knee-jerk reaction to a problem, but once we have thought more rationally we can see a better way of handling it.
Results – make sure you reflect on the outcome of any situation to see if you achieved your aims, and whether it could have been done differently or more effectively. Do this shortly afterwards, which gives you enough time to be objective but the situation will still be clear in your mind.
Emotions – it is important to stay in control. Don’t lose your tempter, get upset or raise your voice. Instead, be empathetic and allow staff to be resistant to you initially. By working with them, you will soon find their barriers come down and you’re able to reach a solution together.
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