Posts Tagged ‘ Conflict ’

If You Were a First Time Manager Again, What Would You Do Differently?

As we grow and learn as human beings we come across things in life which make us wonder how different things could have been if we knew then, what we know now. Working for a leadership company now, I often think about my first time manager role and how I really wasn’t as good of a manager as I could/should have been.  I wasn’t equipped with the right skills that I needed.

I want to share with you my experience about becoming a first time manager, here goes…..

I was 21 years old and worked for a very well known UK bank insurance call center,  I managed a team of 10-15 employees. I had previously worked as part of this team before I went to university and during  my holidays, so the team were my friends. I climbed up the ranks from individual contributor to team lead. When I became a manager of the team, needless to say things changed.  I was still everyone’s friend and I still went out with my close friends on the team Saturday nights, but at work there was a bit of “them versus me.” When people were performing I thought things were great, but when they weren’t being a first time manager was really tough. I remember many a night, going home and crying wondering what I had done to deserve people being so horrible to me, and thinking I never want to be a manager again.

Looking back, I brought some of it on myself. Below are some of the mistakes I made…..

  • I thought I needed to have all of the answers
  • I thought I needed to be authoritative and hard otherwise people wouldn’t respect me
  • I followed all of the rules & guidelines the company set to the T, 100% of the time
  • I never really listened or was open to be persuaded
  • I shied away from conflict, until it blew up in my face
  • The company set the goals which were very day-to-day focused, e.g., call handling times, etc. I never as a manager set any long term goals for my team or development goals, I simply followed the script, mainly because I didn’t know any different.
  • We didn’t celebrate achievements enough.

Knowing what I know now, there are lots of things I would have done differently in my first time manager role. I won’t write them all, because I could be here for days but I’ve noted just a few a below.

  • Breathe – You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions straight away. Take five minutes to reflect and stay calm even when stressed.
  • Listen – Not just for the sake of letting others talk, but really listen to what people are saying. Be open to being persuaded.
  • I wouldn’t have pretended to be something I wasn’t. I am not hard faced and authoritative, quite the opposite. People see through masks, I would have told my truth about who I am, and what I expect from the team.
  • I would have set clear expectations and goals for my team, to help them grow and develop. Worked hard to create growth opportunities for my team.
  • I would have told myself – Don’t take things so personally! I know that’s easier said than done but I used to beat myself up about not being everything to everyone. Remember you are only human.
  • When things weren’t going to plan with the team or team member, I would’ve dealt with the situation there and then and thought about my words very carefully. Asked them about what went wrong, ensure no judgement or blame.
  • Asked for help. Quite often in life, we are ashamed to ask for help. I don’t know why, because everyone in life at some point needs direction and or support.

My experience of being a first time manager, and feeling completely overwhelmed happens all of the time. People are promoted because they are good at what they do, many forget that a manager’s role requires a completely different skill set to that of an individual contributor.

What would you have done differently in your first time manager role?  Or if you haven’t been a manager yet, but looking to become one, what is your greatest concern about being a first time manager?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

Why I Used to Hate Giving Feedback

How often have you heard your friends or colleagues moaning about someone or about something that has happened, but they never actually say anything to that person? It happens all the time and it’s all because people don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or are scared of giving feedback.

Giving feedback is tough, and something I often shy away from, so you are not alone!

Have you had that experience when you think, “I can give feedback,” and you do it, but crash and burn? You don’t get the response that you were hoping for, or nothing changes. You then get discouraged and think, “I am never doing that again!” Don’t worry, this is completely normal.

I work with Situational Leadership® II, so I know very well that when I crash and burn, I am in the D2 stage, where I have low commitment and little competence to give anyone feedback ever again. The only way I am going to move to D3, where I feel more committed and become competent, is if I pick myself up, keep doing it, and ask for a bit of direction and support from people I know are good at giving feedback.

The more positive experiences you have with giving feedback, the more confident you will be, so please don’t shy away from it.

Handy Tips

Has this person demonstrated competence in this goal/task before?

Are you giving feedback to someone who has already completed this task or goal perfectly before? Or is this person new to the task or goal? Understanding this first will help you shape your discussion when giving feedback.

Always give feedback about a particular event/situation. Never make it general.

People cannot relate to general. So often in annual reviews, you hear feedback like, “You don’t respond to emails quickly enough”; if your colleague thinks they do reply fast enough, this type of general feedback will get someone’s back up. Instead say, “XYZ client emailed you and requested information concerning their leadership materials; they didn’t receive a response for three days. The consequences of this were their training materials didn’t arrive in time for the workshop.”

Try to give the feedback as quickly as possible.

You give feedback to try to stop mistakes from recurring. The quicker you address the problem, the less likely it is that mistakes will happen in the future. Plus it’s easier for people to embrace if it’s happened recently.

Give feedback from a good place.

When giving feedback, express why you are giving the feedback and how it can help that person in the future. If people see you are trying to help them, you are less likely to be met with resistance.

These are just a few tips I have picked up along the way—there are many more.

I would really like to hear from you about your experiences and tips on giving feedback. Please share your stories!

Remove Emotion From The Equation

A friend of mine recently came to me to vent about a conflict he was dealing with at work. He was at his wits end about how to resolve this conflict and needed an outsider’s perspective.

We sat down over lunch and he delivered his account of what was going on. As I suspected, his conflict was very similar to his onion rings…it was a rather small issue deep-fried in a thick batter of emotions.

On either side of most conflicts you’ll typically find an over-abundance of emotional attachment. If conflict was a steam engine, then emotion would be the coal being shoveled into the firebox.

My friend was smart enough to realize this. He knew that seeking guidance from someone who was not emotionally attached to the issue could help him peel away the layers and focus on the issue instead of the emotions he was experiencing. He knew that he had become so passionate about his position that he was interpreting every opposing opinion as a personal attack. He also suspected that his colleagues on the other side of the conflict were most likely feeling the same way, and he was probably right. They had reached a point where a change needed to occur so that the conflict could be resolved and also so the relationships didn’t suffer irreparable damage.

As he continued to talk, it became clear that all he really needed was a sounding board. He came to the conclusion on his own that the best course of action was to remove emotion from the equation.

He phoned me later in the week to let me know that the conflict had been resolved. He had reengaged his colleagues and influenced them all to refocus on the issue at hand by first acknowledging that the emotional element had been getting in the way of progress. As it turns out, everyone was feeling the same way. They too were ready to let go of their emotions and rediscover their common ground which would be the foundation for resolving their conflict. They let their shared vision and values be their guide and were finally able to focus on their equally shared desire to find a mutually beneficial resolution to their problem.

The Resolve!

Tis the season for resolutions—a fascinating tradition that occurs at the beginning of every New Year and inspires our imaginations with hope, possibility, and a new will to power. A season when we have an opportunity to wipe away the old and raise up the new, with one stroke of the clock.

If it sounds too simple, than it probably is. We know that when the party ends and the vacation is over, and most of the college football bowl games have been played, the real New Year begins. We get back into the daily grind, returning to work, to school, to life and all of the issues that did not seem to disappear with the toll of the twelfth bell just a few nights ago.

We are a week back into reality now. How are your resolutions fairing? Or were you too stubborn to make any resolutions?

Whether you testified to anyone regarding your resolutions, or you’re the Scrooge of the New Year and are above such petty traditions, there are some key insights on one’s self, through the idea of resolutions that may be worth pondering before you get lost in the whirlwind of this new year.


The very term, resolution, implies that there is some sort of conflict in our lives. Some habit or trivial pursuit that does not align with our core values and seeks to threaten our good will and service to others. Before a person can begin to set and keep a resolution, they must first clearly define the conflicts of their personal or professional lives, before they can set any course toward setting a reasonable resolution.


Unfortunately, many of us treat resolutions like a penny being tossed into a wishing well, a blind hope that perhaps that some miracle will occur by casting our burdens upon a streak of time in the night sky, as if the new number on the year of our calendars will magically help us achieve our wildest dreams. Often, we begin setting goals that aren’t measureable, trackable, or even reasonable—a lukewarm prayer at best. But good Self Leaders are able to come up with a simple plan on how they will achieve their goals/resolutions for the year, and then find a means (a project at work or a hobby in your personal time) applied toward that end. In fact, it is through the means that resolutions are most effectively achieved.


Recently my teenage daughter (that is as much a confession as a proclamation of joy) boldly announced that she was going to audition for the lead role in a local performance of the classic tale, Cinderella. The competition was steep, and she knew it, but decided to step out in faith and resolve that she would give it her all in achieving this goal, and allow destiny to take its course. What she learned from previous auditions is that the dream cannot simply be a declaration of your resolution. There were many hours of voice lessons, dance lessons, acting lessons, and strange gargling sounds from some healing potion that would come from her room at all hours of the night. Through hard work, a few set backs, consistent effort, and a dedication to the end goal through a variety of means, she achieved her goal.


Resolutions are good! But as all things that are good, they are also hard. It’s not too late to set a resolution for this year. But even more importantly, set your mind on resolving the major or minor conflicts in your personal and professional lives through productive and consistent means. Learn to love the process of achieving the resolution. Be persistent, even after failure to achieve your resolution with some silly notion of perfection. This is the very notion of a resolution—a resolve or determination. In every great story, there is a great conflict, and often even a great battle or two before the lead character resolves that conflict and achieves a new level of goodness—for themselves and those that serve. Be resolved this year!

Jason Diamond Arnold
Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action
The Ken Blanchard Companies

%d bloggers like this: