Today I found myself complaining about having to attend a training session having only just got back from a three-day conference. Then I suddenly caught myself and mused on what an ungrateful sod I was. At the Judge Business School, all managers are given the opportunity to attend a year-long management development programme covering all aspects of management, team development and other relevant HR issues. My previous experience had been quite different – you had to chase after training and it certainly wasn’t offered as a matter of course institution-wide. In fact the very idea of this happening at my previous place of employment amuses me no end.
One of the best parts of the Judge training programme apart from the detailed examination of each topic in hand is the opportunity to get to know and catch up with the other managers across the business school – something we wouldn’t have the time or perhaps the inclination to do otherwise. Also I find I can’t help but use it as an opportunity to hopefully subvert a few expectations as to what it means to be a business librarian today, especially in this current climate of rapid technological change.
Today’s session was on assertiveness and threw up some inevitable lightbulb moments because I guess your communication skills can always be improved:
- Occasionally I still fit the child role in transactional analysis terms (I suspect due to too many years in a deputy role during which I inevitably sought approval and acceptance as I didn’t have the final say)
- Some more verbal techniques for assertive communication: broken record (importance of repetition and restatement); probing (asking questions rather than stating your case); and, best of all, not always asking how people feel about something (you may mean well but it can invite more problems than it solves).
- Something which sounds obvious in the cold light of day: simply the fact that you shouldn’t always expect an immediately positive outcome when seeking buy-in for a change of procedure or practive, instead you can gradually work on seeking acceptance. You may only get part of the way there initially – but that’s fine.
- Finally, I was stunned by the difference of opinion in the group when ticking against a list of items from which we were asked to choose what we thought were the rights of a manager. I was in the minority by not seeing commanding respect and getting the work done as a given. I only see these as attainable if you fulfil your duties as a good competent manager, not as an automatic (and expected) right of any manager. For me this seems to depend on whether you are idealistic or realistic in your approach. I’m a committed idealist and am driven to unreasonable fury by those people who bang on about how someone should be behaving or how things should be working. Got no time for that!
Thanks to those of you who are following my blogging journey so far. Tomorrow unless something else crops up I’ll return to reviewing the sessions at the EBSLG conference, starting with a fascinating insight into what makes Generation Y tick…