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Although it's not always easy to be assertive on the job, it's essential if you expect be an effective manager. Dealing with the many different personality traits you will likely find on any staff takes strategy. Regardless of the approach, assertiveness involves qualities like being able to initiate a difficult conversation or firmly state your opinion. Being assertive does not mean being aggressive or confrontational. It means addressing staff and situations in a professional and respectful manner.
Address Problems Directly
An assertive manager promptly addresses problems before they have a chance to get out of hand. While the passive manager might be intimidated by loud and forceful employees, an assertive manager stands up to them. A confrontational manager might try to bark louder than everyone else, but an assertive manager is confident and calm in his approach. He states facts about problems in an even voice and takes the time to explain why something isn't working well, and what can be done to correct it.
When someone speaks assertively, he owns what he's saying. Being assertive means not placing the blame on other parties for how you feel or what you've observed. When you need to get to the bottom of a work issue, use "I" statements to get your point across. For example, you might say, "I've noticed that you were late getting your last two reports in on time. I feel there may be something going on that is affecting your work. Are you willing to elaborate? "
Watch Your Body Language
Communication is both verbal and nonverbal. Nonverbal forms of communication include the way someone carries himself. To be more assertive with your staff, it's important to hold your head high when walking through the office and when having conversations with your staff. Even in an uncomfortable situation, it's important to look your staff members in the eye when communicating with them. There is a balance between being perceived as cocky and being perceived as confident. Do not try to intimidate or show up your staff. Respect them as individuals and professionals while at the same time making them understand that you won't tolerate unprofessional behavior or a lackluster effort.
Stand Your Ground
One way to show assertiveness with your staff members is to not back down on your statements and policies. This is not to say that if you are wrong, you don't admit your mistakes. Rather, it means standing your ground on company policies, even if they are unpopular. It also means being fair and consistent with all employees, and ensuring that everyone adheres to the same policies. For example, if company policy now requires employees to clock in when they never had to before, an assertive manager enforces the policy and doesn't allow frustrated employees to get away with not clocking in, regardless of their skill or experience level.
Based in the Midwest, Gina Scott has been writing professionally since 2008. She has worked in real estate since 2004 and has expertise in pop culture and health-related topics. She has also self-published a book on how to overcome chronic health conditions. Scott holds a Master of Arts in higher-education administration from Ball State University.
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