Supportive communication fosters a positive relationship between individuals without jeopardizing their ability to articulate a problem or to give negative feedback about an issue (Whetten & Cameron 2011, pp. 168-517). It enables managers to resolve sensitive issues and to convey messages which are not complementary. The importance of supportive communication is that it improves the accuracy with which the message is delivered. Thus, the possibility of misunderstanding the message is minimized. An improvement in understanding strengthens the relationship between the individuals who are communicating (Pheng & Keong 2000, pp. 34-39). In this regard, supportive communication helps in establishing positive interpersonal relationships in organizations. It also facilitates high productivity and the reduction of conflicts. Finally, it helps in coaching and counseling employees. Through supportive communication, managers can reprimand their juniors in a manner that promotes the achievement of positive outcomes.
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Effective use of supportive communication can be achieved by adopting the following principles. First, interpersonal communication must focus on congruence. Congruence occurs when the message that is being conveyed matches the thoughts and feelings of the communicator (Larsen & Folger 2007, pp. 111-115). Second, supportive communication utilizes descriptions rather than evaluations to convey sensitive information. Descriptive communication helps in minimizing the tendency of being evaluative and the development of defensive interactions (Aziz & Talukder 2012, pp. 435-448). Third, supportive communication focuses on finding solutions to problems rather than the weaknesses of an individual. In this regard, managers can achieve positive outcomes by focusing on problem-oriented communication. Fourth, supportive communication validates the interacting parties. Through validating communication, managers can create a feeling of recognition, understanding, and acceptance in their organizations.
Fifth, supportive communication requires individuals to use specific statements. This requirement is based on the premise that particular ideas are easy to understand and facilitates improvements. Effective supportive communication is often conjunctive. In this context, the message being communicated should be connected to previous ones (Khan 2009, p. 78). Finally, each of the communicating persons must always take responsibility for their statements. By owning communication, managers can effectively demonstrate their interests in interacting with others (Knapp & Daly 2002, p. 89).
Activity and Application
The aspects of supportive communication that are most important to me include building positive interpersonal relationships and focusing on accuracy. I need to establish positive interpersonal relationships with my employees in order to improve performance. Concisely, a positive relationship will enable me to enhance the exchange of knowledge and cooperation among employees.
My activities for development in counseling and supportive communication involved participating in group-work activities at the workplace. The program was implemented over a period of one month. Over this period, I engaged in the following activities. First, I focused on asking my staff members more questions than before in order to improve my understanding of every problem. My inability to fully understand situations is attributed to the fact that I often give recommendations for solving particular issues without seeking adequate information. Thus, the need to ask more questions becomes apparent. Second, I embarked on providing emotional and professional support to employees. This involved counseling employees so that they can easily overcome their problems. I also offered technical advice to employees to enable them to complete various tasks. Third, I focused on taking into account the views of my colleagues. In this case, the opinions of the employees were incorporated into my decisions. Finally, I embarked on strengthening my relationship with the employees. This involved encouraging friendly communication and chatting with others in a relaxed manner.
During the practice, I kept a record (performance indicators) of activities such as the number of questions that I asked, the number of employees who benefited from my emotional support, and the frequency with which I incorporated employees’ views in my decisions. These performance indicators are summarized in table 1. At the end of the month, I was able to solve complex problems much faster. This was attributed to the fact that asking more questions enabled me to obtain accurate and complete information about various situations. The motivation and attitudes of the employees improved significantly after I started including their views in my decisions. Generally, the employees felt that their contributions were appreciated, and most of them were willing to work harder. Productivity increased after I provided emotional and professional support. The support improved the employees’ efficiency and competency in completing their tasks. Finally, my relationship with my colleagues also enhanced. Most employees were willing to interact with me after I initiated friendly communication with them.
My score in the supportive communication skills development evaluation was 3.5, up from 1.5. This represents an improvement from the first to the second quartile. Nonetheless, I still need to improve my relationship with other employees. In this regard, I will invest more time in friendly communications with colleagues (Harris 2012, pp. 57-60). During the skill practice, I learned that the right decisions could be made easily by considering different perspectives about a situation. What was surprising is that the employees who always avoided me started to show interest in communicating freely with me. The experience will help me to improve productivity in the long-run by enabling me to communicate effectively with employees (Harris 2012, pp. 57-60).
Table 1: activities for developing supportive communication skills.
|Performance indicator||Before the skill practice||After the skill practice|
|Number of questions asked||3||8|
|Number of employees who received my professional and emotional support||1||5|
|Frequency of incorporating employees views in my decisions||0||4|
|Time spent on friendly communication||0||1 hour|
Creative Problem Solving
Creative problem solving is a technique that was developed to enable managers and individuals to create something new. However, most people find it challenging to use this technique due to their one-dimensional approach to creativity (McFadzean 2002, pp. 537-551). Additionally, conceptual blocks prevent most people from solving problems through creativity. The most common methods to creativity include the following. To begin with, invention can be achieved through imagination (Whetten & Cameron 2011, pp. 168-517). In this case, problems are solved by generating new ideas or techniques. Invention is often used by experimenters and entrepreneurs who consider creativity to be a form of exploration. Generally, achieving creativity through imagination is characterized by revolutionary possibilities, as well as unique solutions.
Creativity can also be achieved by improving existing alternatives. This approach involves solving problems in a careful and systematic manner (Parker 2003, p. 87). Invention is achieved by improving existing organizational processes and functions rather than breakthrough ideas.
Investment is also a means of achieving creativity. This approach is associated with rapid goal achievement and improving the competitiveness of the organization.
Finally, managers can facilitate creativity through incubation (Whetten & Cameron, 2011, pp. 168-517). In this case, the process of solving a problem involves teamwork, involvement, as well as coordination among employees. The importance of solving problems through creativity includes the following. Imaginations can help in solving problems that require original or breakthrough ideas (Garg & Rastogi, 2006, pp. 23-45). By focusing on improving existing processes, organizations can extend their value propositions without undertaking costly investments in new techniques. The investment approach to creativity is the best way of achieving goals in a rapid manner. Finally, sustainability can be achieved by pursuing creativity through the incubation approach.
Activity and Application
As a manager, I consider the implementation of the right solutions to be the most essential aspect of creative problem-solving. The success of problem-solving efforts depends on the practical implementation of the identified solutions (Robinson 2010, pp. 111-122). Consequently, I have to improve my skills in implementing solutions to problems. In order to improve my competence in creative problem solving, I designed a skill practice plan that was implemented in three weeks. In a nutshell, I adopted a multidimensional approach to implementing solutions at the workplace. In this regard, I performed the following tasks. First, I focused on the timely implementation of solutions. Additionally, I ensured that the right sequence was followed during the performance.
Following the correct row in solution, implementation helps in avoiding mistakes (Rausch 2002, pp. 89-90). Second, I embarked on obtaining feedback on a regular basis from members of my department concerning the progress of the implementation. This feedbacks facilitated the timely correction of mistakes. Third, I ensured that the stakeholders who were affected by the problems were involved in the implementation stage. Finally, I focused on evaluating every assumption that I made concerning the implementation process. Beliefs that were likely to complicate the process of implementing the solutions were dropped. The performance indicators included the time spent to implement each solution, involvement of stakeholders, the number of solutions that were executed successfully, and the frequency with which I obtained feedback from members of the department.
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I evaluated my performance at the end of the three weeks, and the results are summarized in Table 2. There was a 50% reduction in the amount of time used to implement each solution. This improvement can be explained by the fact that a multidimensional approach to creativity facilitates the rapid generation of ideas that enhance the efficient implementation of solutions to a problem (Gupta & Labbett 2004, pp. 24-28). My ability to monitor the progress of the implementation process also improved tremendously. In the past, I focused on conducting evaluations after the implementation rather than during the performance. Obtaining feedback from colleagues enabled me to identify my weaknesses and strengths in implementing solutions to various problems at the workplace. Finally, there was a significant improvement in the number of solutions that were implemented successfully. Every four out of the five resolutions that I implemented were successful. The owners of the company were highly satisfied with my performance during the three weeks. Furthermore, the employees decided to adopt a multidimensional approach to creativity in order to improve their performance.
After the practice, my score in the creative problem-solving skills development evaluation increased from 1.75 to 4.5. This means that I improved from the first to the third quartile. Even though this achievement seems to be impressive, there is still room for improvement. I can improve my ability to implement solutions in a creative manner by finding more information about alternative implementation approaches (Rausch 2002, pp. 89-90). This can be achieved by conducting detailed research about the existing solution implementation methods. The most important lesson that I learned is that successful implementation of solutions can be achieved by adopting a multidimensional approach to creativity. I was surprised by the fact that accepting negative feedback from colleagues can help in recognizing and correcting genuine mistakes. I intend to use the creative problem-solving technique in order to improve my effectiveness as a manager in the long-run (Rausch 2002, pp. 89-90). Table 2: activities for developing creative problem solving skills
|Performance indicator||Before the skill practice||After the skill practice|
|Time spent to implement each solution||4 days||2 days|
|Involvement of stakeholders||0||4|
|Number of successfully implemented solutions||2 out of every 5 solutions||4 out of every 5 solutions|
|Frequency with which I obtained feedback from colleagues||o||Twice for every solution|
Building Effective Team
Building an effective team is a strategic management role that facilitates high productivity and innovation in the organization. An effective team consists of members who depend on each other (Akande 2011, pp. 46-50). The members care for each other by providing emotional and professional support when needed. Every member is considered to be an essential part of the team. The dependence improves productivity, as well as the efficiency of the group by enhancing effective coordination among the members. A team is deemed to be effective if its efficiency exceeds that of individual members (Whetten & Cameron 2011, pp. 168-517). Concisely, the members should be able to perform better than they would do outside the team. Effective teams are often successful in achieving their mandate. In this regard, the team creates advantages that make it attractive to both members and non-members.
Rotational leadership helps in improving the effectiveness of the team. Each leader enhances success in the group by introducing new ideas (Keddy & Charlesworth 2008, pp. 10-15). Besides, the leader should always consult the members and build consensus before implementing decisions that are likely to affect the entire team. In an effective team, the members appreciate the achievements of the leader and vice versa. Through trust and encouragement, unity and harmony can be achieved within the group (Baldwin, Bommer & Bill 2007, p. 121). The importance of team-building skills is illustrated by the rapid increase in the number of organizations that depend on teamwork to improve their value propositions. Collaboration is considered to be the best strategy for improving competitiveness in the contemporary business environment (Sashkin & Franklin 2000, pp. 34-43). Empirical studies show that teamwork facilitates high productivity, as well as improvements in quality and morale in the organization. Thus, managers and employees have to improve their skills in building or being members of effective teams.
Activity and Application
According to my experience, managing the norm-formation and the storming stage is the most critical aspect of building an effective team. The norm-formation step is essential since the members identify and adopt rules which can make or break the team (Rushmer 2003, pp. 316-327). The storming stage is crucial since it is characterized by conflicts which can adversely affect the team (Whetten & Cameron 2011, pp. 168-517). It is against this backdrop that I designed and implemented a one-month skill practice plan at the workplace. The project involved participating in teamwork activities in my department. In the first two weeks, I played the role of a team member. However, I assumed the role of a team leader in the last two weeks.
As a member, I focused on improving cohesion in the team by providing emotional support to colleagues. In this regard, I embarked on creating positive energy in the group. This involved expressing optimism during difficult situations in order to encourage the members to carry on. Negative energy often develops at the storming stage due to the difficulties associated with goal achievement (Dale 2000, p.123). Thus, conflicts and despair can be avoided if members are given emotional support. I also focused on sharing information with the team members in order to improve their productivity and participation in team activities.
As a leader, I focused on promoting high productivity among the team members by consistently stating clear goals for the group. I engaged every member in conversations in order to ensure that the plans were clearly understood. I also focused on consulting the members before implementing any decision. This was meant to avert any resistance to group activities through low participation by the members. Finally, I embarked on training the team members by giving them technical assistance. I also obtained feedback from the members on how productivity could be improved. The performance indicators included the number of conflict cases, achieved goals, and the rate of participation.
Table 3 summarizes my performance after the skill practice. There were only two cases of conflicts during the period. This was an improvement since I used to encounter more than six conflict cases per month in my team. Over 80% of the goals and objectives of the group were achieved within the set timeline. This was a significant improvement since the department (couple) had a performance record of earning less than 50% of its goals and objectives. Finally, participation in the activities of the team also improved. There were no cases of absenteeism or resistance for the involvement in team activities. Generally, the morale of the team improved. Similarly, most members improved their commitment to pursue the objectives of the group.
My score for the practical team-building skills development evaluation was 4.75, up from 2. Thus, I had improved from the second to the third quartile. I can improve my skills by focusing on conflict resolution within the team (Dale 2000, p. 154). What was surprising is that participation in teamwork activities improved significantly after providing emotional support to team members. My long term development plan will involve focusing on building an effective team in order to improve the company’s performance.
Table 5: activities for developing team-building skills.
|Performance indicator||Before the skill practice||After the skill practice|
|Rate of conflict occurrence||6||2|
|Successfully achieved goals||4 out of 10 goals (40%)||9 out of 10 goals (90%)|
|Participation in teamwork activities||7 participants out of 10 members||All members participated|
|Number of employees who I trained||3||7|
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