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What to do to let Juniors express their problems?

Generally speaking, new employees or juniors are shy and hesitant. They do not readily come up and talk about the issues faced by them with their team or managers. Whosoever the wrongdoer is, the entire team faces the consequences. So, it becomes an additional responsibility for the manager to understand this behavior and take measures to mitigate it.

Most of the time, their problem is not as big. Yet a lot of times, a very small thing creates a ripple effect and hence needs to be tackled well in the initial stages. In case of a technical problem, repeated trials by themselves may cause a delay and impact the work. Whereas, for an experienced junior, a bit of guidance just works fine. But in case of non-technical issues, even though each team member has a role to play but how a team tackles/ manages a problem is mostly in the hands of a manager. Sometimes, better communication skills have a good role in expressing the concerns among others, especially by addressing their direct peers.

a) If it is a mistake they have done

Following general perception, employees may not come to managers for solutions. They tend to work among themselves, work extra, and look for alternatives. But, whatever they do, a few problems that are beyond their control come to your notice. This is a very good chance for you (as a manager} to bring change in this behavior of theirs.

Irrespective of the intensity of the problem, as a manager, one should ensure that you are not becoming aggressive.

Focus only on the solution part, what can be done, either individually or collectively as a team.

Make sure you are making the course corrections and re-strategizing the tasks. Allocate the best resources for each task and monitor them closely.

Also, coordinate with other teams, if required to make the issue easier to handle.

How to make them tell you the issues?

  • As a manager, make sure you are handling the issue well with minimum friction. Once the issue is resolved, talk about the issue with the team members. Explain the importance of informing the issues early and what you could have done to minimize the intensity of the issue. Further, help them understand the technical mistakes they have done, what strategies they need to change in order to avoid such mistakes in the future. Suggest training, if necessary.

b) If they have negative feedback for you

Employees are generally concerned about future consequences affecting their appraisals and growth opportunities. So, this is a situation a manager has to be really careful with. He has to handle this situation for a longer period of time, as the consequences thought by the employees take place after a lot of time.

Sometimes, employees try to slip in this feedbacks to you. That would be the first opportunity for you to open up their thoughts. Initially, listen to their concerns. Don’t try to defend the points that they highlight. After you listen to their points, try to provide some clarification and assure them that they would be rectified in the future.

  • After the conversation is over, understand the problem areas. It could be a change that is required or it could be a miscommunication. In both cases, see what you can do and work on it.

  • Once you follow this diligently, employees understand your approach and believe you, your efforts, and your management.

  • So, when you handle one situation carefully, the other situations become easy to handle too because now your team is proactive. This first situation becomes a flag bearer for subsequent situations, and help employees believe in you.

Maintenance of this is the hardest because one odd situation can bring us back to square one. In all the cases, be patient and see how you improve your team and create a good communication platform.

In fact, here, you will realize the benefits of small talk, which should be encouraged too.

c) If there is a communication gap

When juniors are hesitant, it becomes difficult to bring them together on the same page. A lot of times all the team players, as well as the manager, are not on the same page in the creative or in terms of understanding a situation or in fact a project. Here, communication, that is, how you are expressing your problems, raising concerns, explaining your perception, and keeping your points become important. So, in this case, a manager should encourage that there is enough discussion for everyone to make strategies so that all are going in the same direction.

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