When social skills go missing

Source : The Times of India (Delhi)

Rather than considering it a difficult situation to be in, working with a socially inept manager can actually be a win-win for both if handled in the right way
Workplaces are fun if all factors are up to your expectations, but you have to deal with anomalies on a daily basis as well.While most professionals look for a manager who is intuitive, can mentor them for career growth and can become a friend at work, it becomes tricky to work with a manager who is socially inept. Managers are supposed to be ahead of the team members when it comes to dealing with situations and people, but what when the manager is a socially awkward person? Well, if you ask the experts, you would find out there can be a positive outcome of dealing with such bosses as well.Social ineptness is not well received any more in our times. Still, as a team member, you can always work towards improving the situation, says Sahil Chopra, CEO and founder, iCubesWire. “Better social skills are necessary in every sphere of life professional and personal. If your boss lacks it, you must take the initiative to improve the situation. Because, 1) socially inept bosses are often good persons, 2) by improving your boss’ social skills, you help yourself grow in your professional career, and 3) contribute your bit for the benefit of the organisation.

The first step, however, remains in the acceptance of the situation. Do not expect your boss to be a IMAGESBAZAAR superman. Accept him for the mere mortal that he is. Start giving him honest feedback. Identify what he values and then try to connect with him on that subject,“ says Chopra.

A lot of the times, managers are half informed on what is happening in the industry and therefore are not able to prudently take wiser decisions or make proper communications.What should be the plan of action in such cases? Sunil Goel, MD, GlobalHunt, provides an insight. “When a manager is socially inept, it is always more about formal communication than an informal one.Team members who are working with himher have to play a role firstly by giving a lot of information which helps in decision making, policy implementation and the appropriate time to communicate decisions. Secondly, when the managers are half informed about the industry updates, the team members should provide them with market data and other relevant information,“ says Goel. Doing this will not only get you brownie points from your manager, but will also help immensely in getting your work done, he insists.

Experts insist that understanding a socially inept boss and helping him deal with his shortcoming can also become a great support in chalking up a good career chart for you. It would not only help him professionally, but will also help in creating an ever-lasting bond between the two of you which will eventually help you in climbing up the professional ladder.Often such people have another side to their personalities, and if one is able to explore that good side, he or she may end up making lasting relationships.

Surabhi Mittal, HR head, LANXESS, talks candidly about how a situation like this can be handled skillfully. “Best thing that you can do as a team member is to approach him on a one-toone basis in a secured setting when he is relaxed and open to listening. Give him feedback in a structured and direct way.Also, there is one more side to it. Mostly, people are aware of their own shortcomings, but are wary of accepting it due to reticence or ego.They might be willing to change. So, the best thing to do is become a team with your manager and work together.This way, not only will you be able to build credibility with your manager, but will also be able to talk to him in a more open way.With social ineptness, there is absolutely no doubt that even he would be looking at someone to open to and help him sail through difficult times. So, win his trust and help him get over his shortcomings without being judgmental,“ describes Mittal. She insists on adapting a PEW method to provide feedback, where P stands for Perception, E stands for the Effect of that behaviour and W is the Wish to change that behaviour rather than being sarcastic.

Often such managers find getting feedback an alien concept. One way to counter this behaviour is discussing matters regularly and asking for feedback for yourself. As the camaraderie between a manager and a team member evolves, they will be able to help each other, enabling growth for both of them.

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