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Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a lot of heavy punches landed by both managers and their employees. Each was able to hang in there through the four rounds, but who will take the title?

Let’s recap the highlights from each bout!

Round 1: Management Melee

In this match, we took a closer look at the divide between managers and their employees. We learned that to bridge the gap, managers must demonstrate integrity, be willing to both teach and learn, and need to check in regularly. Employees should be honest, address their performance in real time, and embrace learning opportunities. Employees won this round, as the managers should set the tone for a relationship and motivate teams to work harder and smarter.

Round 2: Communication Conflict

It was Managers vs. Employees again as we dove into common examples of miscommunication in this round. Transparency and ambiguity have their uses when it comes to communication, but it’s not always clear how to handle them when perceived as a low blow. We discovered when to use these communication tactics as managers and how to effectively interpret them as employees. This match resulted in a draw, as good communication requires both contenders to step into the ring and shake hands.

Round 3: Feedback Feud

This round explored the importance of giving, getting, and using feedback effectively to improve the performance of both individuals and the organization. We revealed some tips inspired by the boxing world on keeping an ongoing dialogue between managers and staff, including early intervention, keeping feedback supportive and external, and nurturing the relationship. This round went to the managers, as employees often forget their role in inciting change through giving and getting feedback.

Round 4: Manager Misconceptions

In the final bout, we exposed several common misconceptions managers have when it comes to their employees. We offered advice on sharing wants and needs with management and recognizing them in our staff. In the end, it was a draw. This close round demonstrated the flaws in both challengers’ usual approach and reinforced the critical idea of taking the time to really understand a person’s problems before trying to solve them.
And now, the moment we’ve been waiting for!

Is our champion…. NO ONE?

That’s right, we have a draw!

Maybe you’re as stunned as Manny Pacquiao when he lost to Jeff Horn this past summer in one of boxing’s greatest upsets. Then again, you’re probably not – with so many close rounds, it’s likely that you’d also find it impossible to say who’s really won or lost here. That’s because contention between managers and employees is even less clear than boxing matches when it comes to awarding a prize. And while Horn is open to a Pacquiao rematch, the odds of an Employee and Manager rematch are not likely to end any differently. Managers and their employees rely on one another to succeed at their jobs. That means that if one person is losing, the other is losing, too. Sometimes it can be hard to see a troublesome boss or direct report as something other than an opponent, but we need to break that mentality if we want anyone to reach their full potential.

Here are the key takeaways on how to reach that win/win scenario for everyone:

1. Prioritize relationships

Feedback, goals, aspirations – none of these matter if you don’t have the foundation to build them together. Ensuring that you can collaborate effectively by improving your relationship is a crucial part of job satisfaction and success. Unfortunately, it also takes a long time to achieve. Don’t sweat it! Set some measures here just like you would with any professional goal and rest assured that it’s every bit as critical to your success as all the others.

2. Make sure you’re working together

Sometimes we think we’re working together when we’re actually competing against one another. To avoid this, we need to focus on alignment between our actions, our goals, and the company’s mission. How do your language, actions, and goals contribute to the team’s main objective? Can you see how you might be sabotaging things without realizing it? Let’s stay aware of the potential disconnect between what we’re doing and what we want to happen.

3. Keep communication open

Open, comfortable communication between all stakeholders is necessary if we want everyone to feel good at the end. However, that doesn’t mean we need all transparency all the time. With the right foundation of trust, we can be honest and open and believe in others when they talk with us. It’s not always information that we need out on the table; it’s more about feelings and intentions.

4. Understand before you act

How many times have you received advice from someone who clearly didn’t even understand the problem? Odds are that it’s happened to you a lot, and you likely shut down and were hesitant to share with that person again. Solving imaginary issues will only waste time and energy in the long run. No matter your role, you should work to read between the lines and understand what is really going on before you decide how to fix it. You just may be surprised at how much more effective you’ll be.

We’ve gone pound-for-pound here the past few weeks and appreciate all of you spectators joining us! Are you happy with the way the bouts were scored? What moves do you make to ensure that everyone in your company is a champion at the end of each day? Will you change your approach in the future?

We hoped you enjoyed our Company Contention series! Stay tuned in for continued blogs on management, millennials, and much more.