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7 Strategies That Let You Master the Most Difficult Conversations

Some conversations are more difficult than others

We all know them: Conversations that we should have, but keep postponing and avoiding. We just know that they will blow up. And yet, it keeps bugging us. Why is the operations team blocking our work? Why does my colleague revert my code changes without talking to me? Why does my boss pass off my work as his? There should be a way to have these difficult conversations without things blowing up and going all wrong. If you follow certain techniques and strategies, you will maximize the probability of success.

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How to Get to the Core by Asking the Right Questions

Before inventing solutions, you have to find out the cause

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to assess prospective new people managers, or Talent Leads, as they are called at trivago. One of the exercises the candidates had to go through was a simulated one-on-one conversation. I was amazed at the number and variety of approaches that were taken to find out as much as possible. Some candidates really got to the bottom of the issue. Those who only scratched the surface usually made one of seven mistakes.

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How to Build Rapport With Your People

Rapport connects people

Sometimes, you get to be the tooth fairy, other times you have to be the dentist. This Team Geek quote reminds us that, as a manager, you don’t always have pleasant news to spread. When you have to be in dentist mode, having built a strong relationship, or rapport, with your people can make the difference between an awkward monologue with a limited result and a healthy, candid, tough, but productive conversation that the other person will be thankful for. Here is how you can consciously establish that rapport…

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The Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Become a Manager

Are you ready for management?

Advanced engineers sometimes face an important choice: Do you want to stay on a purely technical track, or do you take on management responsibility? Switching to management is not a promotion, it is a career change. Therefore, this decision should not be made lightly. Since it is pretty different from engineering, many engineers are unsure what to expect, if they would enjoy it, or if they would be any good at it. Below are ten questions you should ask yourself if you are in this situation.

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How to Prepare for a One-on-one in Five Minutes

Only five minutes until your one-on-one

I believe that one-on-ones should be an essential part of a department’s communication structure. They help to detect upcoming issues early. They are a good opportunity to build rapport with your colleagues. They are good for giving and asking for feedback in a safe environment. They are great for developing ideas. In short, they have a lot of unique strengths that are hard to emulate through other forms of communication, and therefore they deserve thoroughness and diligence both in preparation and in follow-up. However, sometimes you just cannot find the time to prepare. Read on to learn how, in only five minutes, you can prepare remarkably well.

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7 Strategies to Increase Your Managerial Leverage

Levers: Which one to pull?

Emails. Incident reports. One-on-ones. Fine-tuning the new development process. Onboarding a newcomer. A request from another department. In the workplace, a lot of things can be calling for your attention at the same time, even more so as a manager or coordinator. It is not always clear what you should focus on first. You cannot do everything at the same time. Or, rather: You cannot do everything. Saying yes to one thing often means saying no to several others. By spending a lot of time on high-leverage activities, you can make the most impact given your limited time.

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Still-Face: What an Experiment With Infants Can Teach You as a Manager

Don't still-face your children, but also not your employees

A baby boy, just a few months old, is sitting opposite his mum, and wants to communicate with her. He makes some sounds, tries to make eye contact, smiles, babbles. Usually, his mum smiles back lovingly, tickles him, and shows how happy she is to have him. However, this time is different. This time, his mum is there, but she is not. She does not react to his looks. She does not react to his smile. She does not react to his babbling, or to him pointing at an object. Something is wrong

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Five Things to Remember When You Cannot Get Anything Done

Lots of work waiting...

A couple of days ago, I asked a friend: ‘Do you know these days when your entire time is so fragmented that you don’t even bother starting anything, because you know exactly that you will have to drop it anyway as soon as you start getting into some kind of flow?’ His response: ‘You mean like…every day?’ We had a good laugh, but it was only half-jokingly that he said it. Meetings and other appointments can break your day up into useless micro-fragments of time where you cannot even get an email finished. However, there are ways to counteract.

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How to Communicate Effectively as an Engineer Without Resorting to Management Speak

Don't resort to management speak!

I used to hate running meetings. I still don’t particularly like it. Sometimes it feels like I am throwing words at people who would much rather get back to their work, and who are only in the room because their calendar is telling them to. Then I think it’s my job to talk them out of their unwillingness, to motivate them, to get them engaged — only to find that I quickly run out of words.

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Why Job Titles Are More Than a Necessary Evil

Badly designed job titles and promotions can make people angry

Many young companies are proud of their flat hierarchies, short decision paths, and of everybody having a say about the direction of the product. One of the means they employ to achieve this is the lack of formal titles. The reasoning is something like: ‘If everyone is on the same level, then ideas will flow more freely. People will be more approachable, and new employees will be less intimidated.’ However, it does not always work out like that in the real world.

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