The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed how and where we work. When the pandemic hit, many white-collar workplaces went virtual, and more people than ever found themselves working from home. Now, as most countries move into the endgame and lift restrictions, companies are faced with the choice about whether, and how, to head back to the office. Many are choosing not to return to in-person operations, or taking a hybrid approach, combining remote and in-person work.
Clearly, remote work in some form is here to stay. And as a manager, you shouldn’t be thinking about the virtual team as purely a stopgap measure. You need to consider ongoing management of virtual teams. And you need to figure out approaches that will ensure not only productivity and effectiveness but also employee wellness and job satisfaction.
You might start a telephone conversation with an idea about how it will go and what you will talk about. And many routine conversations are pretty straightforward. But what happens when the conversation gets into things you haven’t anticipated? What if the other person asks you tough questions that you don’t have easy answers for? In particular, what if your boss is pressuring you to justify your decisions?
There are a few things that you might have to do to succeed in this situation. For starters, you might need to just pause and gather your thoughts. Next, you might find yourself explaining your assumptions and clarifying some of the specific aspects of your decision. You might also try explaining what would have happened it you hadn’t made the decision you did. And finally, it’s a good idea to be able to accept feedback graciously and politely.
In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin Sonny, a English for logistics manager in Asia working for an American clothing company. Sonny is talking with his supervisor Cam. If you listened to our last lesson about a routine check-in, you’ll notice a big difference with this conversation. This time, Sonny has to think on his feet and deal with some tough questions.
1. What assumption does Sonny make about delivery times?
2. What does Sonny say might have happened if he didn’t make a tough decision?
3. What will Sonny do differently in the future based on the feedback he gets?
Now what do I mean when I say “routine” and “spontaneous” phone conversations? Routine means something we do often or something that follows a set pattern. But spontaneous means suddenly, without any planning. Having a spontaneous conversation in English is very challenging. Today we’ll start with a more routine weekly check-in, and our next lesson will show you how to handle more unexpected situations.
A weekly check-in is a chance to talk with your supervisor about how your work is going. That might include reporting your progress or the status of different projects or work. It might also mean sharing your successes and asking for help or guidance with challenges. And if you’re like most people, there’s always lots to talk about, so you may also have to request time to look at a specific issue.
In today’s dialog, we’ll join Sonny, a logistics manager for a clothing company called Boston Vintage. Sonny works in Asia and is talking on the phone with his supervisor Cam, who works in the U.S. Their conversation is a weekly check-in about recent work, challenges, and progress.
1. What topic does Sonny request time to discuss during the call?
2. What does Sonny report that he is making some progress on?
3. What success is Sonny happy to report?
Government spending throughout 2021 was a boon to the business sector. Jobs returned, production rose, and many countries ended the year on a positive note. But growth – and years of low interest rates – has raised the specter of inflation, or rising prices. Now all eyes are on central banks, especially in the United Stated, to see how they’ll respond. As the NY Times reports:
Federal Reserve policymakers have moved into inflation-fighting mode saying they would cut back more quickly on their pandemic-era stimulus at a moment of rising prices and strong economic growth. This move will cap a challenging year with a policy shift that could usher in higher interest rates in 2022.
Have you ever been in a meeting when someone says something and you think “hmm… I’m not really sure about that.” You might be unsure about whether it’s true, or whether it’s a good idea. We call that feeling “doubt.” And it’s important that you are able to express doubt confidently and politely.
Now, if you’re a little bit unsure of something, you can use the expression I just used, and say something like “I’m not really sure” or “I’m not 100% sure.” Or you could say very directly “well, I have a few doubts.” Another way to express doubt is with a question, like “Are you certain that would work?” Just by asking the question, you are telling people you have doubts.