Karren Brady gives career advice – from having difficult conversations with your boss to managing a team over Zoom

Karren Brady gives career advice – from having difficult conversations with your boss to managing a team over Zoom

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham United FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she helps someone who needs to have a difficult conversation with their boss and someone who is having trouble easing into their new management role over zoom.

Q) In my appraisal recently, my boss said that while I was doing well in most respects, she thought my time management could be better.

I find it hard to take criticism, so didn’t say anything at the time, but now I wish I’d stood up for myself.

As far as I remember, I’ve never missed a deadline, despite being very busy.

I know I should ask for another meeting to discuss it, but I don’t want to get upset in front of my manager if she criticises me. What can I do?

Ella, via email

A) It’s very frustrating to be criticised but not be given examples and told how you can improve.

If you don’t have the confidence to raise this verbally, then write your manager an email thanking her for the feedback, but saying you would like clarity on a couple of points.

Explain that you don’t think you have missed any deadlines so would appreciate a better understanding of where she thinks you are lacking, in order to improve on that going forward.

In all jobs, we have to have challenging conversations. This is obviously something you find tricky (as do many people), so instead of shying away from it, look at it as an area you can develop.

Difficult conversations can trigger a huge amount of stress, which is why some of us avoid such interactions.

Keep the conversation professional, be calm and don’t let yourself become emotional.

Take a deep breath when you need to, and use phrases such as: “I understand you may have come to that conclusion, but I would like to put forward a different perspective.”

Rehearse the conversation with a friend to build your confidence.

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

Q) I’ve just started working as an admissions manager for a university, which is a big step up for me, and much of the team I am managing are now working from home on a permanent basis.

I find it difficult when I don’t actually meet people in person for informal catch-ups, and all our meetings are conducted by Zoom and are very formally structured.

How can I feel more comfortable and show my team I have the leadership skills my role demands?

Laura, by email

A) It’s great that you are motivated and want to excel in your new job.

While it’s good to show initiative and that you want to demonstrate your leadership, the first thing you need to do is to fully comprehend your role and all your responsibilities.

Try to get to know your team both independently and as a group. Understand what each of them does, and how they work together to achieve team objectives. 

Find out their strengths and development areas so that, as their manager, you can work with each of them successfully and discover what they need from you.

Make sure everyone understands what they are working towards, and why.

Even though your team is now working from home, it’s important to come together in person – relationship-building is difficult when it’s all done virtually.

Suggest to the group that you have a monthly team meeting in person, and that you will also have informal one-to-ones on those days.

While many people love working from home, there is a greater understanding of the importance of in-person time, too, so I’m sure they will also recognise the benefit.

Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email bossingit@fabulousmag.co.uk.

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