Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — Help a new manager out, I’ve never received training and it doesn’t seem readily available to me. I’m really stumped. I have a team that was working productively and harmoniously until one member started brining her personal business into work in a way that has been disruptive to the others’ productivity. No one has complained (although I’ve seen some eyes roll, still no complaints filed), but as their manager I see negative overall effect in output. Do you think speaking to her alone without complaint will make her even more sensitive or is otherwise de-motivating? I appreciate any help. — Manage This!
Dear Manage This!,
Meet with your problem employee alone and first (document it). Express your concern that she may be bringing her personal problems to work, and that may be what is negatively affecting her work performance of late. Identify with her issue that is affecting her choices and behaviors such as chronic tardiness, absenteeism, or uncooperativeness, etc. (you may or may not note that it affects the whole team’s morale, but tread lightly, keep the focus primarily on her performance (something she has power to change). Then identify your performance expectations of her as solution (i.e., take X time off and don’t return without a medical doctor’s note; or work benchmarks she can achieve by X-deadline(s)). Be specific. Get her agreement. Document. Follow up with her in scheduled benchmark meetings agreed to. If everything proceeds well, (unless your corporate policies require it) no need to bring HR into the mix at this point, but it’s there if you need formal documentation or another back-up tool.
As for the team, it can be brought up in team meetings (namelessly) as productivity issues or similar, and challenge them to solutionize as a team. Sometimes a manager needs to be a leader. Peer pressure can be a beautiful thing in deft hands.
Lastly, research online or in-house managerial training resources and classes you can get approved to attend. Build your own skills toolbox.
Inspire your people to succeed not just work,
Dear Manage This!,
Here is the hard part of leadership. You can’t avoid it. Sometimes you just have to pull an employee aside and say, “WHEN!” You are in the role of Big Picture Holder, so if you see the big picture going off course because of one person’s attitude, it’s your job to step in and try to get things back in the flow. It is clear that one person’s bad attitude can affect the productivity and morale of an entire company.
As the manager, you have the right and should have the impetus to talk to the troublemaker. But start with a single idea: compassion and understanding breed compassion and understanding. We don’t know what nuclear disaster has taken over this worker’s personal life to cause the negative shift in her. Connect her with company sponsored counselors, stress management professionals or other mental health support.
Realize that for the legal safety of your company, you don’t want to get embroiled in her issues, but you want to compassionately let her see how her behavior is affecting the entire office and the productivity and subsequent profitability of the company. This conversation is also your opportunity to document the issue should further intervention be needed. Keep and eye on things. Take notes documenting when and where issue reoccurs after your conversation.
Managing employees can be like parenting children— but with Child Protective Services watching over your shoulder. Remember, you are the boss, not the best friend. However, there is no reason that you cannot be a compassionate, empathetic boss who mentors his employees (yes, even the problem employees) to greatness.
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