Being Liked by the Employees You Supervise

February 12, 2018

Being Liked by the Employees You Supervise

The dilemma set out in the previous post is whether, as a new supervisor, you should supervise a change to the work that everyone in your group wanted. Under pressure from Candice, your former colleague, now employee, you okayed the change. Candice drops by the next week.

Candice: Hey, Mia. We released to the field three weeks earlier than we ever have. Looks like the change really worked.
You: Hey, great!
Candice: Yeah, everybody’s good with it. It’ll save a bunch of time and work.
You:  We should have done it a long time ago.
Candice: See, I knew you’d be what we needed.

You feel eight feet tall. You’re getting the swing of this! You supervise by listening to your employees and acting accordingly. After all, as Candice said, they know what’s really happening on the ground.

Your boss calls you in

A week later, Bruno calls you in. You’re pleased. You want to tell him about the success of the change you’ve made.

Bruno: How’s it going?
You: I think I’m getting the hang of things.
Bruno: Uh-huh. I just talked to Noah (a peer supervisor). He didn’t know about the release.
You: Oh, sorry, I’ll tell him right away.
Bruno: Yes, do that. But why didn’t he get notification?
You: It’s a new process I put into place. We were wasting a lot of time letting people know about the release beforehand. So we published it straight to the field and we were three weeks earlier than we’ve ever been.
Bruno: But what if Noah needed changes?
You: I can let him and the others know when it goes out and we can fix whatever he needs in the next release.
Bruno: Ah, I don’t think you’re quite getting the point, Mia.
You: But I’ll make sure that everybody knows.
Bruno: After the fact.
You: It’s the only way to do a fast release.
Bruno: Without running it past the rest of my team.
You: But I’ll make any changes in the next release!
Bruno: Mia, you need to be a team-player. Reinstate the routing process.
You: But—
Bruno: Mia, do it.

What went wrong?

You thought you would be heaped with praise, and instead you’re in the dog house. What happened?

You thought it was a good change and certainly your employees were satisfied. Which is important for a well-functioning team. But by focusing on what would make your employees like you, you forgot that there were other players like Bruno and his team.

In the next post, I want to spend a little more time on the perils of being liked.

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