As a New Supervisor, is it Most Important to be Respected by Your Employees? Part One

February 26, 2018

As a New Supervisor, is it Most Important to be Respected by Your Employees? Part One

In the last post, as a new supervisor, you made a work change which everyone in your group liked but got you into hot water with your boss, Bruno. You bought popularity with your group at the expense of a misstep with Bruno. [1] In this post, I want to discuss what would happen if you went for being respected or at least making up your mind yourself and not giving into group pressure.

Reprise

In the conversation You had with Candice in a previous post, she pushed to implement a change and you agreed. Let’s see what could happen if you don’t, by picking up that conversation near the end.

Candice: Well, will you or won’t you?  
You: Ah… You are clearly unsure.
Candice: Come on, Mia. Everybody will be really happy if you do.  
You: Well, I guess so. But you are not listening to yourself. Instead:
You: You know, let me think about it. Don’t expect Candice to give up easily.
Candice: Ah, come on, Mia. You know it’s the right thing to do. Stick to your guns.
You: Yeah, just let me think about it some more. She may still not give up.
Candice: What’s to think about? Be a broken record.
You: Let’s talk again tomorrow.  

What should a manager do?

It’s a little tough to disappoint an employee, but it can be necessary to give yourself time to work through the issue. Questions you need to ask and get answers to are:

If it’s such a bad process, how come it’s been around so long? Is it inertia or is there some reason? Do some research. For example, how do the units who get advance notice use the info?

Who outside your group might be impacted by the change? If you don’t send the heads-up, it will save your group time and effort. But are you just pushing that extra time and effort downstream to another unit? Will your change have a big or negligible effect on them?

Is this a big enough change that you need to run the idea by Bruno? Maybe yes, maybe no. Supervisors need to know what’s within their authority. I’ll say more about that in another series of posts.

That was the easy bit

Say you realize that the change would be good for your group but not for the rest of the department.

Up to now, it’s actually been pretty easy. It is going to get harder. You might be tempted to let the issue slide and hope Candice will forget the whole thing. I know this option has the advantage of avoiding a discussion which is likely to cause bad feeling.

But if you don’t discuss your decision, Candice might rightly think that you’re being secretive, or don’t care about her opinion, or have caved to somebody else’s pressure rather than having come to a conclusion yourself.

I don’t deny that saying ‘no’ to Candice to her face might be uncomfortable but you are jeopardizing both the respect and liking of your employees if you don’t. So bite the bullet and talk to her. Next post.

[1] So, should you have asked Bruno’s permission for the change? Are you supposed to do that for every move you make? And what about the other supervisors on his team? Do you have to ask their permission, too? I will address this issue in a separate series of posts.

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