Quick, What Do I Do?

SM series Volume 1

“I’m Supposed to Supervise These People!”

First Aid for Common People-Management Problems

www.quickwhatdoIdo.com ~ emily@perfworks.com

Emily A. Sterrett, Ph.D.



Table of Contents

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)

I have to conduct an important meeting. I’ve got to interview somebody. I’m supposed to be in charge of a big project. I need to make a really good decision. I’ve got so many deadlines and time pressures. I may need to let somebody go, and I’m not sure how to do it. I’ve got to do employee performance reviews, and I don’t know how. I may need some help with one part of my job, but I’m afraid to admit it. I’ve got to make a presentation to the ‘big wigs.’

10) I know I need to delegate, but how? 11) One of my people is late all the time. 12) I’ve got two people fighting all the time. 13) I think two of my people are romantically involved. 14) I have an employee who I think is being unethical. 15) I’ve got an employee who tries hard and just can’t do the job. 16) I have to supervise somebody I don’t like. 17) One of the people I’m supervising is my best friend. 18) I’ve got an employee who just won’t do the work. 19) I’ve got someone who is negative all the time. 20) I’ve got a lazy employee who isn’t motivated at all. 21) How closely should I be checking up on my people? 22) We’re not much of a team…and we need to be. 23) My people just will not accept any kind of change. 24) There’s too much goofing off around here. 25) I don’t know what to say when they tell me their personal problems. 26) My people are all complainers. 27) I’m supervising people who can’t speak English. 28) I’ve got too many young kids working for me. 29) Every time I turn my back they stop working. 30) I’ve got problems with the boss. 31) How do I handle all the gossiping and rumors? 32) I have a bad temper I need to control.

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


_____________________________________________________ What’s This Book All About, Anyway? _____________________________________________________
When a person sustains an injury, a challenge to their body, we administer first aid while we are taking them to the hospital. At the hospital they will get professional care. The answers in this book are like first aid for common supervision problems. They won’t substitute for professional care, i.e., training and business coaching, but they provide ideas for what to do first. If you follow these tips, like first aid, they may “save your life” as a supervisor or manager when you are in a pinch. They are guaranteed to reduce your stress level and help you feel more confident in your management role. Having a title—assistant manager, team leader, department supervisor—can make you feel really proud. Doing the job associated with that title is tough, though! Most companies promote you or hire you to supervise because you are good at doing the kind of work you are now supervising or because you had been around for a long time, so it was your turn. Unfortunately, relatively few organizations offer you much in the way of training for your management role. You have probably discovered that supervising the job and performing that job yourself are two entirely different things! You have been doing the best you can; sometimes what you do works and sometimes it doesn’t. Learning by trial and error like this can be a long and frustrating road. You don’t have to learn your leadership skills the hard way. There are simple things you can learn and put into practice right now—today!—to help you through some of your toughest challenges. That’s why this book was written—to serve as a straightforward reference guide for those times when you just don’t know what to do. All that’s needed from you is an open attitude and willingness to try some new things. This book is written from a supervisor’s perspective. It’s presented as a series of “challenges” you face. This book is not what your boss thinks you need to know or what some college professor thinks managers should do. It’s filled with the things YOU—the team leader, supervisor, or manager—know you need to know. It addresses the people issues you don’t know how to handle very well—situations that come up regularly. This book is not meant to replace good, solid leadership training, coaching, or mentoring. Take advantage of all opportunities you have for things like that to build your knowledge, skills, and confidence. But if you have limited opportunities to get good training, this book can be your life preserver in a sea of impossible decisions, little cooperation, few resources, and lots of pressure. Use it as your reference book. The truth is, despite the title of this series, being a good supervisor or manager (in other words, being a true leader) is never a “quick” process. It takes a long-term commitment to improving your knowledge and skills, and that can potentially take your whole working life. What is quick about this is that you can begin this process right away—with your very next shift on the job. Have you been feeling stressed out? Have you been feeling hopeless about your job? Keep reading. This book has the answers you can use right away.

” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Get somebody to take your place and avoid chairing the meeting at all costs. then everyone will be frustrated. hear progress reports. and reserve the room. Be sure that . and plan to use the minimum time you can get by with. Challenge 9 on making presentations may be helpful. and you will look disorganized. Begin your work by deciding the purpose of your meeting and what should be accomplished at the end of it. Locate a place to have your meeting. and place. When you notify them. Be realistic about this. brainstorm. Is your purpose to share information. A good agenda is simply an ordered listing of the items you will cover. It also makes you look good—like you are organized and that you mean business. or what exactly? You will also need to consider how much meeting time you need to accomplish your purpose. let them know exactly what the purpose is and how long the meeting will take. Select a date by checking with key people who need to be involved to find a convenient day and time. There is work to be done both before and after the meeting if you want to make it a complete success. then list critical ones first so you will have time for those if you get behind in the meeting. perhaps more in some cases. Notify everyone who should attend as soon as practical – a week or two ahead. ~~~~~~~~~~ There is more to a meeting than just the time you spend sitting in a room talking with other people. If you don’t have a clear idea why you are meeting and what you want to achieve. time. Make a general list of items to be included. If you are making the presentation yourself in addition to chairing the meeting. is a good idea. Be totally casual about it and just wing it on meeting day. make a decision. You might be tempted…but don’t you do it! Leading a productive and organized meeting is one of the most important things you can do to get the recognition and respect that will build your career. assign workloads.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 1. This doesn’t have to include every detail. Here’s how to lead a good one. One or two days before your meeting send an e-mail reminder to everyone with the meeting purpose. “I have to conduct an important meeting. solve a problem. it’s time to plan your agenda. Now that you have planned the basics. if your situation is urgent you will need to meet right away. Who will present these items? Will you do it? Will others present certain things? Make sure whoever is scheduled to present knows what is expected of them and how much time they have for their remarks. It’s a good idea to attach a copy of your agenda so people can be prepared with needed information when they arrive.

you should be prepared with good notes to speak from. then you should ask them. decide before you adjourn if you need to schedule another meeting. when. By noon most people are starting to get hungry and anxious to finish up. Begin on time or within 2-3 minutes of the published start time. Quick. decisions made or actions taken. focused discussion of your agenda items. Keep people focused on the item under consideration so discussion does not wander into unrelated territory. A good strategy for keeping meetings short is to schedule them for 11:00 or 11:30 a. Do not plan to wait until everyone gets there before you begin your meeting. again. and if so. In a case like this. it’s your responsibility to keep them focused on the issue at hand. if they would like to voice their opinion or ask any questions. If it’s clear that the business is taking longer than you expected or one item was not fully discussed. be prepared to ask some challenging. If the purpose of your meeting is to involve your group in some kind of idea exchange. You should also include who was present. you are not supposed to have all the answers. Do a quick verbal recap of what was decided and who will need to take the actions that were agreed upon. They should include a brief summary of information presented or progress on projects.anyone who has needed information will be in attendance or will provide ahead of time what you need from them. by name.m. let others do most of the talking.” so be sure you complete yours. Allow time for questions and relevant. make sure the meeting summary gets distributed. or electronic slides may help you get your point across—but may be completely unnecessary in informal meetings. and assignments made. This. open-ended questions about your topic. You should. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Don’t tell them your opinion right away but instead listen carefully for awhile so you can open your own thinking to the possibilities and ultimately make a better decision. arrive a few minutes ahead of the meeting time to be sure the room is arranged the way you want it to be. such as solving a complex problem. After the introduction. Pat yourself on the back for doing a good job with your big meeting! The one chairing the meeting nearly always has “homework. On the day of your meeting. Notes should not be too detailed. such as informing your team of some management actions or policy. Thank people for their contributions. then you should plan to introduce the issue or the purpose of the meeting. Visuals—such as handouts. instead. As follow-up. so they will be brief. whiteboard diagrams. Plan to have someone else take notes so you can concentrate on leading the meeting. If you have people who have not contributed during a meeting like this where you are developing ideas. so politely remind them of the topic. If people get side-tracked into other issues. shows your good leadership skills and shows respect for the people who did arrive on time. Sterrett 5 . If the purpose of your meeting is to give information. A cardinal rule of running a good meeting is to stick to the time you asked for and don’t run overtime.

She had looked at her schedule and found that by holding two meetings next week. She started out by listing her specific purpose: to summarize for her staff her findings on what they had told her was working in the department and what still needed improvement. the purpose of the meeting. ******** Karen was excited about her new job as the customer service manager at the wireless division of a regional telecommunications company. she knew each of her seven workers well. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. This would be tricky and would have to occur in two groups so they could maintain a minimum level of phone service for incoming calls. Karen reviewed the notes and listed four points that most people seemed to think were working. She had read some material on conducting a good meeting. observing her workers. according to in-house procedures. they need to be held accountable for that action. Karen sent out an email notice to her workers right away to tell them who would be attending which meeting. She also knew she wanted to make a good impression on the group for her first big meeting. her old boss. She knew her purpose was to inform her employees and solicit ideas for how to fix things. In her new job she was responsible for 30 full-time and 5 part-time workers. Karen had only been in her new job just over a month.Work to complete any actions you agreed to take. The culture was much more formal and less of a family. Things at her previous job were pretty informal. There were many small things that were mentioned by most people that were not working but she selected seven things that had been mentioned by the majority of people in one form or another. you have wasted much of your time in conducting the meeting. If you fail to be sure that the promised or assigned actions are taken. This man had been terrible at meetings. if she could have the meetings on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Sterrett 6 . Now it was time for Karen to meet with her group and report her findings. Being thorough with meetings shows your good leadership ability and builds your own confidence. she would be able to include all but three part-time workers. She called the receptionist to schedule a room for the meeting. If people agree in a meeting that they will do something. two of which seemed pressing because people had complained so vigorously. and check with others who agreed to complete certain items. She had also met with each one of her 35 people individually and gotten their opinions on what was working well and what could be improved in their department. People are more likely to follow through if they know you will definitely check back with them. Karen knew what she did not want to do in her own meetings. and learning the wireless business. In Karen’s former job she had “learned” about conducting meetings from her Sales and Customer Service Manager. which was pretty complex. she had spent most of her time being trained in her role. She had several ideas for how Quick. In her one month on the job so far. He was so disorganized and unclear that most of his meetings were a waste of time. and the location. She had been a customer service supervisor for a manufacturer before that.

Keep participants on track. Karen was nervous but felt really prepared for her meeting. She wanted to open the floor for suggestions before she told them what her own ideas were. Quick. She said she would need some time. She met with her first 17 people in the conference room and gave them a copy of her summary of her interviews. including decisions made and actions to be completed by participants. and stick to your allotted time. Like a good meeting chairperson. She thanked them for their honesty with her and told them she was committed to doing something about their most urgent needs right away. Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Plan the purpose and agenda of your meeting ahead of time. Follow up with brief minutes. She thanked them all for their participation and assured them that she would begin to gradually tackle these problems and things would improve. Send reminders to everyone that needs to be present. Karen thought she had done a good job with the meeting. At first everyone seemed hesitant to speak up. and that unleashed a floodgate of discussion. She got some great ideas. Karen stuck to her notes as she summarized her findings. and she asked for their support in the meantime. She continued to refine her notes in preparation for her meeting as she had time.to address the two pressing problems—scheduling inequities and training on new products. When Thursday came. one person did. Karen had a moment of panic that she was bombing. she asked the group for their collective ideas on how to tackle each one. It was apparent they were not used to being asked for their opinions. for fear of shutting down discussion if she began by telling them what she thought. That meant a lot! Karen looked forward eagerly to the second meeting with the rest of her staff. but she made herself be patient and wait for someone to speak up. After mentioning the two items that seemed to be most pressing. and at the end everyone seemed hopeful. Sterrett 7 . What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Finally. She was especially gratified when one of her workers who had been there for several years told her she thought it was a good meeting and most people were starting to have faith in her. Karen listened closely and took careful notes.

that is written by an expert (check out the credentials of the author). or even information that may have been published by a professional association like Society for Human Resource Management or American Management Association. The first thing you will need to consider is what kind of worker you are trying to hire. You may even be able to attend a training seminar to learn this important skill.” Don’t do either of these things. and if you are given the opportunity to select the next member of your own team. be glad for the chance. look for a person whose personality and values will fit with Quick.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 2. This is only a start. If you do not have a Human Resources Department. You can learn to interview confidently. Do not ever be embarrassed to ask for help with this. Treat it casually and do it “by the seat of the pants. Sterrett 8 . “I’ve got to interview somebody. ~~~~~~~~~~ If you are inexperienced at interviewing. They can often provide you one-on-one coaching or loan you a good book or video. lack of confidence and experience in interviewing is a common problem.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Panic and try to hand the task over to someone else. make a list of major duties the person will perform. it’s normal to feel a little nervous. if not. Go by the public library for a helpful current book or search online for information on how to interview. Treat this like the important task that it is. Here is what you should do. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. too. This means that as you think about your job vacancy you should consider what kind of person you need. Begin your preparation by asking your Human Resources Department for some assistance. (You may not have realized that it’s often not just the applicant who is nervous!) Interviewing is an important duty. rather than taking the person somebody else thought you needed. Do you need someone who is a good team player? Do you need someone who goes out of their way for the customer and is especially friendly? Are you looking for someone who is a quick learner? Someone who is just quick and highly motivated? Someone who pays careful attention to details? In addition to these personal qualities. You should look for personal characteristics. One of the secrets to mastering interviewing is preparing for it. Choose information that is recent. If you have an accurate job description this is a good start. You may also want to think about the working environment and about what may have enabled others to be successful in the past. Hiring experts generally agree that you should look not just for someone who can perform the job duties. you will need to seek out this information on your own.

Behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions are both legal and highly effective. Talk about the weather and whether they were able to miss the traffic. you want each question to elicit valuable information about the candidate. you can teach skills. these are probably safe subjects. and you certainly want to stay within the law. “What are your three best strengths?” and “What do you hope to be doing in five years?” are both examples of generic questions. if you ask the person about their family or where they are from. it’s harder to teach somebody to be a “good person. just to make friendly conversation. Volumes are written about this whole topic. what your role was. What would you say or do if you got such a call?” Quick. this is dangerous ground. It’s possible to hire for good fit while still valuing diversity in experience. For example: “We sometimes get very irate or difficult customers who call us. “Tell me about a time that you were involved in teamwork. they do not enable you to really get to know the applicant. gender. The “legal” part is really important. so you are well-advised to stick to lists of questions prepared by experts rather than making up your own. background. but the very best questions will be those that are specific to your organization. and at the same time you are able to assess their values and their personality by what they emphasize.your team and your company. then you ask each applicant. A behavioral interview question goes something like this: Let’s say you have determined that “teamwork” is one of the qualities you are looking for. There are many lists of legal questions circulating out there on websites and in books. While these are legal. in other words. In most cases. Situational questions are when you describe in your question a typical kind of situation the applicant could expect to face on your job if hired and ask them how they would handle it. so be careful here. In a nutshell.” After you have made good notes on paper of what your ideal candidate would be. You may or may not be aware that there are many kinds of information that you are prohibited by law from asking. If you are trying to be friendly and put the applicant at ease. or disability (with this last one you can ask if they can perform the essential functions of the job). It may elicit some information you are not supposed to have in the hiring process. race. your department. you’ll need to prepare some questions. You will want your questions to be legal as well as effective. you can get yourself in trouble if you are not careful. Sterrett 9 . and personality.” The applicant will talk about their experiences. Use a couple of these if you need to. Hiring experts say selecting for personal fit is number one—even if that person lacks somewhat in skill or experience. For example. and how the team functioned. and your job. national origin. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. religion. you must not ask any questions that even hint at eliciting information such as: Age.

This kind of preparation will make you much more confident when doing the actual interview. and go through your questions. This will help you later as you compare candidates or as Quick. Sterrett 10 . Ask all applicants the same base questions—as you have prepared them. as you should try to do with all applicants. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Ask a friend. They are the ones looking for a job.) While their answers are still fresh in your mind you may want to make a few more notes and complete a rating scale to give you a rough gauge of their answer to each of your questions. You will have to make a good impression on them. Will you interview all that apply? Does someone else screen the applications and give you the best ones to call for interviews? Do you have to look through all the applications or resumes yourself and pick out the best? If the latter. You want to have a little bit of choice to select from. to be sure they are good ones. Rate them 1-5 on each question you asked and assign an overall rating. B = pretty good—may be suitable (these aren’t quite as close as the first group but they could probably do the job). Depending on how many A’s you have. treat them with respect. or a trusted co-worker to role-play the part of the applicant. if possible. You are representing your company now. When you have finished your questions. Be pleasant and welcoming to put your applicant at ease. “B” candidates often turn out to be quite impressive when you meet them in person. your spouse. you will need to read carefully and sort applications into stacks: A = best candidates (these are the ones that best match what you know you are looking for). Make a few notes but do not write down every word. offer the candidate a chance to ask you a few questions. but the good ones—the ones you may truly want to hire—will be checking you and your company out pretty closely. or patronizing. You need to make eye-contact with the applicant whenever possible. When the interview time arrives. You need to treat all applicants the same—that is. conduct your interview in a room that is quiet and private. and you want to make a good impression on the applicant. Once you have drafted some questions ask your Human Resources Department or your own manager to look them over. too. Be careful not to come across arrogant. as you had planned. Proceed through your questions with them. just as they will want to convince you why they are right for the job. Always be polite and listen with interest to the answers each person gives. it’s true. you will more easily be able to compare answers given by each candidate. Once you have prepared a good set of questions you may want to practice the interview if you are a beginner.Consider how you will decide who gets interviewed. Be cordial when they leave and tell them what they can expect next. (“We’re interviewing this week and plan to make our decision by the end of next week” or whatever. you will need to decide whether you will interview some or all of your B’s. and C = don’t meet the minimum requirements. It is perfectly acceptable and even sensible to build on your base questions by asking individualized follow-up questions for clarification of their answers. If you stick with the same base questions. You will want them to be convinced that they want to work for you. unprepared. Don’t interview your “C” candidates.

Russ sent her a couple of reference guides he had in electronic format. Make your selection after careful consideration. Sterrett 11 . Notify them with a letter. if you can. ******** Home Accents was a home furnishing store with five retail branches in western Canada. and would have to begin interviewing in a few days. Russ. Most of the time you will not have an “ideal” candidate. the new floor manager for the newest location. had just lost one sales clerk and knew that another one was looking for a job. and he explained them while on the phone with her. After talking with Russ.you discuss the applicants with others who may also have interviewed them. He spent a lot of time on the phone with her. Select your candidate with a positive belief that he/she will be a great employee. Russ had said he would critique her interview questions if she wanted to send them to him. One of them included questions not to ask in an interview in order for the interview to be legally correct. training her and offering pointers for a successful interview. so she worked on that. It’s even a good idea for the candidates to be interviewed by more than just you. and then stick with it. Be courteous to the other applicants who were not selected. they may be able to help you “talk it out” to determine who is best suited. They deserve to know and will appreciate it. while the other top person has a different set of skills or characteristics that impressed you. He advised her to take a few notes on each applicant. was a man she knew only slightly. Make the offer through your organization’s proper channels. She had already advertised for replacements. Even if the others have not interviewed your candidates. But she did not really know how to do that. A second reference guide was a list of suggested interview questions. She had interviewed people two times previously and each time she was as nervous as her applicants. Treat them that way. Jessica. and she just knew she had botched it. Get feedback from others. choosing questions from the list he recommended and adding one of her own that Quick. Remember that they might be a potential customer or potential future employee for your organization. that is exactly what will happen. but she did not know where else to turn. in order to make your decision. She decided to call the home office for help. While she hated to admit her weakness. Is there someone else who can sit in the interview with you? Or is there someone else who can interview the person right before or after you do so? Having multiple perspectives on this decision can be helpful in picking the best-suited person. Russ was actually very pleasant and told her that’s what he was there for. The personnel coordinator. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. such as your HR representative. Jessica felt much better. and thank them for their interest. Jessica hated the idea of another bad interview even more. Usually one person will have one skill or advantage that another does not have. and then try to use a rating scale to evaluate how appropriate she thought they would be. In most cases.

“I guess I should have gotten back to you. I’m sorry that I let myself get busy. so I will probably get to try my interviewing skills again real soon. She called and offered the job to the one she thought was best. Jessica.she thought might be good. He responded right away with a few suggestions. She followed Russ’ advice and made her selection. Good luck. She emailed those to Russ. she decided. I hope I’ve chosen the right one. I know you can do it. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Russ. Jessica interviewed a total of five people over the next three days. The next week Russ called her to find out how it went. Everything you helped me with really saved me. “I’ve got another employee looking for work. Treat all those you interview politely and with respect. Believe in yourself. At least the interviewing part seemed to go much better.” Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Carefully list qualities and qualifications you are looking for. “Call me again if you need anything. but each one seemed to get easier as she built up her confidence in her ability to interview. Quick. I mean it. and some encouraging words: “You are well-prepared. I’ve got a good person selected who will be starting tomorrow. drop me a line and tell me how your new employee is working out.” said Jessica. We never know for sure we have selected the right person. Compose and practice your good interview questions. She was nervous at first. and you will do fine. She laughed and added.” “Excellent.” Good advice. If you think of it sometime. Rate the answers given by each applicant to the questions asked. and they agreed on a starting date.” said Russ.” “Thanks for everything. but with experience you will probably get better at knowing what to look for. Sterrett 12 .

You have some talent. so you appear organized and can get on with it. If you are taking over an ongoing committee or if you have no choice about the membership. ~~~~~~~~~~ If you are asked to chair a committee. talents. When you have a choice be sure to pick people with a wide variety of talents and viewpoints. and backgrounds. but don’t do it this way. and visibility. This leads to better results. It’s also wise to be sure you have representation from the full range of people or areas that need to be involved. it’s because somebody thought you were good. you can still work within these bounds if you go into it with a positive attitude and as much confidence as you can muster. some key people or groups have been left out. you will gain experience. in your view. consider this a compliment. Don’t decide all the issues Quick. Consider all those who may be touched by your project. and experience that are valuable. knowledge. contacts. you may be in a position to recommend they be added. Conflict can be a healthy thing. If you pick your best buddies or only people who have the same skill set as your own. Ultimately. You will also want to be sure you have a subject-matter expert on the committee to give the group a more thorough understanding of the process or topic you are working on. To fulfill its purpose a committee should be composed of diverse ideas. And that always looks good for raises and promotions. even if it also leads to more heated discussions and conflict.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 3. you may have some choice in selecting committee members. “I’m supposed to be in charge of a big project. Instead. your project’s acceptance and implementation will be more accepted when those affected have been involved all along. you have a great chance to learn and to show others just how competent you are. and get a representative from each area if you can. If.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Hand the job over to somebody else and stay in the background. Go to your first meeting with a general plan or agenda but also with an open mind. Remember that every time you have the opportunity to take a leadership role. do it as follows. Set your first meeting time and notify the participants. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. If you take on your committee challenge with a positive and grateful attitude. If this is a newly-forming committee. Sterrett 13 . Go in with all decisions made and just tell everybody what to do. Even if you think you don’t have time for yet another project. you are handicapping the committee. You might be tempted.

You may be able to brainstorm ideas or consider various perspectives in your discussion. The first meeting may be devoted to simply getting yourself organized. remind them to focus on the topic. It is inconsiderate to those people who are on time if you begin late. Don’t wait for stragglers. If people are late. Get everyone’s opinion on why they are on the committee and what they can help with. Come to some kind of common statement of purpose for your work that you can all believe in and support. Elect someone to take notes or adopt a rotating system. one of the first things you should do is discuss what your purpose as a committee really is. When the group has decided on the actions that need to be taken next. Allow discussion to flow. People resent having someone come in and tell them what to do. get Quick.before you get there. a change in leadership is a good time to remind people why they are all there and to realign everyone’s goals. Get each person to write their thoughts down without signing them and read these aloud. Discuss who you are accountable to and how you will let them know your progress. If the group has been going on awhile.) Make sure you give everyone a chance to participate. If you get no further than building a framework for further work together. For those who are quiet. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett 14 . they will learn to arrive on time. if people get completely off the subject. Several people can also break up a big project into manageable tasks without being too much burden on just one or two. At least by the second meeting you should be able to prepare an agenda that focuses on having the group discuss steps or actions that need to be completed. How long do you have to complete your assigned work? How will you know when you have succeeded? Spend time in your first meeting looking at the end result that you intend to accomplish before you talk about how you will accomplish it and who will do what. even though it may not have been the first choice for some of them. Whether this is a new group or an ongoing group with a new chairperson. you have accomplished a great deal. The reason you have a committee rather than just having one person make decisions is that multiple heads are better than one.” How often will you need to meet? Are cell phones and pagers allowed in the meetings? How will decisions be made? By majority vote? By consensus? (Consensus means everyone can live with this decision. Assign them “homework” of thinking about what steps need to be taken to achieve your purpose or complete your project as you have defined it together. you may need to specifically ask them by name for their ideas. Just because you are in charge of the project does not mean you have to conduct every meeting. Review the “meeting rules. You need to approach your first meeting with a “what do you think” mentality. this person can help you keep the group on track to pace yourself so you can cover the agenda. You may wish to have someone who is responsible for timekeeping also. Begin your meeting on time or within a couple of minutes of the starting time.

discuss whether to ask another committee member to take over. As you get into the business of your committee. If you are having trouble getting the work out of one person. Ask everyone present for their input on what went well and what could have been changed or improved to make things go even smoother next time. save that for your debriefing meeting. Then stick to your ending time. Set an ending time for your meetings as well as a start time. If some members of your management can attend this meeting. you will accomplish your purpose. It’s a good idea to also check with the person who’s responsible for an action ahead of the due date for that item. and you will even enjoy the process. Be sure to hold everyone accountable for their work. Review Challenge 10 on delegating work. and dates. your meetings will normally have one of two purposes: 1) to report progress or status of various items and bring everyone up to date—this way there are fewer uncertainties. when all is said and done. tasks. then proceed to accomplish it within the meeting. See Challenge 1 on conducting an effective meeting for additional tips. If you are responsible for the committee’s work. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. You may wish to alternate the purpose of your meetings between the two types or simply have a set length of time in each meeting for both of these functions. and people admire and appreciate a chairperson who is organized. Sterrett 15 . If you are getting pressure to get this committee to produce. At the end. Conduct productive meetings by planning ahead to know what you want to accomplish. coke and popcorn and an hour of socializing may be Quick.people to volunteer to complete those tasks and get a verbal commitment to a completion date. You get more accomplished when you know your time is limited. one person’s work is often dependent on work completed by another person. let them know you’ll be checking in with them on how they are doing. Be sure you always have a date and time for your next meeting before you end your current meeting. make sure you publicly thank those who accomplish their agreed actions. You need to do this without micromanaging the people—let them do their assigned tasks their way. this is often helpful. It often helps them if you send an email reminder or give a quick call to see how they are progressing on their action items. consider whether you need to replace the reluctant member. celebrate your group’s accomplishment of successfully completing your project! A celebration is not the time to solicit complaints. If they can’t complete the work. Depending on the duration and importance of the project. it’s usually helpful to have an organized debriefing of how the project went. With a task force or project committee. If you conduct your meetings in an organized fashion and follow up appropriately on all activities. Being a good project manager simply means that you keep yourself organized and stay on top of the various activities and completion dates. In your meetings. sit down with them and have a frank discussion. too. 2) to openly discuss ideas or problem-solve for solutions when barriers have been encountered. Find out why they are dragging their feet. Then. Prepare a calendar or a spreadsheet for yourself with names.

Jody was flattered by being asked. This year her boss and the local UW campaign director had come to her and asked her to be chairman for the county employees’ campaign. Then. Jody held a final meeting at which time they spent thirty minutes making suggestions and notes for next year. ******** Jody was the office manager in the county treasurer’s office. consider taking them out to eat or having a catered meal. he would help her get organized and get started. and it was quickly over. Jody felt a little more confident as she got into it. She then opened up the floor for discussion of the specific projects or activities they would use to create awareness and interest and get people to give. But she had never been in charge of such a big project or chaired a big committee composed partly of people she didn’t know. She set the first meeting date and time and prepared a basic agenda. but she was concerned that she had never been in charge of a committee or a project like this. Sterrett 16 . She spoke to her committee members on the phone and welcomed each one. Jody got out her notes from last year. Jody held people accountable. She had served on the United Way campaign committee last year. By the end of the four-month project.sufficient. based on the discussion. It was a lot of work but she enjoyed it. She began the meeting with having everyone introduce themselves since they were from different offices in the county and not everyone knew each other. She made up a chart that listed what kinds of things had to be done by when. Jody was very proud of what she had done. Her boss helped her lay out what had to be done by when. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. She prepared copies of her chart of what had to be done by when. But before everyone left. Then they all reviewed Jody’s timeline of activities and made a few modifications. they brought out the ice cream and everyone made their own ice cream sundaes. Invite key managers to join you to also offer their thanks. Oh. They reviewed why they were there and briefly talked about their successes in the last few years. Make some positive comments about the group’s accomplishments and publicly thank them for their hard work. she had run some informal meetings with her four staff members and chaired a couple of small committees at church. People will appreciate the celebration and appreciate you as the project manager for recognizing their hard work. At her Quick. what they would have to decide at the next meeting and when the next meeting would be held—one week from today. they had done slightly better than last year. At each weekly meeting. but she was confident that she had prepared well and she kept telling herself that it would go just fine. Or for a larger project. They got to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company for the last thirty minutes. Her boss agreed that if she would do it. When the campaign was over. She was a little nervous about this first meeting. Jody quickly reviewed what each person would be working on. The boss helped her to consider the make-up of the committee and draft a letter to prospective volunteers. and she readily admitted that she could not have done it without her great committee. She had allowed an hour and 15 minutes for this first meeting.

Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Plan carefully who will be on your committee – be inclusive. Sterrett 17 . Quick. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and Jody even got applause. Spend first meeting getting organized and reviewing your purpose and goals. The group received many compliments on their work. Jody also arranged for the county administrator and several department heads to join them for the celebration. Assign activities and completion dates. Follow up with people to remind them of their task and hear about their progress. 5) Celebrate successful project completion.boss’ suggestion.

The first thing to do is to clearly define the question or clarify the issue. That means write it down as a question in words that make sense to you instead of a jumble of uncertainty spinning around in your head. “I need to make a big decision. Here’s what to do instead: ~~~~~~~~~~ Avoiding a decision simply allows things to get worse. Don’t follow temptation and make an important decision like any of the above.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 4. You may not let them make the final decision for you or even vote on their preference. Especially if it is something that is going to affect people on the job. Make your decision and let them know in no uncertain terms so people get the idea who’s boss. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Make a quick decision because of pressure you feel to get on with it. Rather than “Which new software –sharing package do we need?” think in terms of whether software is even the solution and write your question like this. Here’s another example: “What can I do about Pat?” is a better question than asking “How can I get rid of Pat?” The first wording of the question opens up possibilities whereas the second wording suggests that you already have made a decision. but Quick. Whenever possible.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o o Keep putting it off. not closes off possibilities. If you are looking at a choice between “Do I do this?” or “Do I do that?” you should try to think whether there is a third possibility or a fourth. Sterrett 18 . if not it certainly brings you one step closer to an answer. Rather than making your decision more complicated. try to write the question in its broadest form. they should have some information ahead of time and be allowed to have input in the decision. That’s right—write it down! Just defining the problem in specific words may bring some clarity about the decision. Generally. you may find you can combine the best features of all your alternatives into one intelligent solution. “What are the possible solutions to our problem of data sharing between departments?” Write the question or issue in a way that opens up your answers. let your team participate in making a decision with you. because no matter what you decide somebody’s not going to like it. and making a heavy-handed or emotional decision often takes you in the wrong direction and may back you in a corner. it’s just a matter of when and how.

The reason to get away from it is so your intuition or “gut feeling” can begin to operate. Speak your decision. but the more committed you are to your decision. and every time your mind wanders back to your problem. then being committed and unwavering in your decision is much easier. You can now begin to eliminate the choices that just don’t seem feasible. analyzed possibilities. that will never work. Again. You let your logical mind operate when you brainstormed. Don’t be afraid to make a preliminary commitment to a solution. you also get better buy-in when it comes time to implement any changes. If you use a careful process like this. Take a deep breath and state out loud and with confidence what your decision is. Narrow it down to the idea that is probably the best choice. even with a small Quick. You are not locked into this decision. just trust yourself that you have done your best for now. too. Make yourself let it go completely for a minimum of 24 hours.” and leave it off the list. Brainstorming works better with a group but if you have to. That’s why you put it away for a short period of time. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Allow yourself to sleep on it overnight. and act on it immediately. let it sit for a day or even several days—unless your situation is truly urgent. so stick with it! We can never be completely certain of the outcome in any situation. set it aside completely. write down all ideas—on paper. the more likely your decision will turn out as you want it to. on a whiteboard. Write down as many ideas as you can think of that might remotely solve your problem. You can brainstorm possible answers to your question. Most of the time your logic and your “gut feeling” will both join forces and tell you the same thing. Before you pick this alternative as the final answer or solution that you will implement. You not only get a better solution or decision when you have many heads considering the problem. tell it to others. During those days of taking a break from the decision. Once you have your list of ideas start going through each one and thinking of the pros and cons of each. although most people will admit that their gut feeling is seldom wrong. go with whichever is normally strongest for you. Write down every single thing you can think of at this stage. What good could come if you choose each of your alternatives and what possible negatives might occur? Your brainstorming partner can help with this analysis and evaluation. when you have to make a decision on your own because it’s not advisable to tell others or you are prohibited from doing so. and selected a tentative solution. Now it’s time to let the other side of your brain work. There will probably be times. In order for intuition to become clear you have to allow incubation time. If intuition is telling you one thing and logic something else. It’s just temporary right now while you try it on in your head. Go back to your preliminary decision after a day or two.it will help if you get their ideas. You have made a good decision. do it with a partner or even alone. based on your criteria or your evaluation. Don’t say “Oh. however. Sterrett 19 . on your computer. make yourself think about something else instead.

he’d save some money and still not hurt anyone too badly. and it would take awhile for Russell. Quick. too. Roy had two other possibilities. You want to remain as flexible as possible in case new information indicates your solution needs a little modification. Sterrett 20 . give it a fair chance to work. like he used to do when he started out. ******** Roy was facing a tough decision. He could also lay off Eddie and have one of his electrician helpers cover the warehouse and the re-ordering of parts. small adjustments are often needed. was a real find—a great electrician with just the kind of experience that Roy had been looking for. But do not change your decision completely unless and until there is clear evidence that your alternative is not working. Give your solution some time. but he liked the suggestion of making a list of pros and cons of the other possibilities. and have his parts manager cover the phones and walk-in traffic. If this occurs. but he made sure everybody knew it. he decided to try his wife’s suggestion that he reduce hours for everyone. and was nearly convinced that it should be Eddie he let go. There was just no easy answer here. He pondered and worried. He could lay off his office manager. If you start second guessing yourself. the parts manager.action in your chosen direction. Business had taken a downhill turn during the recent slump in the building industry. and now he had ten…and that was his dilemma. If he cut back everyone’s hours to 35 instead of 40. But reality was reality. Letting Carolyn go would also mean that Roy would have to take over the books again himself. He was torn and did not really want to lay off anybody. his last hire. He really needed everybody. As a small business owner. Eddie worked pretty hard. When Roy talked to his wife about his dilemma that evening. Eddie. she suggested he make a list of the pros and cons of laying off Carolyn and of laying off Eddie. But Josh. and he’d hate to lose her. He was just concerned about how to pay them until business picked up again. so who should it be? Roy knew that a company probably “should” lay off the person who was hired last. Recommit yourself to your decision daily and move confidently toward it. So he proceeded to do just that. to learn the job. He hoped to weather the slump by laying off only one person. think about or do something else entirely. She also suggested he think about another possibility: cutting back on everyone. Roy wasn’t sure about that idea because that would hurt everybody and not just one or two. Carolyn was such a good worker. and he simply could not afford to keep all his people on the payroll any longer. begin your brainstorming process all over again with the new information you have received. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Just for the heck of it. Carolyn. the helper. would complain bitterly about that. He had started out with only one employee seven years ago. Nobody knew the parts like Eddie did though. Proceed confidently that you will be able to make the adjustments that will enable everything to work out this time. he had watched his electrical contracting business grow.

Brainstorm alternatives and look at pros and cons of each. With that behind them and not enough new work in sight. and he realized hadn’t thought about it all day. They all knew the reality that business was slow. Quick. He thought about his problem a few times. He was beginning to believe that the best idea would be to cut back everyone by five hours a week rather than lay off one person. Thursday night came. He decided he would call a meeting for tomorrow afternoon when he gave out paychecks. Roy decided to let the decision wait a few days. During the rest of the week Roy got pretty busy with the big commercial job he and his crew were doing. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Now he really needed to decide what he was going to do. He was sure people would complain but maybe not so much that any of them would leave. and that meant he would have a few more days to think about his decision. Narrow the field to a preliminary answer. By the end of the week they should be finished with their current big job. Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Clearly write out the decision or question in words that make sense to you. Because he just wasn’t sure what to do. Something was telling him this was the best answer.” 5) Commit to your chosen alternative and make an immediate step in that direction. he knew Friday would be a good time to make a move. Move away from your possible answer for a few days to get in touch with your “gut feeling. Roy went to sleep that night believing he had made the best decision possible under the circumstances. Tomorrow was Wednesday.He did some figuring about how much money this would save him and was surprised to learn that he would save just a bit more than if he laid off Eddie. Sterrett 21 . but he was honestly too preoccupied to fret about it much. so they couldn’t blame him too much.

you may be tempted to: o o Lose your cool and take your stress out on your employees. Once you have your ideas jotted down. try this. When you are comfortable. which of my activities is most important or should be completed first?” Make yourself remain calm. “I’ve got so many deadlines and time pressures. Relax and get yourself comfortable and make sure there will be no interruptions. Show the boss a list of your tasks and your Quick. not tense. and learn to deal with your stress effectively. think about this question: Based on what I know about our work priorities. Tell him or her you’d like help in prioritizing all your responsibilities.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 5. Before you do something you might regret.” ____________________________________________________________________ If it feels like you are getting more and more dumped on your plate. Begin calmly making notes on your pad. Sit down at some peaceful time off the job (It will be worth it to use one of those rare and precious hours!) to take stock. as you ponder this. if at all possible (see Challenge 10 on delegating). Writing them down and beginning to organize them helps you feel like you are regaining your control. get your manager’s help with setting your priorities. If you don’t write your ideas down in some kind of order. set up an appointment with your boss to talk about your priorities for the next few weeks or months. When you meet. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. they will continue to float around in your head and feel overwhelming. Sterrett 22 . let the boss know that you want to do a good job with your assignments. Complete this sentence. there are three important things you should do: delegate some tasks. you’ll have to come back and try this again. Have a pad and a pen with you. you now have a plan. If you doze off. and you’re feeling overwhelmed right now. When you return to work. ~~~~~~~~~~ If you are overloaded. Quit your job in hopeless frustration. (The numbers indicate the priority number.) 1) “I think I should be doing…___________ because… 2) “I think I should be doing…___________ because… 3) “I think I should be doing…___________ because… If you fail to stay calm you will be too anxious and confused to complete this task. Explain that you need your boss’ guidance on this matter so you can be sure you are doing what is expected.

and be sure to let your boss know ahead of time if it looks like you won’t be able to meet your projected target dates for completion. 1) Schedule free time and family time in your planner. A good belly laugh will relieve a lot of tension. Consider making it a family activity. enjoyable. Sterrett 23 . Other than those essential priorities. 4) Laugh. less stressful) hobby. Try these ideas. Your organization. Do you read? Go to movies? Collect antiques? Garden? Fish? Make time to regularly engage in a fun. 3) Exercise. would gladly take all the time on the job you are willing to give. If you have a family. Keep your notes from this meeting. then do something playful on your own: run. “Play” of some kind is a very good thing. If you do not. None of us can completely eliminate all sources of stress. how to handle it more effectively so it has less of a negative impact on our physical and mental health. The other thing you must do to better handle the pressure is to learn to manage your stress. 5) Find a hobby that’s fun and relaxing. be willing to let things go. make good notes about what your priorities should be and why. Put this in your planner. Be sure to let your boss know your estimates of a reasonable goal for finishing all the items on your plate. Bosses generally do not like surprises. The boss may be genuinely unaware of how much you have going on. Get over the idea that it’s not “adult” to play. find a time and place that you can take a brisk walk for 30 or 40 minutes three times a week. all of us can learn. either because of his or her own high level of stress or worries or because the boss is not a highly skilled manager. 2) Give up all optional commitments that you can. Do something daily to make yourself laugh. dance. Engage in your favorite kind of workout. By having a meeting and keeping your notes you will be protecting yourself in case the boss or someone else from your organization later comes back to you upset because a certain task is not completed. non-competitive (i.e. especially when you offer reasons. Quick. however. if it is like most. You will have documentation of your assigned priorities. play with them and be silly. Stop saying “yes” to every request for your time and energy. you can even make it a family activity you can all do together. and do it faithfully. If you have children. Set some reasonable limits. Let him or her know you have been doing your best to manage your time and responsibilities. be a clown. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Ask yourself this question: “Could someone else do this obligation as well as I can?” It’s not possible for someone else to be a substitute parent or spouse/significant other. If the boss does not agree. It’s quite likely the boss will agree with your priorities. watch a cartoon.. Show the boss the list you created in your relaxation exercise. You need to get your mind completely away from your job and release the pressure. and work other commitments around these important activities. At the least.estimate of how much time and intensity of effort will be required for each. Get him or her to verbally make a commitment to you about what your priorities should be. yell.

and in that time his company’s sales volume had nearly doubled. When he started he had a staff of four purchasing agents. If the information from vendors was all in one place. We could use the money we save to buy a more functional tracking system that we could integrate with the systems of each of our vendors. when he first brought up the idea at the meeting about how they could all become more efficient. Everything seemed to operate in crisis mode. since his company operated on a just-in-time inventory policy and maintained only limited in-house inventory of parts. Stress-reducers are somewhat individual. Something as simple as three deep breaths will help. “If we could enter into some long-term partnerships with vendors we could probably get better rates. we can only track one vendor at a time.” Other people chimed in registering their agreement. and Ralph was working long hours. and delegate work appropriately (You’ve just got to read Challenge 10!). He and his staff were responsible for maintaining inventory for his company’s three assembly plants that made various makes of car audio equipment. He had been in his job four years. you are definitely kidding yourself. overworked supervisor. Keep your daily work hours reasonable. In fact.You may have discovered other things you can do that bring your stress level down. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Ralph didn’t think there was much hope of streamlining anything. And if you think they can’t get by without you. the general manager. but he figured he had little to lose by presenting the idea to his staff. rather than being able to compare them side by side. The key is to get away from the source of your stress and get your mind on something completely different. and take vacations. The boss helped him prioritize a few of his current obligations and then basically said to him: there’s waste in the system. find it. He had gotten up to a staff of seven. One mark of a good manager is how long he or she can be away from the job and the team or department function pretty well. one of his agents spoke up immediately and offered an idea. Sterrett 24 . Train your people to cover the essential functions. This Quick. Don’t kid yourself that because you are working all the time. you become less effective when you are on the job. about feeling so overworked. As it is now. do it regularly. ******** Ralph was the purchasing manager for the northwest region of an electronic assembler. Whatever works for you. If you never think about or do anything except the job. it would make us so much more efficient. but had lost one position several months back in a downsizing. She said. No matter what! Nobody wants to work for a cranky. but he suggested that Ralph get input from all his employees about how to streamline the processes and become more efficient. Ralph went to see his boss. Now his resources were really stretched. take off at least one entire day weekly. Any change in shipment and delivery of components would cost down time in productivity. Take the pressure off yourself by getting some help in carrying the load. The boss gave him a few examples of what he meant. you are productive all the time. any delay was cause for immediate scrambling to find an alternate supplier. Research clearly shows that people accomplish more work and better quality work when they take regular breaks.

2) Discuss your draft list with your manager. out of habit. Points to remember: 1) Develop a draft list of priorities as you see them. if she would help him work on it. We should have done this before. Something like this has the potential for making all our lives easier. but we’ll all pitch in and help you if you and Sally will just look into this. “I know you are already feeling overworked. including how long tasks will take. the agent who presented the idea. Sterrett 25 . even though he spent four to six hours a week working on the new project. and he was just going to have to find the time to do the research and planning necessary to make it work out. He asked Sally. Ralph realized that this was important. Before he proceeded too far. and I’m glad you are making time for it now. including the new tracking software. sometimes it’s surprising how much you can get accomplished if you start looking at things a little differently. You know. 4) Learn to handle your stress more effectively by taking time off and proactively using stress reducers that work for you. Ralph. Ralph was feeling more hopeful again and acknowledged to himself that he was dealing a lot better with the stress level now. 3) Involve your team and delegate where possible. I guess I’ll have to be the one to sign any new agreements with vendors. “This is exactly what I meant. and somehow the work got done. Ralph felt so overwhelmed that he hated the idea of taking on another project. Quick. Ralph had just never had a chance to pursue it before so. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. The boss was delighted and especially happy that they had a way to pay for it. especially since we are so understaffed. Ralph’s staff was as good as their word. things continued as they had been.” A couple of the others agreed.issue had been raised once before about entering into long-term contracts with vendors. It’s a matter of balancing the priorities and reshuffling what has to be done. He would have to be the one to offer proposals to the vendors. and get the boss’s direction. Someone else on his team sensed his hesitation. Let me know how it’s going. It was obvious he didn’t have much enthusiasm for the idea. Ralph consulted with the boss again and told him about his department’s recommendation.” Ralph and Sally continued to work on the project and in four months they had new agreements with two vendors and two others under consideration.

____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 6. “I may need to let somebody go, and I’m not sure how to do it.” ____________________________________________________________________ Your first reaction may be to: o o Say it quickly and emphatically and be done with it as soon as possible. Beat around the bush for fear of upsetting them.

But don’t do it like this. There are some important things you need to do before you fire someone, so use the following approach instead. ~~~~~~~~~~ Before you do the firing, you need to be sure you have tried every possible alternative to avoid this outcome. Because replacing someone is expensive, termination should be a real last resort. If you have a human resources department, you should be working closely with them by this time. Unless the offense was particularly severe or dangerous, you are unlikely to be firing them without a series of progressive discipline steps. Be sure you have carefully followed these steps and kept records of everything that took place in your meetings with the employee. If you are in a small company and neither you nor anyone else knows the correct things to do in a progressive discipline or corrective action, you can try the following discipline steps. First of all, be sure you have met with the person and counseled with them on several occasions. Most companies give an employee a couple of verbal warnings and, finally, a warning in writing before they consider firing. At each of these verbal warning sessions you should discuss their unsatisfactory behavior, and be sure they clearly know the standards or expectations for acceptable performance. In other words, are you absolutely sure that you have explained to your employee what they did wrong and what to do to improve the situation? After each such discussion you should write down a summary of the meeting, describing what was discussed. Be sure you date and sign it, give a copy to the employee, and keep it on file. This is important for documentation purposes. Assuming you have correctly following the above advice or your company’s own specific discipline process, and firing them is the only choice, you need to ease up on yourself. If you have honestly done your very best to help this employee be successful, then firing is simply the natural consequences of their action or lack of action. You have performed your supervisory responsibility well, so go into the termination interview with confidence. If your employee is doing poorly, he/she probably is not happy in the job either. The job may not be well-suited to his or her interests or temperament. Not only does the

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


employee not like it, but they certainly know that their performance has not lived up to expectations. They know this because you have done your job and discussed this with them on several occasions. So termination is not a surprise. If it is a surprise, you haven’t done your job up to this point. Reread and follow the advice in this section up to this paragraph. When you bring someone in to terminate them, sit down with them privately and be as cordial as you can. Nine times out of ten they know they aren’t doing well enough to continue. You can say, “We gave this our best shot. You will be happier somewhere else.” Leave them with some dignity and wish them the best. Be clear that they need to clear out their personal items immediately or whatever you want them to do. If you have not counseled with the employee and documented these efforts, or if they have received one or more satisfactory performance appraisals prior to termination, then you are on shaky legal grounds if you fire them in some states. Many states recognize wrongful discharge. Protect yourself by being sure you have followed all the required steps. You may want to get your boss to check with a legal advisor to be sure the organization is protected. What you want to accomplish in a termination interview is an amicable separation where you do not concentrate on blame but simply acknowledge that it’s not working. This allows the employee and your organization to both move forward from here. An employee that you terminate in a positive and respectful way may even come back to you later and thank you for waking them up and forcing them to make a change. ******** Mary Beth was director of a day care center. She had been observing her new employee, Rachel, closely over the last two months. She had several concerns about Rachel. First she had been late for work on her early shift nearly once every week. Their day care regulations required them to have a minimum number of staff present at all times, so when Rachel was 15 minutes late, they were in violation of state regulations. Mary Beth had talked to Rachel three times about this problem and each time it improved—for a week or two. Then the same old thing started again. Rachel spent too much time with two of the toddlers she loved and practically ignored the three others in her group that she did not like. Mary Beth had talked to her about this, too, and had kept careful records of these conversations with Rachel, as she had been instructed to do in some training she attended last year. Again, things would improve for a week or so, and then Rachel went back to the same patterns of favoritism. Yesterday when Rachel was supposed to be supervising the children on the playground she was paying no attention, and one child got hit in the head by another child with a plastic bat. Fortunately, the child was not seriously injured, but it was just another example of Rachel’s poor performance. Other staff members were complaining, and Mary Beth knew she had to let Rachel go. She was concerned

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


about Rachel’s possible reaction, so she had enlisted Jeannie, her assistant director, to help her. Mary Beth asked Rachel if she could see her in her office while the children were napping in the afternoon. At the same time, Jeannie was gathering up Rachel’s personal items and standing by in the next room to escort Rachel from the premises. When Rachel entered Mary Beth’s office, her first comment was, “If you’re going to fuss at me about Cory getting hit on the playground, that wasn’t my fault, you know. I was busy watching Kelly at the time, and it just happened so quick. It could have happened to anybody.” “I know it can happen quickly,” said Mary Beth, “but we have a responsibility to these children and their parents for things like this not to happen. You and I have talked before about your spending too much time with Kelly and ignoring the others. In fact, this is the fifth time I’ve had to talk to you about some part of your job performance in the three months you have been here, so you know I’ve had other concerns too, and I’ve even put these things in writing for you. You’ve known you were on probationary status.” “You’re not going to fire me then, are you?” asked Rachel. “I love these children, and I don’t want to leave.” “Yes, I’m afraid I am going to have to ask you to leave. Each time I speak to you about something you need to work on, it improves for a little while, and then you slip back into the same bad habits. I’m sure there are things you do well, Rachel, but you are just not a match for what we need here. I just have to have someone who will follow instructions and someone I can absolutely depend on.” Rachel started complaining loudly. “You can’t do this to me! I need this job, and I’m not going to leave! I’ll sue you.” She started to cry. Mary Beth remained calm. She let Rachel continue to vent, and when Rachel finally took a breath, Mary Beth said very calmly, “Rachel, you will need to leave now. We have gotten your things together, and we’ll escort you to your car. We really do wish you the best, but you can’t be here any longer.” She opened the door and Jeannie met them. Jeannie handed Rachel all her things, and the two of them herded Rachel to the back door, being careful not to touch or force her. They walked her to the parking lot and to her car. Mary Beth told her good luck and that she hoped she’d find a job soon that really suited her. Rachel had tears in her eyes, but she didn’t protest any longer. Mary Beth felt a sense of relief, even though she would be stretched for coverage until she could replace Rachel. But it had to be done, and she thought it had gone as well as she could have expected. She was relieved there had been only a minor scene. Now she could get on with running the center.

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


and let them go with their— and your—dignity intact. 3) The final discussion should be as amicable as possible and not focused on blame. Quick. Stick to the facts. Sterrett 29 . What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. 2) Document all efforts you have made to help them improve.Points to remember: 1) Counsel with the employee on several occasions. 4) Wish them well.

and I don’t know how. and it means that you ask them periodically how they think they are doing.” If what you have in mind is to zap your employee. or are dishonest rather than confronting an employee. do they? Even if you are tempted. you help develop a stronger relationship and a better foundation on which to have your performance review.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: • • Keep putting it off and hope this task will go away. This is really important. do them as described below. Don’t let yourself put this off! Allow an hour. rush through them. This also assures that nothing in the performance review will come as a surprise to your employee. or even get them back on track if needed. don’t do this. or performance evaluation (all these terms mean the same thing) is such an important opportunity for a meaningful discussion with your employees. ~~~~~~~~~~ A performance review. you are missing a golden opportunity to get in touch with and re-motivate your employees. You share your own observations. resolve to do it the right way next year! In the meantime—now—you’ll have to start with where you are and do the best you can. sign it. When you do this coaching. and you give compliments every time you can. Just do a quick job (copy last year’s answers?). Fill in your copy with your ratings or observations. These are to… Quick. It’s called coaching. It’s especially helpful to write examples. If you have not given them good coaching and mentoring with frequent feedback on how they are doing during this year. remember that you should have been having informal conversations about their performance all through the year. Ask your employee to fill in the form and rate himself or herself. The purpose of your meeting—and of your rating—is not to do a “gotcha. “I’ve got to do employee performance reviews. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible to meet and discuss this.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 7. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. if possible. To get the full advantage of your appraisals. Sterrett 30 . performance appraisal. so you have time to also hear what’s on your employee’s mind. Get a blank copy of the form and send a copy to your employee. If you hate reviews. So you have no reason to dread the review. then shame on you! There are several purposes a good appraisal process will accomplish. and stick it in the file…nobody cares about these things anyway. In the first place.

Your aim in the performance appraisal interview is to have a positive and honest experience. You want to plan their development for the new year. what does a 6 mean. except for true emergencies). do. At the other end of the scale. Corrective action plan required 3-4 Below average. close the door and give them your undivided attention (ignore the phones. The actual numbers or words on the form are less important than building enough trust with your employee that you can both share your opinions freely. Since all people view scales differently it is vital that the reviewer disclose what the scale means to them. Then schedule another meeting to review whether they have made progress. This means that you write down specifically what the person will need to do differently. Be complimentary! This is a good opportunity to motivate and inspire them. When the time of your appraisal interview rolls around.1) thank people for the good work they have done and acknowledge them. There is no reason to put it off. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. 3) open a dialog and a chance for them to offer suggestions for the department or discuss areas of concern. and emails. Quick. “I agree. For instance if the scale is 1-10 what does a 4 mean. you should also develop a corrective action plan. I think that’s fair. most companies require that for “superstar” rating (whatever your highest category is) you may need to justify this rating with one or more specific examples to substantiate this rating. pages. Many performance review forms have predefined categories and a rating scale. You need to inspire them to want to continue to grow personally and in their job. and by what date. Show them you appreciate their good qualities.” When their rating is lower than your own—which is actually fairly common—be sure you explain why you rated them higher. Sterrett 31 . what does a 10 really mean? Scale Example: 1-2 Unacceptable. Needs Improvement 5-6 Average 7-8 Above average 9-10 Superstar If an employee receives a 1 or 2 (or the lowest rating on your form). Be pleasant and make them feel welcome rather than thinking they are about to be sentenced by the judge. since the rating is saying that the performance is unacceptable. Chances are very good that they have rated themselves or written a comment similar to your own. Begin looking at the form and ask your employee how they answered question one on the form. Any time you can agree with them. 2) encourage them to set goals for areas where they are challenged.

If the employee rated themselves higher than you rated them. But consider the possible after-effects of trumping their answer. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. or training are they interested in for next year? Where do they hope to be career-wise in a few years? Ask them how you can help them to grow in these areas. You might just get some very good suggestions this way.” As you come to some kind of agreement on the rating. If you believe. projects. You are not perfect! Take it as a compliment—as a sign of their trust in you—that they’re willing to be honest with you. Begin your new appraisal year on a better note by giving all your employees frequent informal feedback on their performance. If you can reasonably agree with their higher rating. I am definitely going to change that. “That’s interesting. Sterrett 32 . tell them so and explain why. “Good job this month” as you pass in the hall can do wonders for employee morale and performance. do so. though. Can you explain why you chose that answer?” It’s actually possible that they will point out some things you may have forgotten or may not have considered. and your employee will follow your lead. If not. too. You may be quite right. Approach a performance review with a good attitude. too: “I now realize that I haven’t given you as much verbal feedback during the year as I could have. Next time we do a review I’d like for us to be communicating enough that we come up with all the same answers. especially if they are adamant. remember the second purpose for a performance review—to think about future plans. Be careful about promises you make. Make sure they know that you want them to come to you when they have questions or suggestions. that your answer is still the more accurate one. Give them a chance to explain. Write it in your calendar for yourself if you need to. a great question you might want to ask is.. You can make the whole process of feedback and appraisal productive and painless and use it as an opportunity to boost your relationship. Just saying something as simple as a. what are the areas in which they wish to grow? What professional opportunities. too. and promise only things you can and will make good on. Do not get defensive when they make a suggestion. When they are Quick. Tell them this. In fact. Always end your interview on a positive note. Is it worth building up resentment just so you can be “right”? It is likely that the reason your two answers are different is that you have not communicated frequently enough with them about their performance throughout the year. They may not have understood fully what outstanding performance in a particular category really means in your judgment. i. so your answer sticks. This process can be a wonderful motivational tool when used appropriately. on balance. say. The third thing you should do during an appraisal discussion is to ask them for their suggestions on how to improve the team or department or what one thing they would fix or improve. That way you’ll know better what I expect. “If you had my job. Thank them for their work in preparing answers and for their honest discussion with you. then obviously you are the boss.e. what would you do differently?” Don’t dare ask this question unless you are prepared to hear their answer. and I want us to talk about these things more often.

and he said he wanted to take advantage of more of the training sessions offered by their vendors. too. Ed said. and he had resolved he would do a better job of it this year. He asked Ed for any ideas or suggestions.genuine and heartfelt. He had four more appraisals scheduled for next week. ******** Jeff was nervous about today. Of course. When Ed. Ed’s answers matched Jeff’s in all but one case. not just at appraisal time. After it was over Jeff realized that it hadn’t gone badly at all. and the company finally had someone come in from corporate HR to do a half-day of training for all the sales managers and the two regional managers in the state about six months ago. his average employee. Last year. I put something down. but he had no clue how to do a performance appraisal. To prepare for these meetings. They discussed Ed’s plans for improvement. He had learned about everything he had done wrong last year. Said it gives people more involvement in the process and more ownership of the ratings. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.” “I had some training a few months back on how to do these things better. and sure enough. I think it makes sense.” They went through the form together. He did them the way his manager used to do them—as quickly as possible. simple words can be powerful motivators…and they cost nothing. Today Jeff was meeting with his best salesman and one of his average performers. Jeff agreed that it was a good idea for him to go to a couple of these. he had had to do seven of the things. they had a very nice conversation. But he had gotten a good start and felt much more confident in his ability to carry through this part of his management responsibilities. “Well. I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. Quick. and while Ed didn’t have any concrete ideas. He had complained to his regional manager. He had to do two performance reviews for his salesmen. so I want to try it like this. just after he took over as route sales manager. Sterrett 33 . Jeff had gotten out his notes from the training seminar he had back in the winter. Jeff told Ed that he would be trying to give him feedback on his work performance more often throughout the year. but I don’t know how good a job I did. and in that case Jeff had rated him higher than Ed rated himself. not me. and that’s what the guy recommended. and he found an opportunity to let Ed know he appreciated his dependability. he still had his weakest employee to do next week. Not only did he not know his employees very well. came to see him. Jeff. he closed the door and asked him if he had filled out the blank form Jeff had put in his box. and he knew he had made a mess of it. That’s why I’m asking all of you to rate yourselves at the same time I’m rating you.

2) Discuss the employee’s answers and agree when you can. Sterrett 34 .Points to remember: 1) Have employee complete a copy of the appraisal form. 3) Devise a plan for continued development next year. 4) Ask for the employee’s suggestions for strengthening the department. Quick. and supervisor completes a copy also before the appraisal interview. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. 5) Resolve to do frequent informal feedback discussions with them throughout the year. so you and the employee are both clear how they are doing.

” They do get upset. you may very well end up making a huge mistake and costing your company money.” ____________________________________________________________________ You may be tempted to: o Grit your teeth and just push on through the problem. but I’m afraid to admit it.” and you make up some answer for them when you really had no idea. “I may need some help with one part of my job. Even your employees are not usually put off when you say “Gee. ~~~~~~~~~~ It may surprise you to know that nobody expects you to know everything when you become a manager or supervisor. if you say “Sure. and it’s normal to have a couple of areas of your job where you feel challenged. Even the best manager does not have all the answers. Sterrett 35 . So what should you do when you run into a question you can’t answer or an issue that you cannot solve? First. If the mistake is too serious it could even result in some disciplinary action or loss of your job. Here’s why. It’s really important that you ask for help when you need it. you should buy yourself some time by saying something like “Let me check on that and get back to you by Wednesday (or whenever).____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 8. If you don’t. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. I’m not really sure about that. Don’t take that kind of a chance! Even if this is not the best organization in the world or your favorite job. What do you think?” or “I don’t know.” This will give you time to check some of your resources. Then you become more attractive to another employer. People don’t get upset with someone who is honest and is definitely trying to learn. They do get upset with know-it-alls! They also get upset when you promise something you can’t or don’t deliver. I’ve got it. Remember. I’ll take care of it. Here are some ideas of where to go for help. 1) Go to your boss. but I can try to find out for you. That’s part of what he/she is there for. you get yourself in trouble when you pretend you know the answer and you really don’t know it. The obvious first place to ask for help is in your own organization. however. You say you don’t want to seem stupid to the boss? You won’t seem incompetent if you go in with as much information as possible and even have a best-guess answer to Quick. hang in there with the supervision or management for awhile and learn as much as you possibly can about how to do it. But maybe you’d better not. It’s okay not to have all the answers.

There are many. If your question involves some other specialty—your computer system. who do you know outside the organization that may offer advice or direction with your current dilemma? Look around your circle of professional acquaintances. ******** Reba was the billing manager at the local electric co-operative.your challenging question. Many of these people. If you have an HR representative.” Just remember you don’t look foolish when you ask an honest question and are obviously trying to learn. or other local business people. You only look foolish when you plow ahead and do something unwise because you would not pause and ask for help. make an appointment and speak frankly with this person. an accounting or record-keeping issue. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. seek out the right expertise. There is no shame in being honest and asking for help when you need it.” 2) Go to a peer in another department.” I wasn’t sure if that was right or not. She had 12 people working for her. so I wanted to get your opinion first. Jot down some keywords or phrases related to your question or issue and begin trying them in various search engines. Is there another manager besides your own who you admire and could speak with about your issue? If so. 4) Ask a mentor. even if you don’t know them well. many sites out there that would offer information or advice on any supervisory or management question you could possibly have. Use your network— ask the people you know who they know that might be able to answer your question or give advice. Ask for this person’s opinion on how to resolve your challenge. your professional or trade organization. Sterrett 36 . When you are caught up in an issue. Often when we need a fresh perspective on a question. or something else—ask the appropriate department in your organization. we can ask someone in our personal support system—a family member or a friend. this person may have an answer and give good advice. including billing clerks and customer reps who handled telephone and walk-in contacts. Tell them you value their opinion and thank them for their advice when they try to help. depending on the question. It’s true. Lay out the situation or question for the boss. Reba tried to run a smooth office. sticking strictly to policy and Quick. will be very helpful in providing guidance and can be quite generous with their time. Another suggestion for getting information when you have a question or concern is to check the internet. but an outsider can often offer a very helpful perspective on a problem simply because they are not involved. In addition. you sometimes “can’t see the forest for the trees. and then say “One of the things I thought about doing was __________. 3) Ask your human resources department or other department. Ask a supervisor who has more experience than you do. Educate yourself. they probably don’t know the company or the people involved unless they have worked there.

Reba was very proud of what she had accomplished in her 18 years as manager. Dennis was aware of Reba’s problems. I know you are independent and proud. and the various functions were not integrated. Reba. The transition had not gone smoothly. but they were all really stressed out about it. He had also said he would arrange for her to borrow someone from the repair department or even hire a temporary worker for her during this transition. and often several of her workers. billings and payments. They said that you were being a martyr. and once she had two people out with extended surgery leaves at the same time. the administrative director. The previous system had been cumbersome. but I also don’t want to have wholesale walkout over here. making coordination of services and sharing of information between departments and between programs more difficult.” said Dennis.” This usually meant that she.” “That’s not what your staff tells me. she was proud of her department and her people. They were still having to use the old system as a backup for the new system which was not yet reliable enough. She was far too proud and too much “in control” to admit that there was anything they could not handle. After all. “Ten of them have either come to see me or called me in the last two days to urge me to send some help over here until the new system is up and running fully. but Reba kept assuring them that this was just temporary and they would soon be back to normal. she and her staff “could handle anything. her department had weathered difficult times before. Sterrett 37 . “I told you we are doing fine. I think we need Quick. She liked knowing what was going on in the office.” said Reba. and he had offered to send one of the people who worked for him to help Reba out in the office during the transition. So Reba was confident that between them. Reba would not hear of it. Martha from his office would be with her all but two hours a day until the bugs were worked out of her system. This had been going on almost daily for nearly two months. She remembered the first conversion from manual records to computers. Although the people from the information systems department had been working as hard as they could. Reba was a workaholic and liked to be closely involved in everything her staff did. The customer service office had been the last of the departments in the electric co-op to be changed over to the new system. and I appreciate that about you. repairs. worked long hours. This often meant hand-comparisons between billing lists. The electric co-op had recently developed and installed a new computer tracking system that integrated all the functions of installations. This had resulted in double work and considerable stress for everyone. “I don’t need them. You’re got to be willing to accept help when you need it. Peggy from the repair department would also be reporting to her after lunch for the afternoon. One day Dennis came to her office in the afternoon and told her that beginning tomorrow. She reported to Dennis. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.procedures. and ended each day with a five to ten minute staff meeting to get progress reports from everyone and to be alerted of any problems that may come her way. Three or four of her employees had complained that they needed more help. the system still had some bugs in the applications most used by the customer service department.

to take care of our employees. So I guess. when the system was finally straightened out. Reba told Dennis she was glad he had insisted. even at my age. I learned something. So she accepted the help that was offered.” Points to remember: 1) No one expects you to have all the answers.” Reba was not happy about having two “outsiders” in her department. However. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett 38 . “The atmosphere around here changed from hopeless to hopeful just having those two additional bodies here. This was a good lesson for me to remember to ask for help when I really do need it or when I don’t have an answer. IS tells me that the situation will surely be straightened out in a couple more weeks. Quick. so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are stuck! 2) First consider possible resources or mentors within your own company. 3) Seek out information from the internet that might shed light on your problem. Three weeks later. and we can do this for them. she realized that her employees and her boss were really serious about this. 4) Get a fresh and objective perspective from an outsider. and they really were a big help.

smile to yourself. First of all and most fundamental is to tell yourself over and over that you can do it. and how kinds of questions. where. When you begin to prepare. put them in some kind of logical order—develop a basic outline. Sit down sometime when you are relaxed and begin brainstorming the topics that you’d like to include if you were speaking to someone who has little or no knowledge of this subject. so let’s talk first about presenting information. and say confidently. Include any suggestions given by your boss or someone else in the know that should be covered. You can do it.” Every time you feel doubt. ~~~~~~~~~~ You are in good company if you dislike public speaking or making presentations. Few things build selfesteem faster than succeeding at a tough challenge. “I know I will make a great presentation.” Adopting a positive attitude is one key. “I know I will make a great presentation. If you learn to master this common fear and do a reasonable job. what. Worry yourself into some kind of illness. so keep your information basic and not too detailed.’” ____________________________________________________________________ You may be tempted to: o o o Panic. Sterrett 39 . when. take that deep breath. the other key to success is preparation. keep the purpose of your presentation in mind from the beginning. deep breath and say. Think ahead of time about what questions your audience may have about your topic. Remember. Quick. Turn the presentation over to somebody else. you are the expert or you wouldn’t have been selected to present. “I’ve got to make a presentation to the ‘big wigs. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. You’ll need to answer most of the obvious who. This section will help you succeed. Once you get all your possible subtopics down. Many of your top bosses won’t have the content-area expertise or technical knowledge that you have. you will still need to inform them. You will also boost your own confidence beyond measure. But don’t. you’ll impress your bosses that you are professional and competent—and may be worthy of promotion. if you approach it in the following way. Take a nice.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 9. Is your purpose to inform? To give a status report on a project? To present some new data for consideration by the group? Is your purpose to convince them to adopt a certain policy or allocate resources for a project or product? Is your purpose to influence them to adopt your proposed solution to a problem? Even if your purpose is to influence or convince.

If you show them you truly believe what you’re saying is right. diagrams. you will want to build your information into a series of arguments or reasons why they should “do this. or present photographs? Remember that visual displays are often very helpful for your audience. you can write yourself a script of your presentation. If you will use these kinds of things. Speak it to yourself as many times as you need to in order to feel confident that you know your material. As you have time. or specific instance you can relate. Even your top leaders appreciate hearing an example— how does your material apply to the day-to-day activities? A specific example makes any data you present more concrete and more real. but use this only for your practice. but keep what’s written simple and clear. make yourself a list of this and other things you have to do to fully complete your outline. go back and figure out what you can cut. and you’ll be much more likely to convince them than if you are completely matter-of-fact in your tone. Make good notes or write out what you will say. If you are using presentation software to create slides or if you are using transparencies. Always allow at least 20% of the time for questions and comments. example. try to fill in more details in the rough outline you are creating. flip charts.If your purpose is to not only inform but to persuade them. keeping it simpler is much better than making it too complex or detailed. If you can cover the material. Then practice delivering your presentation out loud with no audience. or written handouts. Time yourself.” “approve this. When you practice. keep them uncluttered. illustration. this is usually appreciated. This means you shouldn’t spend all your allotted time on your presentation. Set a personal deadline for completing each of these pieces of information. You can add more detail with your spoken remarks when you present. No matter who your audience and what your purpose. What information will you have to look up or seek out? Will you need to set up tables. It’s rare that you will need to have more than 15 or 20 minutes worth of material. charts. not for the actual event. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your presentation will have to overwhelm them in order to impress them. what can you add? You are usually better off having less material and more time for questions and discussion than having too much to cover. Quick. Liven up your presentation and make it memorable by preparing at least one story. Remember that presentations consisting only of facts and charts may be informative but they can also be quite boring. Sterrett 40 .” or “change this. If you don’t have nearly enough. If it helps. Don’t try to crowd too many details into these visuals. then ask. In fact. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and still finish a little early.” Put some heart into your talk by using a convincing. if you have too much material for your time frame. answer questions. How long should your presentation be? If the person who asked you to present did not supply that information. this helps the facts and figures to mean something. passionate tone of voice. Believe in what you say and others will believe in it too.

It’s the same emotion. That’s normal. Don’t worry that you won’t be able to answer their questions.” start labeling the jitters you feel as excitement. have a coworker or your manager look over your outline and even practice delivering your talk to them. thank them for the chance to present to them and for their interest and attention. you have every reason to feel confident that you will do well. Each time you do.Practice your delivery again and again. In the case of a question no one knows the answer to. Throw away your script and speak only from an outline. (Rarely would a beginning presenter be expected to appear in front of a hostile audience. If possible. Four months ago she was assigned to a special project—research and evaluation of software systems that could more fully integrate the company’s needs for data sharing. You should practice it until you can do that easily. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. see it going positively. Take a deep breath and a short pause to recompose yourself. “Gosh. Then follow up and do it! When it’s over. you are advised to stand when you present. In most cases.” Remember that your audience wants you to succeed. Allow plenty of time for the set up. Tell yourself. Sterrett 41 . Show a little interest and excitement about your topic or you’ll bore them to death. Before your big day. give yourself a pat on the back. you’ll feel more confident. This helps you to relax.” When your time arrives walk confidently into the room and get set up. You did just fine! And it will get easier each time you do it.” Offer your audience the chance to ask you questions. Pay attention to your voice tone. and other people seldom remember small mistakes or know “what you should have said. it will get easier! When you finish. Chances are very good that you will or that some other member of your audience will know the answer. When your day arrives. instead of thinking.) Go through your material just as you rehearsed. and discuss your topic. After you get through the first minute or two. Her manager had tried to write a Quick. ~~~~~~~~~~ Penny is an IT technician at a regional insurance company. I’m so nervous. tell them you will try to find out and get them the answer. check your notes and correct yourself. This generally appears more authoritative and professional. even if you think you messed up a couple of times. visualize yourself standing before the group. even with a small group. going through your material confidently and successfully. In your mind’s eye. offer comments. That’s a promise. and see it in as much detail as possible. Shine and enjoy your chance to show off what you know to “the big managers. If you get mixed up. By doing careful preparation—research and writing—and by practicing a number of times. New policy-holders entered by the sales department had to be re-entered with the software used by the claims department when a claim was reported. Take a deep breath and smile when you begin. “I’m really excited about today. It’s possible you will generate some very lively discussion.

Her first words came out really quiet. The company wanted a fully integrated system. Things started flowing smoother. Sterrett 42 . The fact that the company trusted her with this project was a sign of their faith in her abilities. 3) Build a rough outline of your information and gradually fill in details. especially designed for the insurance industry. Penny concentrated on the information she knew so well by this time. even though it was more expensive. Points to remember: 1) Adopt a positive and determined attitude – you can make a successful presentation. She was proud that she was able to answer their questions at the end. When the new system was finally installed a few months later and everyone was trained. practice and approach your big day confidently. She got a lot of compliments on the thoroughness of her work. and today was her day to present to the CEO and his seven direct reports. Penny had made it clear that she preferred her first option and why. Penny was nervous. and she got an outstanding performance review that year.program to take care of this. and she gradually relaxed. She made up a simple ten-slide presentation using presentation software to guide her talk and visually present her main points. it reduced everyone’s frustration and improved customer service. Some features of it worked. When she first got in the room and stood up to present. Penny had narrowed her search down to two possible solutions. and her words sounded more natural. and the CEO even sent her an email to thank her. 4) Practice. Penny had laid out her information carefully and practiced her presentation quite a few times. Her manager would also be there. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. but it had just not been reliable and comprehensive enough for them to depend on. It also looked good for Penny’s career. 2) Determine what your purpose is and what your audience expects. She was a little nervous but made herself think positively about how excited she was to have this opportunity. so they had gone back to the old cumbersome system. and she realized she would have to speak up. She took a deeper breath. practice. Quick. She had made several short informal presentations before in her career but not to the top brass. including examples. It turns out that the executive team took her recommendation for the higher-priced solution. Penny came through with flying colors because she had prepared well and felt confident.

you are not developing the capacity of your people if you do not continue to offer them new challenges. perhaps because it makes you feel more “important” to be so essential and overworked. Take a good long look at yourself. This may mean you are constantly feeling overloaded. A third reason is that you will balance out the workload. and it makes you feel overworked and pressured. Beginning supervisors sometimes assume that they have to continue to do much of the work they had been doing before they entered a management position. Here’s why delegating is important and how to do it well. ~~~~~~~~~~ Your own stress level and productivity are too low when you are overloaded. plus all the necessary administration. “I know I need to delegate better. There are at least three important reasons why you would want to delegate. you carve out two jobs for yourself. too. It makes you look unskilled as a manager. First. Second. In addition. coordination. is that it’s not your job as a supervisor/manager to “do” Quick. it benefits your employee. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. You may be tempted. Sterrett 43 . This also means the organization may not be getting the full benefit from all its workers. many of your employees like new challenges and will appreciate gradual and manageable chances to grow. and monitoring. reduce your stress and allow yourself time to work on larger projects (such as investigating potential improvements and moving your department ahead) when you spend less time on the daily routine. The fundamental truth of supervision that many companies either don’t understand themselves or fail to tell you. but how?” ____________________________________________________________________ You may be tempted to: o o Not bother delegating because it’s just easier to go ahead and get the work done yourself. with good delegation you will improve your standing with your employees and are more likely to be noticed favorably by higher management. or because you. and it benefits your employer. wrongly. This means that not only now but in the future they will be unable to perform. but don’t.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 10. Quickly hand a project or task over to somebody else even if they’re not sure they can handle it. When you do this. assume that’s what is expected of a manager. Failure to delegate and to do so appropriately does not make you look important. Delegating appropriately is a crucial skill for all good leaders to master. because you’re feeling overloaded. the leader. Even seasoned supervisors often get in the habit of continuing to do much of the work they did as a frontline worker. It benefits you.

or any advantage you can think of. Further. Far from it! It’s your responsibility to motivate them to do the work willingly. Tell them you are working on learning to delegate better. task or area. Set a time when you will be training them in the new responsibility. Your next step is to have the delegating conversation with your employee. A week is a good starting place. Be prepared for a give and take discussion. You can tell them you have been observing them and have really appreciated such-andsuch about their work. If you and your employee agree they will take on a specific task that you had been doing. or consider giving one of their tasks to someone else. that you think they are ready to take the next step and learn something new.the work on a daily basis (the work that your employees are doing). You may want to assure them that other team members will be learning some new tasks too. or someone has told you to do so. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. it does not mean that you have to issue orders and have people scrambling. Then ask yourself who on your team has some interest or background in this task. The best way to approach the issue of their new task is to do it in a very positive way in the context of a feedback conversation. so be careful to explain what benefit they will get out of it: what they will learn. Schedule a time to sit down privately with him or her. starting your list with the lowest difficulty item. Who is capable right now of doing it. begin your process by making a careful list of the tasks you generally do in a given period. You should be honest about what you are doing. be careful about your level of involvement in the task from this point forward. for cross-training purposes. as you take a look at your direct reports? You have now identified the item and identified the person who could do it. This does not mean that you are the harsh overseer standing around and cracking the whip. they can develop expertise in that area and additional pride in their accomplishments. If you are now convinced that you need to delegate. how it will affect their status in the team. and your goal is to be teaching others and helping them develop skills. “I’m already overloaded. or who would be able to do it with a little coaching from you? Who is the logical person to do this task. and your goal is to create additional expertise in the department. how they will be rewarded (don’t promise monetary rewards if you can’t deliver!). You want to develop better coverage in the department by having others who can complete the essential tasks in case you aren’t available. how they will be recognized. No employee wants to feel like they are being dumped on or given all the work the boss doesn’t want. Be specific about something good they have done. Sterrett 44 . so what can I give up?” Help them prioritize the tasks they are responsible for. especially the concern your employee might have of. put the tasks in order according to their level of difficulty or complexity. It’s your responsibility to make sure it gets done. Once you have a list. When they are more fully in charge of a project. how this will enhance their visibility. with you occasionally pitching in during tough times. in fact. You are so pleased. and let them tell Quick.

Your delegating will fall flat on its face if you micromanage. When you instruct them. and let them know how proud you are and how much faith you have in them (and mean it!) and how you couldn’t give this work to just anybody. Be sure that you compliment their developing skills as they complete their new tasks. Sharon tried to reassure him. If you are glum. then they are more likely to see it as a reward—as a symbol of your faith in them. Whether an employee looks at your delegating work to them as a punishment or as a reward will be dependent largely on your own attitude about it. Sterrett 45 . we know it’s because you are so conscientious that you have been unable to delegate. Your employee is more likely to complete the task successfully and maintain a positive attitude. If you tell people exactly how everything has to be done and if you insist they come back to you every time they turn around for approval or a progress report. this will create problems when you aren’t available as a resource while they are learning. Sharon. Jack worked as business office manager at a community college. That means. As long as it gets the results you are looking for. But you’re just carrying it a little too far. then ask for and schedule this. and then let them do it themselves. if you remove yourself completely in an effort to stay out of their way or to wipe your hands of another task you didn’t want. during his performance appraisal interview. Then. But if you approach this hand-off with excitement.” Train them. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and thank them for their willingness to grow. This is why you should always let your employee say how much involvement or assistance they need. On the other hand. do not stand over your employee every minute to see that they are doing the new task “right.you how much monitoring and assistance they think they need from you. Gradually practice delegating with additional tasks and additional employees. Jack. Delegating efforts will also fall flat if you completely disappear and never follow up to see how they are doing. Don’t do it! This creates resentment because it means you have not given up control of the task. matter-of-fact. and Sharon was Dean of Administrative Services. or fail to acknowledge how great they are already. “Look. Just be clear about the end product.” Jack told his boss. If the task is complex. So don’t tell them how it “must” be done. These extremes of micromanaging and unloading work and then disappearing are both unacceptable. Be sure to remain available for questions they may have. You Quick. that is perfectly acceptable. then they will probably view it as punishment. get out of their way. delegating will be more successful. Being particular is a good thing to a point—details are important here. When approached like this. and praise them when they achieve it. this is micromanaging. Your employee is very likely to do the job slightly differently than you did it. and a periodic progress check might be helpful to both of you. ******** “I’m really upset about this. be sure that they clearly understand the expected outcomes and know what the result is supposed to look like.

and I think we need to be training them. so it wasn’t really new. I think we could afford the tuition and the lodging and expenses for one night. The other is a one-day seminar that will be held at three locations around Washington during the fall.get yourself stressed out. Jack went to the workshop with some dread for what was coming. He just didn’t know where to begin. Jean and Brian are both capable of taking on more responsibility. He just didn’t know whether he could learn a new way or not. Then he remembered Sharon’s warning and how he needed to change. despite Jack’s good intentions. He did need to work on this.” Jack still felt dazed later that day as he reflected more on Sharon’s comments. He quickly made his hotel reservations.” “But I really don’t know how to delegate. and I think things could flow better. Later never came and. Over the next couple of months. the time passed quickly. He got on the internet and downloaded a couple of articles on delegation. but it was six weeks down the road. The exercises and the small group discussions had helped him to make a short list of the tasks he normally did that could possibly be done by someone else in his office. He was motivated by wanting to avoid another mediocre performance appraisal.” said Jack weakly. that Sharon had talked to him about this before. When the time came. Sharon commented to him that she was very proud of the way he was learning to share some of the workload and to use his staff to their full capability. and began making plans to be away. “That’s why I did an internet search to find some training opportunities for you that we can afford. The two presenters were very knowledgeable and not too pushy. You’ve got at least two really competent people in your office. you always have a backload of work. too. Maybe he was overworked.” protested Jack. and she was probably right. but at least he was comfortable in his pattern. maybe he was behind. One is a four week teleclass that sounds pretty good. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Jack went ahead and signed up for the delegation workshop Sharon had told him about. He finally realized that the workshop on delegation was scheduled for less than two weeks. Jack learned a few things. “I know. He had to admit. and you need to use your annual leave—everyone deserves that. One day when he was in Sharon’s office on another matter. vowing to take them home and read them later. Sterrett 46 . as I’ve told you before. I’d just like you to learn to delegate more. He went back to the office with a commitment that he could do it. He was upset about his mediocre appraisal results. Quick. They seemed to understand the reluctance many of the attendees felt about delegating. What happens when you need to be out of the office?” “That’s why I rarely take time off. though. He learned that he needed to start out small. Jack gradually began to give his capable staff members more responsibility for certain aspects of the work he had traditionally done. Jack liked the workshop more than he expected.

“it really hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I didn’t think I could change. Quick. 2) Begin with one task and decide who the logical person is to have do this.” replied Jack. I thought it would be hard for me to give it up because I would feel like I wasn’t in control any more. My people have all been pretty good about accepting the changes in responsibility. and some have actually expressed relief that we are becoming more efficient. But I’ve actually enjoyed the new arrangements. And I am grateful for that. Sterrett 47 . but you forced me. I know I still have a way to go but my backlog of work is smaller now. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. give good instructions. and I’ve really learned to trust my people more now. 4) Compliment and reinforce their efforts without micromanaging.“You know. 3) Have the delegating conversation with your employee—tell them you are entrusting this work to them because they are capable.” Points to remember: 1) Make a list of possible tasks you do that could possibly be turned over to someone.

____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 11. but you are willing to listen and be reasonable. always ask them what’s wrong and then listen carefully to their explanation. Practice saying to yourself until you have it right. “I noticed you’ve been ten minutes late two days this week. Can you work out a flexible schedule? Some companies and work situations can accommodate this and others can’t. Giving them a lecture will often make the offender mad. and other employees who arrive on time resent the offender and resent you. If flexible scheduling is simply not an option where you work. Use your “business” tone of voice.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o o Ignore it. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Tell them. But don’t. you may want to pose this to management. Pretending like it’s no problem will only make it worse. Here’s what you should do. Even if this has never been tried in your organization. the traffic was bad) then you need to talk to them about alternatives. it is possible to correct the negative behavior and still avoid building resentment. but don’t talk like a “wimp” either. You can even say. An example might be they cannot take their child to school before a certain hour and this makes them late. Sterrett 48 . Lay down the law in no uncertain terms. Short of having to fire them. “I understand. “One of my people is late all the time. What’s going on?” Before you bring out the rulebook. then you do not need to make it a big deal. the offender may retaliate with marginal performance or a poor attitude. their child was sick for two days). Fire them. for doing nothing. If they have a legitimate and temporary problem (for example. Even though you are within your right to enforce the rules. When you first begin to notice the tardiness. Help them to think of ideas about what to do. not a tone that is mean or angry. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ You need to deal with the problem in the early stages. and I hope it will improve because if I let you do it.” You should be especially concerned when the problem is not temporary (for example. By approaching the situation this way. Something as simple as “come in 15 minutes later and you can take 15 minutes off your lunch break or work 15 minutes later in the evening” could be all that’s needed. then it’s really unfair to the others. you are letting them know that you are on to them. sit the person down and have a private conversation. too. Don’t let it drag on and on. especially if it would give you some extra coverage and the person is a good employee. then get the employee to create a specific plan with you about how they are going to get to work on time: Quick.

Mike was an amiable guy. Get them to clearly say it to you and verbally commit to do it. He had 12 full-time and four part-time employees. He asked why she was late. It’s almost as if some of them know exactly how far to push this. Shake hands with them and tell them you know they can do it. If necessary. and tried to treat his employees like friends. the logical conclusion to this problem is termination. knowing she was under a lot of pressure. So once they got over the lunch rush. Next time she was scheduled June was 20 minutes late. knowing she had a lot of responsibilities. It evidently worked because June wasn’t late again—at least not for the next few weeks. but still bad for department morale. and make other child care arrangements. it’s affecting all of us when June isn’t here on time. June worked for Mike as a cashier. “Mike. If the offender won’t correct the problem. ******** Mike owned a delicatessen. Still. but he had wanted to be patient. but he realized it had to be done. and Mike realized he would have to talk to her. to make ends meet. The pattern could be an indication of an attitude problem. Tell them you’re disappointed in them and that others are complaining. Sterrett 49 . They should understand that the next step may be a written warning (a write-up). so use termination as a last resort. and what time they arrived. rationalizing that they were really busy. Again. Mike took June into his tiny office and began. not often enough or maybe not late enough to result in a written warning. begin by asking them what’s going on. he put it off next time she was there.set their alarm 15 minutes earlier. Quick. and she said she overslept because she had worked at her other job until late last night. drive to work another way— whatever the solution may be. cut down morning prep time. See Challenge 6. and they do not want that on their record. and June had only been five minutes late. then follow the guidelines. He tried to cover for her. loved his work and his customers. When June first started coming in late. Mike didn’t do anything. he would have to let her go. stopping just short of the limit. Turnover always costs the company money. Another employee finally said. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. June was a single mother who also worked another job too. Now he would have to wait and see whether her improved timeliness would continue. Otherwise. June started to cry and told him that she just couldn’t lose this job because it was her rent money.” Mike agreed he would have to talk to her. It’s a good idea to bring them in and talk to them about the pattern you have observed. Mike told her he realized he had let things go on too long—he should have talked to her earlier. He also told her that other employees were starting to complain. begin documenting every day that they are late. and that will take all the patience you can muster. Mike felt really bad for June after it was over. and that if she continued to be late. consult with your manager or human resources department. If your company has a policy about how often a person can be late within a certain time period and receive a written warning. One common situation is where the person is intermittently late. this is getting out of hand. She promised to do better.

Quick. and institute progressive discipline if the problem continues. 2) Always listen to their explanation and help them problem solve if possible. talk to the employee informally just as soon as you notice the tardiness. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.Points to remember: 1) Intervene early. Sterrett 50 . 3) Be firm about enforcing the rules.

After speaking to both of them and gathering facts. so let them know their behavior must change. possibly making them walk on eggshells or take sides. You may be tempted…but you shouldn’t do either of these things. resolving to treat each other more respectfully in the future. Most people will acknowledge that it’s not pleasant to come to work when they are fighting with someone all the time. You need to think “win-win” for both sides. If one or both are quite willing you might want to suggest they get together by themselves and come to some peaceful agreement—no blame. so let go of the blame game. Rarely is a conflict the fault of just one party. It really won’t matter who started it or who is more deserving of blame when you move to resolution. Sometimes it may even help to put them in a room alone and tell them to stay there until they work it out. You can also explain that. then it’s time for the supervisor to intervene. Whenever you tell them what to do or choose one side over the other. however. without expressing anger yourself. however. you are going to work on making things better for the sake of the whole department as well as for each of them. The organization has a right to expect proper work attitudes. Say this calmly. The first thing to do is meet with each one separately. It’s important to remember. just shake hands and let it go. ~~~~~~~~~~ You can and you should ignore a little tiff that occurs among your staff. so there’s usually blame enough for both. together. You can show concern and support by thanking each one for being honest. Quick. including you. If that little conflict continues and begins to involve others in the group.” Here’s what you can do to see to it that everyone wins. Ignore it and let them work it out—eventually. “I’ve got two people fighting. Sterrett 51 . Begin by stating that the conflict between them and the other person has gotten out of hand and is beginning to affect the whole department.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Just settle it yourself by taking one side or the other. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. that solving the conflict means completely skipping over and ignoring whose “fault” it is. Do not side with either person. Ask them to tell you the facts of what happened. Many conflicts won’t be settled so peacefully.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 12. Most little disagreements soon blow over. you automatically move to “win-lose. You should simply be a listener for each person. you will get a sense of how ready they are to stop feuding and get on with things. Take a few notes if you need to. If this is the case. It’s no longer just their issue when it’s affecting morale and performance. then as the supervisor you need to remain firm that the conflict be resolved.

they may want to bring in an outside mediator. or some other random way. and they are both adults. telling only the facts and how they felt about the situation. each one of them will get a chance to tell their story. they still feel hurt and anger but they will listen to reason when you talk to them). Welcome both of them and thank them for being willing to get together to make things better. While Person X is talking Person Y must simply listen. then by all means. It’s common for these things to take at least two hours. That’s not as hard as it may sound. They will speak with respect. If you have a Human Resources Department. Many managers. Sterrett 52 . In the meantime. If one of them gets upset and Quick. the mediation procedure is explained below. and let the first person tell their story fully. There will be no name-calling and no emotional outbursts. something like a written warning which states that the next incident of conflict may result in termination. This is not the best way to handle it. Explain what’s going to happen in your discussion. In only rare cases should it ever need to get to the point of forced termination. Eventually one of them will probably quit or transfer. Ask your manager for advice. one at a time. They can take a few notes if they want but are not allowed to write the whole time. things may improve on the surface. but without casting blame. You must interrupt them if they start to become accusatory of the other person. Make sure the two people are seated in a position where they can look at each other. See Challenge 6 on discipline and termination. While Person Y is talking Person X must listen carefully. Make sure each is agreeable to the rules. picking a number. have few conflict resolution skills themselves. If you do it this way. The cost of turnover is high. this is probably a case where you should meet with them together and be their third party mediator. however. progressive discipline may be needed. The discussion must be conducted by the rules. both for themselves and for the sake of everybody on the team. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. If all else fails.If they are “moderately ready” to talk (i. you are stuck with a poor attitude and marginal performance. without interruption. This is a work setting. They may offer to. and many employees are worth saving. or tell you to. They may have someone on staff who can advise you or can be a third party mediator. but it will be two hours well-invested when you resolve the issue—and you are very likely to resolve it with a mediation. Decide who speaks first by drawing straws. go to each person and issue a direct order for them to stop fighting and work together. Allow plenty of time to work through the steps. If one or both are extremely angry and completely unwilling to “let it go. but resentment is still simmering.” this is a situation where you should ask for some help. If the situation is thorny enough and the employees are valued enough.e. go to them for advice.. How to Mediate a Conflict Schedule a time when you and the two employees in conflict can get together in the same room. First.

What you are going to do now is figure out how to resolve the conflict and work together better in the future. Get out a flip chart or go to the whiteboard and help them brainstorm answers to the question “So what do we do now?” All three of you should think of ideas for how to creatively solve the problem or compromise. It may still take time to build better habits of thought and behavior. does not build resentment but clears the air for a better working relationship.” Decide together what action you will take and get them to verbally agree on this and shake hands on it. The value of each person telling their story is that by the time these two rounds are finished. Thank them again for their honesty and their good listening. this increased level of understanding forms the basis of a possible resolution. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. You may want to consider letting them write down the agreement and sign their name and date it. You may need to end your first session by saying to each person: “The expectation is that you will put your differences aside and work together better. This time it’s your turn. whereas before they were each on their own “side. But the parties in conflict will often experience a renewed sense of respect for you and for each other and build a satisfactory working relationship. then make sure you enforce the rules fully by calmly and firmly jumping in and saying. even if it’s as simple as “I know you both want to get past this thing so you can get on with your jobs and reduce your stress at work. it may be time to be more insistent. and encourage them to talk to each other. Summarize in a short sentence or two what each of them said. Then the second speaker also gets a chance to add anything. Keep it short in this second round. correct any mistake that remains. they have each had a chance to really listen to each other’s experiences and gain a better understanding of why the other person behaved as he or she did. you now have the two of them working together to solve the problem—people are together on one side. Make as big a list as possible before you start narrowing the ideas down. do so by praising them for their hard work. This kind of resolution. You will have your turn in a few minutes. Many times you can work things out with these steps. Sterrett 53 . and not to you. but not in all cases. in contrast to issuing an order.” Tell them it really doesn’t matter who is to blame. When you close the session. “Remember. Let them know that you expect them to live up to the new standards and that it means a lot to everyone that they get along better.interrupts the other. supervisor. Let them do as much of the talking as possible. Even if they still do not agree. and work together respectfully in the future. we will not interrupt each other. Look for any points of agreement that you see. and the problem is on the other side. allow the first speaker to make a few more remarks if he/she wishes. As you discuss ideas. You are now ready for the next step.” When both have finished their first round. mainly. If things don’t move forward after your mediation. This conflict is disrupting Quick.

Bob was an older. if things continue to go badly. and they were both convinced that they were completely right and the other one was wrong. for marketing dollars. he read it carefully and made notes for himself. His style was very relaxed. utilize your progressive discipline process (Challenge 6). and he considered Jill pushy and offensive. He had been with this company for nine years. and they really rubbed each other the wrong way. but Alex didn’t know what in the world to do. and were now asking other people to take sides. he admitted he Quick. and he had seldom encountered a stickier problem than his current one. during which time I want you to think about what you are willing to do to move forward. Alex had worked hard to train the new sales people and to make them feel welcome. One of the new sales reps and one of his original reps were having significant conflict. We will get together again in one week. Now he had three new employees to integrate with his other seven sales reps. who had been with Alex for two years. more-seasoned sales person who had worked for the company acquired by Alex’s company. He was ready to set up a meeting for the three of them. Bob and Jill were competing for his attention. Your performance will partly be judged on your willingness to improve things between you. or as a last resort. Alex did and talked to a very helpful woman who spent about an hour on the phone coaching him on what to do. They seemed to have completely different sales and personality styles. ******** Alex was the sales manager for a company that sold educational software to public and private schools. Lately things seemed to fall apart. She sent him a publication listing the steps for a manager to use for an office mediation between two employees. is to consider getting a professional mediator involved. They now covered a portion of the same geographic region.” and this rift was threatening to undo the fragile unity he had begun to develop in the sales department. Jill thought Bob was incompetent and thought he should be replaced. Alex had spoken with each of them individually. He had already completed the first step—meeting with each party individually. Sterrett 54 . This had to stop because it was causing division and turmoil for others in the office. six as sales manager. Bob thought Jill had singled him out for mistreatment and was being completely unreasonable. The new reps were squarely on Bob’s “side.the department. The manager advised him to contact the local mediation service for advice on how to handle this conflict. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.” Another alternative. Bob arrived on time. He talked to both Jill and Bob and asked them to come to his office on Tuesday at 3:00 so they could all three discuss the situation. Alex talked to his manager about the situation. although they had different accounts. His company recently acquired another company whose software market was colleges and universities. Things seemed to be going pretty well for the first few months after the transition. When Alex received the publication two days later. was quite a go-getter in her sales style. Jill.

as the woman at the mediation center had instructed him. then. For a moment neither of them spoke and Alex started to worry that it was all going to fall apart. Maybe there were even things they could learn from each other. Each would take a turn explaining the situation from their viewpoint while the other listened completely. He finally got Bob to come out with all his frustrations of the last six months. He wanted them both to understand that he and others in the department could appreciate and support both of them. Finally. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. At first Bob was reluctant. the uncertainties of the buy-out. Alex asked Jill to summarize briefly what he had said. in position to write down their ideas. They would. Sterrett 55 . telling them the good things about their work that he had noticed. From there they listed several ideas. She told her side of the story. They each agreed to several things they would do to try to improve relationships. and of speaking politely without name-calling. Alex set the tone for a positive and calm meeting. She greeted Alex. She did. and her voice gradually got calmer. He decided to add something here that the woman at the mediation center had not included but that he thought was a nice idea. She actually said what she needed to say without completely blaming and demeaning Bob. Then Bob spoke up and said that maybe they should have better communication to share information on accounts and referrals. when Bob finished. Jill started to interrupt twice. Alex felt very pleased that he had been able to be the catalyst for settling this conflict. and the tension in the office lessened noticeably. After listing them all. Then it was Jill’s turn. Both of them seemed pleased with his comments.was nervous about talking to Jill. be asked to summarize what the other person said. even though they had different styles. Alex then told them that he wanted their ideas on how to move forward from here. What could they do to try to work together more cooperatively in the future? He moved to his whiteboard. When she finished speaking Bob summarized nicely. Jill was nearly ten minutes late. He spoke a couple of sentences to each one. like a weekly phone call. Each was given a chance to say anything else they wanted to say to the other one. but Alex continued to prompt him. Alex could tell that both seemed calmer and had a better understanding and appreciation of the other. He asked Bob to go first. Bob and Jill gradually began to talk to each other more and more. It didn’t happen overnight but it did happen. Quick. Alex asked each of them which of these things they were willing to commit to. Bob asked Jill a question which she answered politely enough. He explained the rules of being open and honest and truly listening. and Alex stepped in and told her that she would have her turn in a minute. and how Jill’s lack of acceptance had just been the final straw. although without enthusiasm. and said a curt “hello” to Bob.

Problem-solve with them jointly to move forward. Quick. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett 56 . Hold them accountable for new behavior standards. Insist they listen respectfully to each other’s perspective.Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Get those who are fighting together face to face.

then you potentially have a performance issue. It may surprise you to know that the research that’s been done on this issue has found that productivity gains are a more likely outcome of a romance than a productivity decrease. “I think two of my people are romantically involved. If so. and be ready to help them. especially if one of the parties is a manager. such as transferring one of them to another department. and assume it will be no further problem. You will certainly not want to put your company at risk. or if they are finding a place to hide together during work time. Such charges are serious and should be handled like any other charge of harassment—take this to your human resources department. If the animosity is negatively impacting the morale or productivity of others. in the investigation. If one or both of them is spending too much time in the other’s office or work station.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 13.” ____________________________________________________________________ Your first reaction might be to: • • Pretend like it’s not happening and avoid the subject entirely. Another negative is the office romance that turns sour. Even if you are in a more tolerant organization it’s a good idea to bring it to management’s attention and keep an eye on things. There are actually both some good and some not-so-good things about office romances. Let’s begin with a few of the negatives first. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. We’ll discuss this further in a minute. Put your foot down and order them to have no contact for fear of morale or productivity loss. then you’ll need to speak separately to the parties and possibly take some action. Perhaps the worst fallout from a break-up is the potential for charges of sexual harassment. If you are a supervisor or manager. you will need to enforce your policy. Sterrett 57 . If a break-up occurs. and there is little an organization can do to change that. It should be treated like any other performance issue. There could be performance issues. ~~~~~~~~~~ Office romances are increasingly common. Workdays are often long and stressful. People may become attracted to each other when they spend a lot of time together. Some organizations frown on this kind of thing or even have policies against such relationships. and here’s why. See Challenge 18. you should remain observant of a possible or confirmed romance in your department. Quick. Don’t go to either of these extremes in the case of a romance. Speak to them. then coworkers may find themselves taking sides or walking on eggshells. if needed.

possibly causing you to lose your workers’ respect. Rob seems to be spending a lot more time over here these days and always close to Kate. Whether or not attraction leads to a relationship. In cases where the workers marry. there is relatively little the company can do about this beyond a coaching session to help them consider the ethical implications of what they are doing. Quick. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. the increased sexual energy often leads to greater productivity as they channel the energy into their work. In the first place. The largest percentage of both CEO’s and employees surveyed in a recently-published study believe that a romance is a personal issue and not a company issue. If the relationship breaks up. Sterrett 58 . Their job performance is at stake. And that’s the scuttlebutt. too. If others are prone to gossip. especially if job performance continues to remain high. it is none of their business. However. be sure to monitor the aftermath. If your company has a “no fraternization” policy. and you will be the target of charges of favoritism—whether or not favoritism really exists—and the butt of jokes. it’s really not the organization’s business. A good rule of thumb in most cases is probably to keep an eye on the situation but don’t get overly concerned unless performance or morale is clearly an issue. love can be a great boost for a couple’s morale. Even if you are discrete. in fact. it’s time to meet with both parties separately and let them know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.If you are concerned at all about your own career do not let yourself get involved romantically with someone in your department or with your own manager. management will frown on this. Kelly. you may be on shaky legal ground to enforce this kind of a rule.” Larry told his boss. If the breakup is hostile and other employees are expected to take sides. evidence that romance may spur productivity. You may find additional pointers in Challenge 31 on dealing with gossip and rumors. do your best to give no credibility to the rumors. and a negative attitude could reflect badly on their review. ******** “It kinda looks to me like there is something going on between Kate and Rob. They understand each other’s jobs better and know the personalities of co-workers more than the typical married couple. There are a few good—or at least neutral—aspects of a workplace romance. You are within your rights to coach or counsel both parties about the situation and to encourage them to keep all contact outside working hours. With long and stressful hours common in many workplaces. The company benefits from this renewed energy or the couple’s desire to impress each other by turning in superior performance. There is. If one or both parties are married. they settle into a routine in which the company plays an important role. either. the organization could have an angry spouse or two to contend with.

and she really liked him. Larry tried to listen patiently.” Larry took Kelly’s advice.” “Kate’s still doing a good job. After she had said what she needed to say. the best clerk in his billing office. and Kate didn’t say anything to him. so he wasn’t concerned. but she wanted to avoid him for a little while until she could face seeing him again. The next day. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. we had a romance that went bad. and over the next few weeks he just observed Kate. but he had heard her tell her co-workers when she was teased that. unless it starts to result in one or both of them not getting their jobs done. She really loved Rob and was heartbroken with the breakup.” said Kelly. she was visibly depressed and quiet. she began talking to one of the other women in the office that she was friends with. Sterrett 59 . while she was crying and telling her friend about her situation. “Oh. She had her pride and would not grovel to get him back. “I hate these things. Then it becomes our business.” One Monday morning Kate called in sick. he would hear the other clerks making comments and laughing about Kate’s boyfriend and other similar things. and both parties had enlisted people to be on their “side” after the Quick. Kate still had not said anything to Larry. and we were all relieved. From time to time. and keep me posted. Larry happened to walk in during this time. Both of them seemed to get their work done. Rob was nowhere to be seen. and she was devastated. “Rob was very special. But he stayed out of it.Kelly sighed. Larry asked her what was wrong. So just keep an eye on things. She said they had broken up over the weekend. Not knowing what had happened to make her cry. and when she returned on Tuesday. and he didn’t think it was a problem because they were both unattached. He told her about the situation that Kelly had had at the university where a romance had turned really sour. There’s really not much anybody can do. in the hallway and he brought up the situation. She stuck very close to the office and seemed to throw herself into her work. he encouraged her to throw herself into her work and to use it as therapy. Art told him that Rob was a good worker. Kate said. and that’s all she would say about it at first. She’s one of the best clerks I’ve ever had. She followed Larry into his office and proceeded to tell him the whole story. They ate lunch together every day and often left work together. One day he saw Rob’s boss. When I worked at the university. it’s Rob…” Larry asked if she wanted to talk about it. She said Rob had broken up with her. Over the next few months Rob and Kate seemed to become even more of an item. But it sure can complicate things if it goes bad between them. The relationship with the new computer network technician down the hall continued. and Larry overheard one of his other workers ask Kate about him. “so we sure don’t want to lose her.” “I know. the IT manager. Kate hesitated and then nodded. presumably spending time together after work. She still hoped he would come to his senses. and the administrative offices were a mess for months afterward. The man finally got another job.

Quick. we don’t want yours or Rob’s career or job performance to be tarnished by anything as sticky as what Kelly had at the university. Points to remember: 1) Monitor the situation carefully to ascertain whether performance is being negatively impacted. but be careful not to infringe on their private matters. counsel both parties that petty behavior and asking employees to take sides is unacceptable and could impact negatively on their performance appraisals or careers. “I’d like for you to consider seeing an employee-assistance counselor to get advice and support. “If possible.break-up. they both expressed the hope that Kate could handle the break-up in a mature way that did not involve the taking of sides. They would both need to keep a close eye on the situation. When he told Kelly later about what had happened and what he had suggested. 2) Remind the parties of any company policy you may have.” Kate agreed to look into some counseling.” Larry said. Larry told her he appreciated her dedication to her work and her star performance. but I encourage you to get some support to get through this time. He said he knew she could get through this. Sterrett 60 . 3) If a hostile breakup occurs. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. I think you are much more sensible than that.

this is likely to spread like a cancer and infect others. After all. immoral. then chances are good others are suspecting something too. ~~~~~~~~~~ If you are noticing a possible problem. Do not be accusatory or threatening. non-threatening tone. Maintain an open mind. If you fail to take action against your one or two perpetrators. Whether the offense is about questionable use of funds or other resources. consult with your manager. Does their explanation seem believable? Could you have misinterpreted what went on? If it does. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. treatment of customers or suppliers. unless it is a very big offense.” ____________________________________________________________________ You may be tempted to: o o Let it go because. If you do not have a Human Resources Department. you should get the advice and participation of your Human Resources Department. The organization’s ability to carry on its mission is violated when even one or two are engaging in behaviors that are illegal. so don’t let it go on. Do an informal coaching inquiry as soon as you suspect something is amiss.” If the violation or suspected violation is quite serious. Sterrett 61 . Tell them the facts of what you saw. Sit down with the employee privately. or they can offer no explanation. or overheard without being judgmental. dishonest. When you let one person continue to get away with something questionable. after all.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 14. or something else. Assume it’s none of your business and forget about it. But don’t. Remind them firmly but kindly what kind of behavior is expected of someone in your department and your organization. “I have an employee who I think is being unethical. At this early stage you are simply trying to gain an understanding of what’s happening. End your story by throwing it back to them and saying. “What is all that about?” or “What’s going on here?” It’s their responsibility. and there is a good explanation of the behavior in question. Have they Quick. The paragraphs below give you some guidance in how to handle this. you should not wait until you have specific and overwhelming proof. it is possible your impression is wrong. Practice ahead of time how you will say this to the person until you can say it in a business-like. read. to offer an explanation. it’s hard to confront somebody if you’re not absolutely certain they are doing what you suspect. This is very serious. then others will lose all respect for you. then. give them the benefit of the doubt this first time by assuming they are telling the truth. or would be judged by most people as “shady. You can and should continue to observe what comes next. falsification of data. a blatant lie.

He insisted that Quick. But that didn’t really make sense either. At least he was when he first started. or if they admit to doing something unethical. If the offense is large in magnitude. Ramon decided to look at the data for himself. Sterrett 62 . Phil and two other researchers had been running independent trials on a new combination of ingredients for a turkey snack food. His newest employee. continuing the questionable behavior despite your warning? Be observant and gather new evidence. in fact. sure enough. with possible termination after you investigate more thoroughly. Ramon decided he had to talk to Phil. if needed.” surely he knew he would get caught by being so far out of line with the others on the study. If the offense is quite large. you are likely to come out with the best decision possible for the long-term good of the organization. While the incident should be kept as confidential as possible. By using multiple decision-makers. Then consult with your own manager and/or with your Human Resources Department. The only logical explanation for something like this was that some of the data was being fabricated. you may place them on suspension. such as a written warning with the next step being termination. so he asked Phil to come to his office. As the manager of research and development for one division of a national poultry producer. tell your employee you will have to discuss this with some other people before you decide what should be done in this case. and he had never known them to be anything other than scrupulously honest. because if he was “cheating. you should plan to institute some type of discipline. He asked Phil to close the door. and. At first Phil denied that he had been doing anything wrong. If the employee will not admit to any wrongdoing. and Ramon presented him with the comparison of the data. He hated not to trust Phil. Any organization that allows shady practices is unlikely to be around long-term. Ramon always tried to select employees with good research backgrounds. Of the options available to you. consider what may be appropriate for the particular offense. it may even be necessary to get other members of management in on the situation. had come to him about six months ago and had good lab research credentials. but he simply could think of no other explanation. Phil had been a good person to have on the team. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Now Ramon was not so sure. Rather than make this decision of the appropriate disciplinary step on your own. One of the other researchers on the project had commented that Phil had seemed to be flying through his studies and getting superior results in comparison to the other two. The other two on the project had been with him for years. ******** Ramon thought he had a problem. you will want to investigate much more closely in order to be sure you have the evidence you need to legally terminate them. Phil’s data deviated rather sharply from the findings of the other researchers. Phil.reformed and mended their ways? Are they.

I may still let you go over this incident. I’ll talk to you as soon as I make my decision. “I don’t like accusing people of something like this. After all. have an informal coaching inquiry session with the employee immediately. right after Ramon terminated him. In the meantime. Phil. He was also inclined to call the other company and let them know about Phil’s actions. consider suspension while you investigate further. Quick. After all. “I want to think about this for a day or so. Just how far should Ramon go with this? Ramon told Phil. His inclination was to fire Phil. 3) Remind the employee of your expected standards of behavior. 4) If the offense is grave or they admit to wrongdoing. I am going to consult with HR about this and get their advice.” When he consulted with the HR manager later that day about Phil. give them the benefit of the doubt if you can but be observant of their ongoing behavior. Have you altered this data?” When confronted with a direct accusation. but frankly. Points to remember: 1) If you suspect anything unethical.” and he did not have an explanation for why two of his colleagues were getting more modest results. This was a serious enough incident and one that he clearly knew was wrong. she can start over with it. As for whether or not they would call the competitor and blow the whistle on Phil. At that point. and their recommendations for new products were taken as significant drivers of the company’s success. Finally Ramon said. She would decide whether there was any remorse and if he had learned his lesson. He said he was being considered for a position as R & D Manager for a competitor. and he had wanted his research records to look outstanding. He begged Ramon not to tell anyone and not to get him in trouble so as to jeopardize his possible employment with the new company. Sterrett 63 . if he would cheat to get the job. this company’s future rested partly on the data collected in its research labs. Now Ramon had an ethical dilemma himself. she decided to wait and make that decision when Phil came to her for his exit interview tomorrow morning. he would probably cheat while on the job. I’ll move Jan to your project and let her work with Allan and Bill. It would be awfully hard to trust him after this. 2) Ask for an explanation. Ramon thought this was a good idea. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Ramon’s impression was confirmed. but I just have no other explanation of these results. Angela’s advice was that Phil should be fired for this. and he made himself ready to carry out the plan first thing tomorrow morning. she did not think they should keep him on the payroll.his methods and his results were “by the book. Phil finally admitted his culpability. she and Ramon would confer again about whether to call the competitor. I want you to go back to helping with the regular sample testing where you started out when you came here. He had just taken a little liberty with the data.

If you take a lecturing approach with them. and you keep hoping they will catch on. Listen carefully—is there any sign of doubt or frustration for them. either. but you can’t completely let it go. honestly. “I’ve got an employee who tries hard and just can’t get it. and it will almost certainly make their attitude worse than it was. this will promote a continuation of their good attitude. and I want to take some steps to help you improve. On the other hand. If that doesn’t seem to work. ask yourself whether they have had enough time to actually learn the job. Get rid of them right away because they are incompetent. you and others begin to get frustrated at having to do a share of this person’s work. talk to the employee privately. It could be they learn more slowly or that they were not adequately prepared for the job. But don’t. or correct mistakes they have made. don’t be too hasty to fire them. it will not improve their performance. and they may still be able to improve. Have they been adequately trained? How long does it take other people in a similar position to learn the job? It does take some people longer to learn something new than others. They realize that others have to help them or that they are slower than their co-workers. Sterrett 64 . you appreciate their enthusiasm and commitment. but I’ve noticed that it takes you a long time to complete the data entry and generate the daily reports. If you have an employee who seems to be trying and wants to do a good job but can’t catch on to the work. Your first course of action is probably to retrain them on all or part of their job tasks to see if that helps. Here is what you should do. When you first notice deficient performance and slowness in catching on. it may be different than they expected.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 15. On the one hand. Ask them for their suggestions as to what would help them. Whether they do or do not admit to having some trouble with the job. you need to tell them. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. “Your positive attitude is a great asset here.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Let it slide because they try so hard. and they are often very likeable members of the team. Ask them how they like the job and especially ask how they think they are catching on. Will more training help? Can they shadow someone? Can they Quick. too? Most people have an idea when something is difficult for them.” If you approach the situation from a proactive and helpful position. what you see. Observe or ask them what they are still having trouble with and focus training efforts on that. this is a real dilemma. I’m concerned about whether you’re really catching on. ~~~~~~~~~~ Because it’s costly to lose an employee and have to rehire and retrain.

but she needed to tell him that she had gotten some complaints lately about the information he had been giving out. just like he thought he was supposed to be in a company that emphasized good customer service. If a certain amount or quality of output is expected of everyone. Then be diligent yourself in the follow-up with them. Vicki told him that she knew customers liked him. if one person’s performance drags the group down. Vicki was patient but thorough. The next day she got her chance and called him into her office. refer to Challenge 18 which discusses how to deal with someone who refuses to perform. Sterrett 65 . termination may be the only option. At first he had asked questions when he didn’t know something. Donnie was upset that people would be critical of him. If their performance has not met your standards by the date you have jointly set. Donnie. Compliment them profusely for any progress they are making. Quick. and he was just not catching on. the claims manager. you will need to decide if there is another position or department which might be better suited to their interests or abilities. If not. but lately he seemed to think he knew the answers…and he didn’t. You should make them aware of the performance standards you are expecting. her including her newest team member. Advice on terminating with dignity is in Challenge 6. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. She had recently gotten a number of complaints about the information Donnie had passed on. they need to be able to meet the same standards after a generous trial period. She began by asking him how he thought he was doing. He was very attentive to customers.take on only one task or project at a time and learn that thoroughly before they move to the next part of the job? Can they take a class? Can you work with them on an instructional or coaching basis? If your slow employee wants to continue in the job. ******** Southern Security Insurance Company was an underwriter of home and business insurance in the southeast U. Vicki. you run the risk of reducing the entire team’s morale. Vicki decided she had to sit down and talk with Donnie. Agree that you two will confer again privately on a certain date a few weeks in the future. She proceeded to tell him exactly which claims had been handled incorrectly and explained to him in each case what was wrong. She did not let his emotion stop her from saying what needed to be said. and check in frequently with your employee to give them immediate and frequent feedback. had eight claims adjustors working for. Her claimants liked Donnie—at first anyway. Donnie had worked for her for nearly four months. Make sure they are clear about what you expect. If you have an employee who is not catching on and also has a poor attitude. Donnie was a likeable guy with twelve years of construction experience. Donnie was cheerful and said he really liked it and thought he was doing a great job.S. Otherwise. he was giving people erroneous information. the two of you should agree on a plan of action to improve their performance.

She asked Donnie what else they could do for him to help him catch on to the job. They appreciated his enthusiasm and really needed him, but it was important to be thorough and to ask for the answers if he didn’t know how to respond to a customer’s question. In each case, it seemed, Donnie hadn’t really known the answer so he had made up his best guess, based on his limited experience, rather than seem like he didn’t know and make the customer have to wait for an answer. Vicki told him that he absolutely could not continue to do that—accuracy was one of the keys to customer service. Accuracy was even more important than promptness. She asked if he would like to be assigned to a mentor in the department. She had used Miguel once before in a mentoring role with a new adjustor and found him to be helpful and a good trainer. She had asked Miguel whether he would be willing to do this again, and he had agreed. Donnie also agreed to try this solution. Vicki told him she was sure he could learn all the needed information, and his future progress in the job was dependent on his progress in the next month. She and Donnie arranged to get back together one month from today to review his progress. Privately, Vicki was not at all sure Donnie was going to make it, but this would make or break his employment. He was on notice now that his performance was not acceptable. The next month would tell her whether or not Donnie would have to be terminated. Points to remember: 1) Ask for their assistance on how you can help them improve; provide additional training and instruction. 2) Set a plan and a deadline for improvement. 3) Compliment any and all progress you see in the right direction. 4) If all else fails, terminate them with dignity.

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____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 16. “I have to supervise somebody I don’t like.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might want to: o o o Look for ways to fire them. Tell them off. Avoid them completely.

But don’t. Here’s what to do instead. ~~~~~~~~~~ Admit to yourself that you have a bad attitude about this person. It may honestly feel to you that your bad attitude is justified, based on what the person has done. Whatever the reason and whenever it started, they push your buttons…and they know it. They may seem to take delight at being able to get to you or throw you off. When you let this happen, they are in control, and you are not. In order to regain your sense of confidence and self-respect, you are going to have to come to some kind of truce. You can’t do your job effectively under these conditions. You, as the manager, will have to be the one to initiate a change. Begin by making a list of three or four good qualities this irritating person has. Write them down! There must be a few things the person does well. If not, they shouldn’t be working for your organization. Because you dislike them, you have distorted your thinking to believe that they are all bad. Be honest, now! This person, just like everyone else, including you, has both good and bad qualities. After you have made your list, look for the next possible opportunity to notice one of these good things about your difficult employee. Take a deep breath and give them an honest compliment. Just make yourself do this. “Thanks for helping clear up that backlog, Pete. We all appreciate it.” Continue to find opportunities to say something pleasant to this person. At first they may mistrust you, but keep it up anyway. Watch their response over the next couple of weeks. They will nearly always begin to soften their attitude toward you; this will help you begin to like them just a little bit better. The idea here is not that you intend to make this difficult person into a good friend. You are simply trying to move to a place where you can tolerate and accept each other. Forget what they have done in the past. It’s over. You are trying to build a better future. You must keep going out of your way to be nice to them. Gradually, over time, you will be able to grow this to a mutual respect, and you are likely to find this person turning into a supporter, if you remain positive with them. We can all learn to respect even those people we strongly disagree with and those with whom we have little in common.

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Turning the person you don’t like into someone you can tolerate is entirely in your hands, and it will diminish your supervisory headaches tremendously. Your employee will feel more a part of the team and is much less likely to be perceived as a trouble-maker. It’s up to you to initiate the changes. If they are making your life miserable, then swallow your pride and just do it. It will give you a tremendous feeling of confidence and control. ******** Carlos was the first-shift line supervisor at an air conditioning manufacturer. Last month he had lost a welder on his line and his boss, Gary, the production manager, had moved a welder, Dave, from second shift to first. Dave had seniority and was a good welder, so it was logical to move him to the preferred shift. The trouble was that Carlos did not like him from the very first day. He considered Dave to be loud and obnoxious. Dave did not take supervision or instruction well. Dave’s attitude and comments also bordered on offensive. Carlos was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage. He was aware that he had to continue to prove himself, although his machine operating skill and mechanical ability and his quiet, but firm style of leadership made him a natural choice for line supervisor. He knew that there were a few people who thought he had gotten promoted just to make the company look more diverse. Try as he might, Carlos just could not stand being around Dave, so he began to avoid him. Whereas before Dave came on board, Carlos had spent a considerable portion of his day being visible and approachable to his employees, he now spent more time in his office. His boss noticed the change in his behavior and questioned him about it. Carlos admitted that he was having a hard time adjusting to the “new guy.” Gary told him that he was too good a supervisor to let that get to him, and he would have to find a way to get along better with Dave. Carlos finally decided to approach his Human Resources office, and there he found Polly, the HR Manager, who had been helpful to him once before. Polly listened patiently to Carlos’ concerns and gave him some advice. She instructed him to continue being present out on the production floor the way he had always been. He couldn’t allow his feelings about Dave to compromise his relationships with the rest of his workers. She also told him that in order to neutralize Dave’s attitude, he would have to try a bold step: try complimenting Dave or praising him. Because Dave was a good welder, he did good work, and Carlos should purposely begin noticing and acknowledging that. Carlos reluctantly agreed to try this. Polly asked him to come back to see her in two weeks to tell her how it was going. He wanted to start immediately before he could talk himself out of it, so Carlos went directly to the floor and began wandering around and speaking to people, the way he always had. He made himself speak a pleasant word to Dave also. Dave grunted in response, but he did not say anything offensive.

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Quick.” he said. Carlos felt pleased that he was succeeding where it had seemed hopeless. Maybe they were just coming to a point of truce after learning to know more of what they could expect from each other. he told her he thought it was working. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. When he went back to see Polly a couple of weeks later. Carlos smiled back and continued his rounds. “Well. and it was looking much cleaner and more organized. Sterrett 69 .” said Dave. “He wanted to see if he could get to you and get the upper hand. Polly smiled and told him she thought Dave just needed some attention and had been trying to get it in negative ways when he first came to the department. 3) Make yourself compliment them for anything they do well--even if it makes you cringe. and he never really thought it would. He thought to himself. 2) Look for something the person does well. So he commented on that. He had really only tried it because he had no other idea. Keep it up—you’re doing a good job.Later that day when Carlos walked around again. he paid attention and noticed that at some point Dave had cleared out the work area.” Polly told him as he left her office. but he was smiling. and he gained a new sense of self-confidence in his own supervisory ability. now we have broken the ice. “You’ve got things looking a lot better here.” she said. and he said it without hostility. “Dave also may have been testing you a little. it really did seem to be working. and I just have to keep at it. Points to remember: 1) Work on your own attitude – keep an open mind that it is possible to improve. he developed a new respect for you. Thank you for that. Dave was a bit less obnoxious and offensive. 4) Continue going out of your way to be respectful. “Glad you finally noticed. When you didn’t let him do that. To his surprise.” Through the next couple of weeks he went out of his way to be nicer and more complimentary to Dave. But I’m still not sure this will actually work.

Tell them it puts you in a difficult supervisory position. Some examples would be: 1) Spend the same amount of chit-chat time or lunch break time with them as you do with all your other employees. but not too much time while at work. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. so you are now supervising your good friend. Another example is if you are the supervisor and have worked a long time with a particular person and really like them. you need to have a serious talk with your friend. For some supervisors it may be a situation where you were working at the company and hire your well-qualified friend into your department. supervising your friend can put you in a difficult position for these reasons: 1) Other employees may resent you or resent your friend because these employees perceive you as favoring your friend. and you get promoted. consciously or unconsciously. You can still spend time together off the job if you intend to maintain the friendship. Get them to discuss with you an acceptable description of how your friendship can continue in a way that is more acceptable while you are at work. Tell them you have gotten some negative feedback about your friendship. The setting needs to be business and not personal.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 17. and you want to clarify how things are progressing. both as their boss and as their friend. Here’s what you should do. 2) Your friend may. If they won’t listen and refuse to talk about it. Tell them you are concerned about people’s perception of your friendship with them. which is part of your job. ~~~~~~~~~~ One case in which this situation can arise is where you have a good friend at your job. even though you are their boss. you may need to re-examine whether they are truly your friend. you may think of them as a good friend. Sterrett 70 . Quick.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Ignore them completely on the job so others won’t accuse you of favoritism. “One of the people I’m supervising is my best friend. if you have. As soon as possible. No matter how it came about. They may even get upset with you if you offer them any kind of corrective feedback. expect you to be easy on them because they are your friend. Sit down with them privately in your office or conference room. Continue your friendship exactly the same as it’s always been. But you can’t really do this.

Tim tried to treat all of them just like he had done before. Tim. Sam. But be forewarned: to socialize with employees frequently or be good friends with them can make your life very challenging indeed. however. 5) Keep work at work. Tim got the job and began supervising Sam and the others. don’t develop close personal relationships with your employees. You have a responsibility to the organization in your supervisory role. Keep personal separate from work. managing workplace friendships is important. tell them clearly what you expect of them in return. left for a higher-paying job at a commercial construction company. 4) If the friendship is an important or long-standing one. The work was hard but enjoyable. and will continue to hold them. It will make your life easier if you consider your employees “friends” and are friendly with them. When you are in management. the more awkward it makes things for you as their supervisor. especially after being a corporal in the Marines. Work with them on some examples of situations that arise in your specific workplace and the action you will need to take. Any true friend will understand and respect you for this. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Certainly. said he thought Tim would be great. you should be “friendly” and even socialize occasionally off the job. If you have the option and don’t already have a friend working for you. their crew chief. But the closer you get to an employee. his best friend from high school. when he and Sam were going fishing or to a ballgame together. Their crew was very compatible. not quite two years ago. be done successfully if you and your friend can both act in a mature and honest manner. It can.” as he had been before the promotion. he thought he Quick. When Rodney.2) Go out of your way to include others who may have felt left out. Sam had worked as a frame carpenter for three years. See Challenge 22 on building the team. but it soon became clear to him that he was no longer “part of the gang. and you will fulfill it. began working there when he got out of the Marines. plan special things you can do outside of work hours. ******** KB Construction is a small company with 12 employees on two crews. KB specializes in building custom homes in the higher-end market. On the weekends. Both you and your friend need to be able to clearly distinguish between those times when you are acting in your supervisor role and those times when you are acting in the friendship role. where you can catch up on your personal lives. Tim immediately expressed interest in the job. Sterrett 71 . to the same standards as you hold everyone else. 3) Tell your friend that you hold them. whose style was much more reserved than Tim’s.

” “It sounds simple. “but I also don’t want to have more expected of me than the others. “they even think you are probably harder on me than on them. “I think we just need to work it out better between you and me—what happens on the job and what happens when we are hanging out together.” said Sam.sensed that things weren’t quite like they were before. “things sure change once you get into supervision. just like I’m another member of the crew. That’s what I’m talking about.” “It’s just I’ve been trying so hard not to show you any favoritism. you can be my friend again.” said Tim. Don’t be so close-mouthed. Sam had been getting flack from the others because he was Tim’s friend. Sterrett 72 . At first Tim was upset and barked back at Sam.” said Sam. “Then when we’re off the job. “See. and the others wanted him to talk to Tim and “calm him down” a little bit.” he said. “Remember how Ed (their supervisor before Rodney) used to do? He really gave us space. which I am. “Sometimes it is just hard to hit a happy medium. Sam was reluctant to talk about work when they were off the job. and we respected him and worked our tails off for him. So what is it you and the guys want me to do or not do?” Sam suggested he back off a little bit. Sam gave him some examples of how he had been hard on them. “I’ll tell you. and less criticism. you know. When he finally made Sam tell him what was going on with him and the others.” said Sam.” Quick. He decided to talk to Sam about it.” “Well. “That’s exactly why I didn’t want to talk to you about work. I was afraid you’d get mad if we gave you any constructive criticism at all. He told Sam he’d try to balance things a little better. I promise not to jump down your throat. I didn’t realize how much different things would be. stop looking over their shoulders every little bit. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. “No. But.” Tim agreed that he had probably been a little too pushy in his effort to impress his superintendent and even to impress the crew. and I’m gonna try it. Give me some idea of how I’m doing with all this. It’s pretty new to me. and began to tell Sam how he hadn’t realized there would be so much pressure on him from his superintendent. You are. do you think? Do they think you get special favors?” Tim asked. and Tim really had to pin him down to get him to talk. on the job why don’t you just treat me like we are not friends. you know.” In a few minutes Tim had calmed down.” said Sam. you are going to have to help me. “Do any of the guys resent our being friends. give them more space.” Tim replied.” “You’re right. We’re too good o’ friends for that. Sam finally told him they thought Tim was being too hard on them all.” “I’ve never expected any special favors. He always wanted to change the subject.

you got it. 2) A true friend will understand that you have a job to do and will respect that. buddy.” said Sam.“Okay. They shook hands. and then got in the truck to go down to the river for some good fishing. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett 73 . 3) Don’t develop close friendships with those you supervise if you can help it. Points to remember: 1) Have a serious conversation with your friend and clearly outline the rules for working together. Quick.

not the norm. a person who takes every opportunity not to work is saying they have little interest in you or your job. Here’s what to do instead. “You just try and get a good day’s work out of me. thinking you are not genuine or that they cannot Quick. giving them strict task-focused coaching (instructions. the job isn’t what they expected it to be. You have to do this. Catch your employee at one of the (rare?) times he or she is working well or has just turned in some good work.” This type of employee is. You can really disarm your negative employee if you begin going out of your way to be nice to him or her. The real key to improving their attitude and motivation is to improve your relationship with them. “I couldn’t care less.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Put up with it. Realize that the attitude you have toward people is exactly the attitude you will bring forth from them.” At the other end of the scale. then this is clearly not an ability problem. Get angry with your employee and come down with an iron fist on them. Try first being as respectful. I dare you. This may develop slowly but continue making extra effort for a number of weeks to see if you can soften them up. you should consider looking at your own attitude first. they have personal or other distractions. If you have too many employees with attitude problems. They may resist at first.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 18. polite. That low-performing attitude may show itself in one of several ways. ~~~~~~~~~~ Generally. even if you don’t want to! Chat with them a minute. You can set the tone for a great deal of improvement in this area if you completely change the way you relate to them. If the unmotivated person knows their job well and just won’t do it or won’t do it consistently. Observe and listen carefully on the job to find out what does motivate them. they don’t like the company. You might be tempted…but don’t. This may surprise them and make them wonder what you are up to. I’ve got an employee who just won’t do the work. Therefore. Most people want to do a good job at work. and the like) is much less effective than getting them on your side. practice. and thank them. you may have the very negative. The person may be fairly pleasant but let you know by word and deed that. There may be a number of reasons—they don’t like you. monitoring of performance. and kind as you possibly can with your problem employee (even if you know they don’t deserve it!) Employees are seldom lazy or surly if they have a good relationship with their boss. They know what to do and how to do it. thinking this is the best you can do. What do they get a spark from? Talk to them about whatever it is they love. clarification of goals or standards. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. fortunately. Sterrett 74 .

If you have given up in frustration. Ask them for advice on a problem. however. now. you need to take specific action. If wasting time is the problem. Sterrett 75 . Consider the “surly” employee a supervisory challenge that you can overcome. you may need to consider termination. Continue to be helpful and pleasant. In most cases you owe it to yourself and your organization to try everything possible before you give up on them and assume you will need to terminate them. But letting yourself get bitter with resentment will not help at all. Challenge 19 on extreme negativity may help you. chances are you have both learned to respect each other more. Or ask them to work with someone else who is less skilled in their particular strength. This will have a detrimental affect on performance for the whole group. it is the supervisor’s responsibility to help provide and inspire much of the motivation. Compliment and recognize their best skills. If the employee in question is a good performer but has a negative attitude. Show appreciation for any steps they make in the right direction. and to the rest of your employees to dive in and help save the unmotivated person…or let them go elsewhere. Some employees need to feel important. and you want to avoid that. Quick. Challenge 16 on supervising someone you don’t like may also contain ideas that will help you. If you have honestly tried being nice (be honest.trust you. You owe it to yourself. Once they know they have gotten the better of you with their lack of motivation. If you have a whole group that’s underperforming. See if you can find a way to make them feel important. If so. most will begin to come around. If your employee honestly can’t learn the job. read Challenge 15. then read Challenge 20. have you really?). One person with a serious bad attitude can bring down the morale of the whole team. follow the advice on progressive discipline and documentation in Challenge 6 for terminating someone. Challenge 24 may help you. they often enjoy this very much. Several other sections in this book may be helpful to you in dealing with this employee. you will have to make a judgment about whether they are negatively impacting the whole team. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. With patience. Just this simple act of recognition and validation may be all that’s needed. If and when you can honestly say you’ve tried everything and their attitude or performance has not improved. to your organization. this is the type of individual who probably likes to be in control. Promise yourself that you will take sixty days to help them turn their attitude and behavior around. When it becomes a definite performance problem that you can document with your unmotivated employee. This employee may very well begin to work for you willingly and even become an ally. The truth is. They may have the perception—right or wrong—that their particular talents or abilities are being ignored. Turnover costs the organization money. then you are approaching this employee the wrong way. Do not continue to tolerate substandard performance or a negative attitude over an extended period of time from any one person. If this occurs.

She had rarely had to do this because she had such good workers. Julie tried to be upbeat and tell her. Julie had gotten complaints from her other workers. Amanda needed to be sure that she returned from breaks and from lunch within the allotted time. She told Amanda that she was concerned about her level of performance. She practiced how to speak up firmly and professionally. Amanda tried hard to argue and defend herself that she was working as hard as she could. Amanda seemed surprised. The work was pretty complex. It gave her a rough idea. and the concerns Julie had about the phone. after all. She had been in her current position for nearly five years. In that time. she prepared more carefully exactly what she would say. Julie started making notes of the times when Amanda was on the phone with her boyfriend or took too long coming back from breaks. that she needed Amanda to work a little harder. Julie also told Amanda she was assigning her the task of being the primary person to Quick. Julie knew she was going to have to confront Amanda again. About six months ago one had retired. Julie hated these kinds of situations. When she met with Amanda this time. At first she defended Amanda. Amanda told Julie that. It was finally becoming clear that Amanda was simply not trying very hard. and her position had been filled by Amanda who had come to them without much experience but had a wonderful positive attitude and a two-year degree. her attitude and work habits were fine. but Julie went on to outline the times when she had been on personal calls during work hours. nicely. the dates when she was late from break. and Julie was fortunate to have four dedicated workers. although that was not an entirely accurate comparison because some accounts were more involved than others. Amanda left Julie’s office all smiles. They did not. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. saying she just needed more time to catch on. Lately. So this time. She called Amanda in and cheerfully asked her how everything was going for her. they had had very little turnover. Sterrett 76 . personal calls were for lunch time or break time. She was afraid she had not been forceful or direct enough. Julie was more direct. and Julie knew she would have to confront her. of course. but all that had changed. She started getting daily figures on the productivity of each of her clerks. though. So Julie told her firmly but kindly that there were some new rules she would have to abide by: no personal calls on company time. Amanda had shown many signs of being disinterested in the work. Julie decided to watch for the next week or two whether things improved. After about three weeks. She would often pretend to be busy so somebody else would answer the phone. In the beginning. She began noting how many times Amanda would let the phone ring.******** The accounts payable office of a major food processor was supervised by Julie. She spent time on the phone each day with her boyfriend. Amanda was evidently very happy with her own performance. she would do everything she could to do her best work because she really liked this job. Her output on the job was noticeably less than the others. and Julie worried that she had not conveyed the point to Amanda at all.

Julie stood firm and told her that she wanted to see how it would go with these new arrangements.answer incoming calls. This way she knew she could cover herself if she needed later evidence of what she had done in this situation. and she would see if Amanda started doing better. the final step of which is termination. Julie made a careful note of her counseling session with Amanda and what they agreed to do. and they would talk again at the end of next week. If not. Amanda was obviously not happy when she left. This time. she would pick up the call by the second ring. 4) If all else fails apply progressive discipline. Julie would start to implement disciplinary action with her. Amanda protested that she could not get her work done if she had to answer all the calls during the day. 3) Try to make them feel that their contribution is especially important to the team. Points to remember: 1) Try to catch your employee doing something right and compliment them. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett 77 . but Julie realized that she had said what needed to be said. She had gotten her point across. Julie knew she had handled it well. Quick. seven workdays from now. This meant that unless she was on the phone already or out of the department. 2) Work on your own attitude and try to build a stronger relationship with them.

however.________________________________________________ ___________________ Challenge 19. Ask them. because a negative attitude can spread even more quickly than a virus and may soon infect your whole group. When you get together make sure you will have no interruptions and sufficient time. Then tell the employee you want to speak privately to him or her. Just be factual. Observe for a few days and make a note of some specific instances and specific comments that illustrate the problem—things that you find less than acceptable. Notice whatever you can that is positive about their level of performance and thank them. First. “Do you realize how negatively you come across?” Quick. One person who always looks at the worst side of everything can visibly slow down the energy of your department. its productivity. Give them the specific examples you recorded. ~~~~~~~~~~ One serious whiner or cynic in a group can completely topple your team’s morale and. “I’ve got someone who is negative all the time. you need to sit them down and have a talk with them. not accusing. Tell the employee you’re concerned about all the negative comments because the mood spreads to others and tends to lower morale. It’s something you need to deal with and not ignore. consequently. do realize what they are doing and enjoy the fact that they can exert enough control to make others as miserable as they are. Don’t do it. Sterrett 78 . Perhaps they have been negative for so long that they don’t even know themselves why they are negative. They may not realize their sour attitude drains everyone else. Try to get some dialogue going about this. Sit them down and give them a lecture about being more positive. See if you can try to make them feel important. however. prepare yourself for that talk. Write those down—when they occurred and what was said. not a lecture but a discussion. Some. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and avoid making this into a “don’t do that anymore!” lecture. Immediately open it up to them after you have spoken by asking “What’s going on with you?” or “Is something bothering you?” They may or may not be willing to share with you what they’re going through. and set a mutually convenient time. If you have tried this for a few weeks and it does not help. Do this instead. Perhaps feeling appreciated will help them to be less negative. Most of the time these complainers have simply gotten into bad habits in their thinking.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Just let it go and assume that’s the way that person is.

Remind them again how everyone’s mood and motivation is affected by their negative comments and actions and that you will need to see some improvement. this may be a blessing. by this time. You can be understanding but whatever they are experiencing. be sure to notice examples of any time they show a good attitude in the next few days after your conference with them. Whenever you see them trying. then tell them that it doesn’t fit your expectations for behavior and comments at work. they may look for another audience. If they try to tell you that’s just their personality. Before your meeting closes. they can’t let it spread out to everyone at work. or they may need to better utilize their personal support system. Sterrett 79 . Your employee may or may not tell others. This is a situation where you need to be a good listener and a supportive boss. set another thirty-day meeting. and you should use this opportunity to compliment them. try to problem-solve to see if there is anything that can be done to make the complainer’s situation less negative. compliment or thank them. especially if you have not been able to turn their behavior around. If the improvement is still sporadic. They may have personal problems and feel discouraged. This situation should be between the two of you. If so. it’s time to talk about how to fix it. however. set another appointment for thirty days in the future. If they leave you. Keep your one-month appointment with the employee. If you have not seen sufficient improvement at that point. If you fail to hold them accountable. but you must keep it confidential. They have got to be willing to work on the problem. but tell them that you now expect them to try the new behaviors and attitude you have discussed.” Let them know that you expect them to be much more aware of their behavior and their comments. Often. Don’t be rude or angry. no one else can do it for them. After you have talked about the “why” of their behavior. It could be they resent something you or the company has done. Be prepared for the possibility that they may begin looking for other work. This might be anything from “saying ‘good morning’ to everyone” to “don’t talk so much in staff meetings. let them get it off their chest. The final step in improving the person’s attitude is to definitely hold your follow-up meeting. At that time you will need to get together again and review their progress with them. No organization and no Quick. then you have negated the other efforts that you have made to turn this situation around. you may need to initiate progressive discipline. Do it privately. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. If they find their cynicism is not appreciated and not getting them the attention they want. you have seen improvement. They may need a referral to an appropriate resource.Listen carefully to whatever they say. so that other employees do not overhear. Tell them you will ask for their assessment of how it’s going and share your observations. Be clear about your expectations. Open it up to them again by asking “What can you think of that you can do differently?” Keep pressing them for ideas that are specific. See Challenge 6 for the usual steps in this kind of process. and you must keep it that way. To help your employee succeed in developing a better attitude. and don’t get defensive! Just let them say their piece. If they will open up with you at all.

and I just don’t think I can do that. If something nice happened. Volunteer organizations often put up with a lot because they are thankful for what they can get. I call it like it see it in life because I think honesty is important. Curt decided it was time to have a talk with Jerry. one of six paid staff members. more of his mediations failed to come to successful resolution. so I’m really struggling with what to do here. and I didn’t know this was such a popularity contest. Your attitude is so negative and cynical. Jerry was overwhelmingly negative and cynical. He met Jerry for lunch one day and just laid it out for him directly. Interestingly. Mediation is all about hope for positive outcomes for all the parties involved. Curt was dedicated to his work and really loyal to his volunteers. I think we’ll have to ask you to resign as a volunteer. Jerry was one of those few. He rarely had a volunteer he couldn’t get along with. and people don’t want to work at the center when you are around. so even clients seemed to be infected by his sour attitude. That’s just the way I am. “After all. “Okay. So now you’re telling me I need to be Jerry-sunshine. so stand your ground. it’s about time” or “Trust me. We certainly need our volunteers. “Well.” and other similar comments. His role was recruiting. If we don’t see a more positive attitude.” “Did you realize that fewer of your cases are resolved than for other teams of mediators. Jerry’s negative attitude seemed to just spread and multiply in the office. The rest of the team will thank you for it. “Jerry. ******** Curt was a manager of a private non-profit mediation center.” Jerry retorted. Sterrett 80 . It’s like this black cloud follows you. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and I’ve noticed that the mood in the office gets more somber when you come in. too. We’re getting complaints about you. He considered them the backbone of the organization. Jerry would say. I’ll just tell it like it is. and stop being so critical. But I guess what I’m saying is that we really need you to clean up your act. Curt had noticed that when Jerry was on duty the mood in the building seemed more somber. it won’t last. I’m pretty cynical.” Jerry seemed offended and said. I’ll admit it.” Quick. He would turn every situation into an opportunity to complain or pass negative judgment. However. Look on the bright side of things. and that Kevin and Georgette are the only ones who will co-mediate with you?” “I do the best that I can. I’m donating my time.manager should put up with constant bad-mouthing from an employee. and coordinating the vast number of volunteers that his agency relied on to deliver mediation services in the community. training.” “I know you are. There were even some volunteers who work not sign up to work on nights when Jerry was working and only two volunteers who would co-mediate with him.

“maybe this is just not the place for me. 4) Hold a follow-up meeting on your deadline date and hold them accountable for improvement. He realized now that Jerry probably felt embarrassed and would have had a hard time overcoming his pride enough to change his ways back at the center. and he had a new group of five volunteers he had recruited waiting for his next training session. 3) Develop a plan for improvement with a deadline. and if you’ll work with me on this I’d love to have you continue. so I think I’ll just resign right now and save us both the trouble.” Curt tried to calm him down.“Well. I like this work. I’m not getting paid for this. and I won’t bother you any more. I see now that my help is not wanted.” “Well. he had hoped that Jerry would be open to feedback and would try to work with him. Curt was left sitting and wondering if he had handled it correctly. Points to remember: 1) First try to make your negative employee feel appreciated for anything good you can find. He was pretty sure he had done the only thing he could do. and the center would survive. and I used to think I was helping the community in some way. I think you are really sharp. The productivity of his remaining volunteers might improve with Jerry gone. Jerry was a person you had to be direct with. When he began this lunch. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and my style is not appreciated. I just don’t see the need to change my personality for you guys. took his lunch check. Quick. Curt decided that he would move forward from today. and try to help them problem-solve. I’m just asking you to think about the types of comments you make when you are in the office. and you have a lot to offer. “I wish you’d reconsider. Sterrett 81 . 2) Counsel with them about how their comments are unacceptable.” said Jerry. After all. he had hoped for a different result.” He got up. Perhaps it was all for the best. He was committed. and headed for the door. It’s been nice knowing you Curt.

do you often criticize it. Keep reading and you will! If you are part of the problem. or being demanding in your requests? 2) Has it been quite a while since you have said individually to every member of your team “thank you” or given them a compliment for a job well-done? 3) Do you fail to chat with them. or conveniently forget all about it? 6) Do you promote a sense of competition among people in your area in an attempt to get them to work harder or faster? 7) Do you have the idea that the boss should never pitch in and do some of their work. hard look in the mirror. You have a lot of influence on the behavior of those around you if you are in a supervisory role. at least occasionally. Even when you admit you are probably making some mistakes.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 20. about things they are interested in or enjoy (example: baseball. don’t you do it. the good news is that you are also part of the answer. collectively or individually.” ____________________________________________________________________ You may be tempted to: o o Put pressure on them the same way someone is putting pressure on you. If you are not getting the performance you need from your team. To get them to perform better. that doesn’t mean you are a “bad person. take a good. rather harshly—losing your temper. and you may be getting pressure to push your people harder. So begin by asking yourself these hard questions. correcting them angrily in front of others. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. then you are part of the problem. Maybe your team or department performance has been low. Even if you are tempted. Stand over your people all the time to be sure they are working as hard as they can and not goofing off. even during a busy period or crisis? Quick.” It’s just that you haven’t known the right things to do to get performance out of your people. ~~~~~~~~~~ First. You may not want to hear this. use the following guidelines. and answer them honestly! 1) Do you sometimes come down on them. Nothing is going to change about their performance until you are willing to admit that. tell them why it definitely won’t work. Sterrett 82 . their kids)? 4) Are you usually too busy or too uninterested to hear about any of their concerns or ideas about their jobs? Do you dread having to answer their questions? 5) When an employee offers you a suggestion. “My people are all lazy and unmotivated. whether you believe it or not. but people nearly always work hard and perform well for any boss they respect.

Or if you are reading this off work-time. “Cindy. For one thing. they will resent you for it. If a deadline is looming. If you are not genuine. however. People will rally around in a tough time if we give them the opportunity to step forward and if the supervisor shows a genuine appreciation for their efforts. Listen to their ideas. “We haven’t been doing so well lately. You can do better by tapping into their internal motivation by changing your own style just a little. please keep reading because we have some work to do! You certainly have a lot of company if you do some or all of the above. You must avoid telling them exactly what they “have to” do. Tell them you appreciate their ideas. Do this today—right now. When they start taking positive performance steps. So look for Quick. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.” Then let them offer some ideas while you listen carefully. Even in this case. Decide as a group which ideas for improvement you can adopt. and watch how well she performs. You have a choice. you can refuse to let pressure from others make you a tyrant to your group. and they want us to get our numbers up” or whatever. and do not criticize. pitch in yourself and help them! Even if you don’t know exactly what to do.If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions. Find one of your employees and speak to them privately. Now. But do not lecture them or blame them. You can and should be honest with them. you can do a lot to insulate your team and keep their morale and performance high. then compliment them and thank them for the extra effort. Tell them something you appreciate about them. then the worst thing you can do to improve performance in your department is to pass this stress on to the team. people will always see through that and know what’s going on. not just once in awhile but all the time. They will most definitely not step forward if they are lectured to and ordered to improve. don’t misunderstand this and assume that by giving false praise you can manipulate people into working harder. do it in the first hour of your next shift. or even from outside groups. perhaps as a result of some significant organizational change or uncertainty or pressure coming from the top. These and related things are exactly why your employees seem unmotivated. I realize I sometimes get too caught up to let you know this. Here’s another strategy. Many organizations maintain a general sense of unease throughout. If someone is watching you closely. Your employees are always impressed and appreciative when the boss pitches in to help them in a pinch. do what you can and let them “train” you. I know I can always count on you to catch those little things. Simply lay out the situation and ask for their help. Stop dumping on them because you feel dumped on! You must decide to have a positive and helpful attitude to all your employees. Call a group meeting or speak to them individually and be honest.” Then watch Cindy beam. Sterrett 83 . “We’re all in this together. and I’m open to your suggestions about how we can improve. but I want to tell you that I really appreciate your attention to details. Encourage them all to contribute their ideas.

It works! Celebrate your progress with your team. Collin went to see his dad. If you do not do this currently. I also started out telling people what to do when I first had Quick. then try to begin making some posters or charts to visually display your work progress as a group. try to keep it as updated as possible (daily. But you will need to offer genuine compliments and appreciation a number of times to each and every employee. and you have new results to put up on the wall. but he was not at all sure how to get them to do more. and they will voluntarily. work much harder for you—because you have made them want to do it. a retired army officer. His dad asked him some questions. Continue to notice the good things and thank them. He issued clear orders and checked on their progress frequently. Then continue to notice their improved performance. His employees included seven technical and clerical employees. If you already do this. Sterrett 84 . And a compliment has not cost you one red cent of your budget. As the days and weeks go by. Praise them for their efforts. Collin had been as directive as possible with his people. weekly?) so the group gets an accurate indication of their progress. a biologist by training. He thought that’s what a manager was supposed to do. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. It is possible to overdo compliments and sound like you are no longer genuine. ******** The state environmental protection agency is responsible for monitoring the quality of state rivers and streams to be sure they are safe for fish. wildlife. You can certainly think of one or two good things about each person that works for you. recreation. in virtually every case you will begin to see your numbers going in the direction you want them to go. He had also noted their lack of productivity.something that they honestly and truly do well. then offer them a genuine compliment. then consider expanding it a bit. so build up to this over time. was the acting manager of his department in this agency. Collin recently had a semi-annual performance review where his boss criticized his department’s productivity and told him he would not be made department manager unless it improved. Post some metrics to show how your team is doing. What can you measure on your job that is an indicator of the group’s performance? Calls made? Customers served? Units produced? On-time shipments? Complaints? Anything that you can collect numbers on that shows “how many” or “how much” of something was accomplished by your group is something that can serve as a positive motivator. What you measure and reinforce gets better. of their own free will. Collin. they are making you look good. and as public water sources. If you begin posting numbers on some kind of visual chart. A third strategy for improving motivation should be used in conjunction with the above. “You know. or why are they still on your payroll? The person who receives the compliment will be proud. and then said. Remember. Congratulate and thank them.

Then people started coming forward with their ideas. Collin called his father a few times to ask his advice. Steve. and he really wanted to hear their opinions on what should be done to improve their output. He was now convinced that he could turn it around and get the manager position permanently. and I learned that it worked so much better. four immediate needs emerged for changes that would unclog the system. I decided to try managing people like that. He also told them he realized he had probably been too strict and that he was trying to change all that.responsibility for a unit. On Tuesday. was not happy about their department’s productivity. and he was depending on each of them. It was as if the floodgate was opened. and so forth. the day of the staff meeting. He could hardly get them to slow down enough to write them all down.” As he thought about it Collin realized that his dad was probably right. and they were quick to compliment and thank their people. Because they were getting excited about ways to trim waste from the process and ways to move cases through the system more quickly. I bet they will respond. He was pleased to be generating excitement in his people. Finally. Everyone was silent. one person spoke up and said something humorous. Collin had given it some thought. Collin pledged to his staff that he would see to it that something was done to correct these barriers. He was determined and he did deliver on his promises. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Why don’t you try backing off some. which broke the tension. but surprised. and he made nice comments to two of his staff that day. He was starting to get excited himself because this stuff really seemed to be working. Then he stopped talking. When he went back to the office on Monday. I learned they used more of a style where they suggested what should be done. and within two months department performance was considerably better than at Collin’s review time. I started observing some of the officers around me who were getting good results. He had thought when he had the responsibility that he was really expected to have all the answers and tell everyone else what to do. Sterrett 85 . asking people’s opinions.” But Collin surprised some. They seemed pleased. it was a new Collin who called a staff meeting for the next afternoon. His employees went out of the meeting scratching their heads and looking at each other. Collin realized that they would probably begin working harder. Collin got everyone together and began by telling them that his boss. but Collin made himself not jump in and fill the silence. “This is a good start but let’s wait and see whether he delivers on his promises. they asked for people’s opinions. “What’s happening to Collin? Is he actually becoming decent?” asked one. He said he hoped that the department was turning an important corner. He had made a pledge to himself to be more appreciative. this renewed his commitment to making positive changes. But I soon learned there was a more effective way. The army provided me some great training and some good mentors and role models. getting their ideas on how to improve their productivity. Another said. He ended the meeting by thanking them for what they had been doing and for their great ideas. Quick. As they continued the meeting.

4) Post some numbers that show your team’s performance and let those help to motivate them.Points to remember: 1) Check your own attitude and be more helpful and respectful. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. rather than treating them like unruly children. 2) Ask for the team’s help in improving performance and utilize some of their ideas. celebrate when the numbers move in the right direction. 3) Offer people genuine compliments on their work. Sterrett 86 . Quick.

they are likely to resent this and come to the conclusion you do not trust them. We can give some general guidelines. If you have another employee doing some or all of the training. You need to be flexible enough to give each person what he or she needs. Keep this in balance. Quick. the backbone of your department. there is no need to hover. If you do. Only poor managers do it this way…and most of us have had one or two like this! What about the employees who have been with you for awhile and generally are competent in their positions? They are trained in how to do the work in most instances. When you are physically present with your employees—new or seasoned—do so with an attitude of being helpful and noticing things they do well in order to give them compliments and build their confidence. When you have a new employee you may want to check in with the new person frequently at first. Let them do the job their way. they may find it much more difficult to trust or respect you. however. so you should give them space to perform without watching over their shoulders. and be especially patient and pleasant with new people. so be aware of this fact.” But don’t. Sterrett 87 . ~~~~~~~~~~ It’s not possible to make a blanket statement about how often you should be physically present with your employees because they are all different. after all.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 21. however. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. These are the people that you should be careful to notice on a regular basis with some kind of appreciation. If the new employee senses criticism from you at the beginning. Do this instead. check in with the trainer and the trainee regularly to see how it’s going and if they need anything. “How closely should I be checking up on my people?” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o Hover over them to be sure they are working because you believe that’s what a supervisor is “supposed to do. though. Even with a new employee you do not need to hover over them all the time. Being trained by the supervisor can make people nervous. Don’t hang around them with the intent of trying to observe them doing something wrong. If they are producing a sufficient quantity and quality of work. You may even be spending time with them yourself to train them in various procedures and working along side them. They are. and each organization is different. even if their way isn’t exactly like you would do it.

Having a true open-door policy helps. Respect your employees’ time. Using this approach will give you the opportunity to know what’s going on without standing over everyone all the time. but if you truly want to generate maximum performance. after all. both one-on-one and with the whole dispersed team. Remaining available builds solid relationships in your department. Mistrust comes from too little contact. so avoid that problem with regular contact. but they also know that you are not watching their every move.” without praise. For your top performers.” The choice is yours. You need to make extra effort to be available to them. and it makes a dramatic positive difference on your employees’ attitudes and performance. With your experienced people. This means that you are in your office regularly. This is not the time for critique or discipline but the time to speak a pleasant word to each person and to give them the opportunity to voice any concerns or suggestions they may have. and it is much more effective than hovering and micromanaging. it’s true they’ll work a moderate amount. Leaving them to fend for themselves on a regular basis will create little trust or respect for you as a supervisor.” This means to get out of your office at least once a day and walk through the area where your employees work. make sure your visits are short. Try to establish once a week when you can have a short meeting with your field staff. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. just to keep the lines of communication open. simply for the purpose of being available to them. leaving their employees to simply do the best they can when questions arise. This way they make you look good. you will want to appropriately delegate certain authority to them. here’s a word of advice. the best approach is to be around and be visible a few times a day. Sterrett 88 . and listen. because they have proven themselves. One effective strategy is often referred to as “management by walking around. and when they have something they want to discuss you drop what you are doing. if at all possible. you trust them. Let them know you are available to them anytime they call in. Instead of being perceived negatively. If your people are too spread out to get them together. What do you do if you are supervising people who work at a different physical location? If you have field staff who are often away from the office or if you manage people who are scattered throughout a geographic region.For those supervisors who believe you should not have to thank or praise someone just for doing what is expected of them anyway. the ones that you truly could leave on their own with complete confidence that all work would be completed and good decisions made about any problems. but remember that praise costs you nothing. this “walking around” will be something employees generally look forward to. maybe even “hard enough. This is good for your employee and may free you from some of the routine activities Quick. have regularly-scheduled telephone conferences with them. you absolutely must notice the positive and freely pass out compliments and “thank yous. Be very careful of that kind of attitude! Yes. Watching them would be a waste of your time. this is challenging. Make sure they see you and know that you are available. This is a good companion approach to management by walking around. Some supervisors err on the side of never being around or never being available.

The final session was on employee relations and communications.” said one of her experienced nurses.so that you can concentrate on larger or more long-term issues. Perhaps she had been supervising too closely. She was very excited about her new job and anxious to get off on the right foot. closer supervision and support are helpful—until the time when they develop a higher level of competency. Several of her workers commented positively and praised her for being honest with them. Sarah thought about how different this meeting had been from her first one in the department when she had laid out her plans to them. Sarah attended these after about six weeks on the job and really liked them. There is an art to delegating well. Sarah followed them around and observed carefully. Sterrett 89 . Supervision was not a personality contest. “We won’t let you down. It consisted of five half-day sessions. She called another meeting and explained to them that she was sorry she had watched them so closely during her first weeks. She watched them from her office. But Sarah remained firm. so read Challenge 10 on how to delegate appropriately. she reasoned. because you are developing additional talent for the future. and she wanted them to know what she was up to. They like getting things done on their own and take pride in having their own area of responsibility. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Each quarter they had offered a supervisory training program which was required of all new supervisors. even during peak times. and some people had grumbled that they knew their jobs and could do them just fine. Sarah thought about this for several days until she decided she needed to talk to her staff. She wanted everything to fall into place. The trainer maintained that employees who are very competent at their jobs benefit more from loose supervision. Through the training she had she was now convinced that she needed to back off a little bit. Her first day on the job she sat her employees down and explained that she liked to run a tight ship because she was now responsible for everything that went on in the department on her shift. Sarah began to rethink her approach. City Hospital had a good in-service training program. Sarah. Sarah figured that if she provided close supervision there was less of a chance for something to go wrong. For those who are less confident or less experienced. Already there seemed to be a more positive feeling in the department. The trainer presented some information and had them work in small groups on case studies. Delegating is good for the organization too. Her new staff just looked at her with blank faces when she asked if there were any questions. Based on that information and discussion with her fellow supervisors. She had gotten a few mistrusting looks. Quick. ******** Sarah was the newly-appointed nursing supervisor on Ward 6-B of City Hospital. She believed in making sure people knew the rules and letting them know who was in control. Now she’d just have to see if people really did do their assigned work.

4) With your most competent people. and then ask them how often they want you to check in with them.Points to remember: 1) Make sure all your personal contact with employees is aimed at being helpful and available rather than finding fault. Sterrett 90 . delegate authority and responsibility to them and stay out of their way. Quick. be regularly available and present daily. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. 3) With average performers. for field staff have regular telephone contact. 2) With new employees. check in frequently at first.

People collaborate (work together) more readily when they know and appreciate each other as friends. Second. and model. Better working relationships flow from your lead. notall-business setting. An increased level of teamwork can definitely be built among any group over the space of a few months. ~~~~~~~~~~ Teamwork is built primarily from two conditions that are somewhat related. Why not have a monthly event? It could be a carry-in breakfast that costs your department nothing. It could be a pizza lunch that you bring in. and you can be the catalyst. Whatever the event. too! Some specific actions you can take to begin building better teamwork are explained below. Be generous with praise for their efforts. As you continue to build on this over the coming months. these kinds of things can be a great kick-off for your other teambuilding activities. Stop being a grump or losing your temper at work! Don’t promote competition but instead be complimentary when they work together.” ____________________________________________________________________ Your first reaction might be to: o o Assume marginal teamwork is the best any team can do and just let it go.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 22: “We’re not much of a team… and we need to be. It definitely doesn’t have to be a big thing. teamwork will greatly enhance everyone’s ability to work together and achieve more. teamwork comes from working toward a goal together that would be impossible to achieve separately. it’s your responsibility to encourage your people to work together on their tasks—and then to recognize them when they do. Quick. if you have the budget for it. But don’t. Give them strict orders to start working together better. reward. You will want to try to take the first step right away. Think about a sports team that achieves only with the contributions and participation of all. You can learn to build better teamwork. They will probably work better with you. You should also know that teamwork will largely be built on what you recognize. First. Begin with some kind of special event that gets everyone together in a relaxed. It could even be a training session on teambuilding that incorporates many fun activities. teamwork comes from developing mutual trust and respect among members. It could be an inexpensive item like popcorn or ice cream that you take out of the budget. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. tell your people it’s a reward for something (be specific) that your group has accomplished. It could be a Friday afternoon ice cream party. Sterrett 91 . It could even be a Dutch-treat meal at a nearby restaurant. In much the same ways that a coach must train a sports team to work together by learning the moves. Try the following ideas.

Keep it short and focused. This could be anything from supporting a team in some fundraiser event or community league to working on some kind of project together at break time. Start noticing when your employees are helping each other out. one of the two essential conditions that must be present for true teamwork. and compliment or thank them when they do so. This will promote more of a feeling of good relationships and begin to build trust. There are also things you can do to achieve goals together. After you share any necessary information and updates. “We’re all in this together” should be a frequent and repeated theme in your interactions. Even if you are used to telling them the numbers or sending out an email with the weekly/monthly totals. One thing is to encourage some kind of group project. Keep the numbers updated as you get new ones. The numbers will improve when you continue posting them! Limit the numbers you post to no more than three. Sterrett 92 . whether you assigned it or it was voluntary. This exercise also works for face-to-face settings. try a weekly conference call. like fixing up or painting the break room. ask each person to share their most important accomplishment of the week and the most important thing they plan to accomplish next week. Quick. Another fantastic way to encourage the attainment of group goals is to post some numbers that you measure and track about your group’s performance. Give out some funny awards or encourage a round-robin sharing from people on whatever they want to say about the goal you accomplished. try putting up a nice big sign of congratulations. make it festive and fun. go ahead and try a visual format that everyone will see. Any time your group has accomplished any kind of goal together. If they almost never do so. Never criticize them publicly but always show appreciation for whatever they say. You should also think about posting things like this on the company bulletin board or putting it in the company newsletter so everyone knows how great your group is. You can also say something nice or complimentary about each person on the team. Consider appointing a “humor coordinator” and either begin or end each meeting with a tasteful joke or anecdote. Encourage people to share with and assist each other. Have a regular time for face-to-face interaction.Whatever your event. people who laugh together work better as a team. If you reinforce working together they will begin to do more of it. The object of your first event is to have some fun and make everybody feel good afterwards. Set aside a few minutes for fun at each staff meeting. We seldom trust people we don’t know well. Giving people the opportunity to get to know each other better is essential to building teamwork. Make up a poster or visual and let everyone know where the team or department stands on the work they are doing. Thank them for working together. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. begin by assigning two of them to work together on something. If your group is widely scattered and face-to-face meeting is difficult.

******** Richard was the new manager of the water and sewer department of his small county. talk about that item and discuss it at your next staff meeting. He had twelve people working for him. in general. End your comments by stating how the finished product or project would not have been possible without each one of them. you will see a noticeable increase in teamwork. when his supervisor was out with surgery. You can analyze the steps of how it turned out successfully. After this first month on the job. Mitch had given him some pointers when he left—start slow. You can also take this one step further. Richard wanted them to Quick. learn to know everyone. Richard called them together and told them what he had heard from them. He told them what he had learned: that teams are mostly built over time by people getting to know each other better and by working together on some common goals and common problems. One of the things he discovered was that his field teams of two were generally working well together but there was some friction and competition between the teams. thanking each person who was involved. He had learned the value of teams while working for Mitch at the electric commission. introduce some fun activities. and he even learned as much as he could about billing and collections. he followed Mitch’s advice and sat down with every one of his employees to get their input on what could be improved in the department. and a few things like that. You should also ask them if they can think of anything they would do differently next time to make it even better and let people share ideas about this. When Richard began his new job. as one person was often left out and felt alienated. He had gathered several suggestions from them. This kind of debriefing focuses on the attainment of a mutual goal and greatly enhances the feeling of teamwork. Mitch had been a great model for how to get a team to pull together. Richard knew he was hand-picked for this job. Richard had served as interim department manager in his old job. Be patient. Sterrett 93 . If you follow this advice for a few months. When you have a success that took multiple hands and heads to accomplish. The director who had just retired was very old-school and authoritarian in his management style. he took his turn on the phone after being trained by one of his customer services reps. and Richard had some ideas of his own. and he had loved it. He went out on installations and service calls with his field staff. Most of them had told him that the group did not work well together as a team. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.At your next staff meeting review a recently-completed project. Tell the group how well they did and recognize each person’s contribution to the total effort by saying exactly what they did well. praise them for working together. The water and sewer department was not much of a team and everyone knew it. For a few months. four in the office who handled customer calls and billing and eight field services workers on four crews. He thought he was ready for the new challenge of managing a department. Relationships among his office staff were also strained.

He also told them that some weeks he might surprise them with Friday afternoon popcorn when they had had a good week.start small—by having bagels and coffee together each Friday morning before the workday began. Very gradually. Acknowledge and compliment all examples of working together. there were a few glitches. This seemed to work better and got people laughing and warmed up. Quick. and the office productivity began to go up. Richard realized there was still a lot more to do. Richard used his staff meetings as a chance to recognize and praise any of the acts of teamwork he had observed the previous week. He also began having a joke-of-the-week. and he acknowledged their good work when he saw them working as a unit. He agreed to bring the bagels. His first Fridaymorning.bagels event was awkward since there was little mingling or conversation. knowing that it would create better coverage when people had to be out of work. The second Friday morning. He also wanted to begin each week with a Monday morning staff meeting for about 45 minutes to begin the week on a positive note and to promote communication. People were starting to trust and respect each other a little more. but he was confident that he was well on his way to creating teamwork in his department. He kept telling the group they were doing better. During the week. Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Clearly define and talk about the goal you are all working on together. He started this in the office. especially with his field crews. Within three months of the time Richard began working. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Celebrate accomplishment of any goal achieved by the team. Make opportunities to have fun together and learn to know each other better. These events would be occasions for socializing. except among the ones that already liked each other. and he was proud of them. he began giving out assignments that would require two or more people to complete. Sterrett 94 . members of the department began to get on board with the changes. Richard introduced a game he had seen done at a training seminar to introduce people to each other. there was a perceptible change in the office atmosphere. They were cooperating more. Richard also wanted to begin some cross-training. There were a few that were still reluctant to participate and thought there was too much foolishness. As Richard implemented this plan.

so will they. Your people will embrace the change much more readily if you allow them some small opportunity to shape how the change is actually done. Just accept the fact that changes take a very long time in your workplace and you have to live with it. even if none of you have a choice about the change itself. Sterrett 95 . you are in a tough spot—caught in the middle between your responsibility to do your job for the company and trying to support your employees. You may even think your employees are right to complain! To survive in this kind of organization as a supervisor there are two things you should plan to do: 1) Just because you were “ordered” to do something. and 2) not soliciting employee ideas and allowing them input into the form the change will take. Explain to your employees the reason why the change is being made—whatever you have been told or can logically conclude. ~~~~~~~~~~ The reason most employees resist change is because it has been implemented badly. ask yourself if it is really necessary for you to “order” your employees to do it. You may have considerable control over exactly how you present the change and how you will comply with the change order. “My people just will not accept any kind of change. “We have to try to make this work out. and order them to do what’s needed. call them together for a meeting and lay out honestly what you have been told to do. There is a better way. Most companies do not understand the change process well enough and. so let’s give it our best shot. Your attitude needs to be: we have to make this work. If you have reservations yourself about the change you can be honest but always add.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 23. You are the one who gets all the employee complaints. Don’t do either of these things.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Lay down the law. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. therefore.” If they complain loudly. tend to make many mistakes when implementing a change. regardless of your personal feelings about the decision. Two of the biggest mistakes most organizations make are: 1) providing too little warning or information on an upcoming change or why a change is even needed at all. Be very careful here not to criticize the organizational decision-makers. If you are in an organization that simply announces a change and expects you to comply. If you felt resentful. To let them help shape the change. be careful to tread on neutral ground and don’t just agree Quick.

and they are less reluctant to try something new when they know their ideas were considered and incorporated in the solution. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Ask them to seek your team’s input ahead of time on these kinds of issues. If company decision-makers are good at providing information on their priorities and their areas of concern. Your people. getting their input on how the change can be implemented to be as beneficial as possible with as little disruption as possible. are much more likely to embrace any change if they have had a chance to offer their ideas for addressing the problem. If you are fortunate. Tell them you understand their concerns. Keep reminding them of the potential good that may come from the change. Decide together on a timeline of actions you will take to meet the mandate you were given. Tell your managers that you’ve got experienced people (if you do) who are actually doing the work every day. When a problem arises they put the word out that they are taking a look at a certain issue and will welcome employee ideas. Get their ideas and be sure to pass these on to your decision makers. however. Your situation may look like the paragraph below. Sterrett 96 . you work in an organization that already knows the importance of keeping employees informed and of soliciting their ideas to solve challenging problems. and nobody cared enough to ask their opinion. They don’t know why it’s necessary. Ask for their suggestions about this. your employees will be less resistant to change than if the organization does not believe in sharing information and soliciting participation in decision-making. Tell them you understand what problem they are attempting to solve and the change might even be beneficial in some ways. If this is the case. don’t approach them in a complaining manner. Gradually get them thinking more positively. Remember that people mainly resist when they are blind-sided by a change they didn’t expect. you are fortunate. After a short time of allowing your people to adjust to the idea of the change. But do not criticize the company. You can eliminate much of their resistance by keeping them informed Quick. that is. Keep your employees closely informed of all progress on the issue and any decisions that have been made about a change. Your criticism and suggestions should be saved for your boss’ ears. Brag on your people. The more closely the potential change will affect them. the more crucial this is. 2) The second thing you should do when change orders come down to you is lobby with your own managers and other management levels you may have access to. They can offer good advice. bring the focus of the meeting back to your main purpose.with them. As a supervisor. Thank anyone who offers ideas. if possible. Be very careful that you approach this in a positive way that expresses your genuine concern to do your best for the organization. this is the perfect time to go to your employees and ask for their input.

Introduce more information and opportunities for their comments prior to your next change. herself. Many of their employees—and customers. Some of this time had been off the job. When Esther met again with her staff about two weeks later. Sterrett 97 . Between Esther and her two tellers. Esther thanked her group profusely. although some had reservations that certain customers might be reluctant to go to these extremes. and advise them how to involve the employees. so she was especially delighted when her staff showed her what they had found. she thought she knew what she needed to do. and Esther proudly announced this decision to her staff. they had found a total of three different sources from which this technology was available. Each had slightly different features and advantages and each was priced differently. She asked her group to mull this over and think about offering input to management for consideration in the enhanced security program. It took several months but the idea was approved. The managers knew that this would probably involve a number of major changes. develop a preliminary action plan. and after the training and a number of meetings with the other department managers. They were seeking ideas from all employees and from all departments. Esther had already met with her staff a few weeks ago. Esther was the head teller at the bank. as she had been encouraged to do. The top management group had selected one of the vendors Quick. too. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. to educate them on the problems the bank was having with fraud and how much money it was costing them. One idea clearly stood out from the others: fingerprint scanning identification capability. she learned that several of them had spent considerable time looking for security measures designed for teller stations. They were excited and proud to be contributing.and by seeking their input. had found some of the same security devices and strategies. She was beginning to feel good about the positive changes the bank was making and the ways in which the bank’s leaders were trying to involve all levels of employees. Their bank was an established one. The consultant had strongly urged the bank’s leaders to involve the employees in designing the changes. define their vision. and told them she would submit a formal recommendation to the bank vice-president who was coordinating the security enhancement project and would give credit to her whole department for the idea. They brought in a consultant who worked with them over the course of several months to assess their needs. ******** First National Bank wanted to cut down on bank fraud and increase security in all areas of the bank. too—had been with the bank for a long time. Everyone agreed that this would be a good idea. She ended that first meeting by telling them that the bank was open to ideas for how to reduce the problem. and putting the change into effect is guaranteed to go much more smoothly. Esther. He had trained all the managers in how to implement change in ways that minimized resistance.

even introducing it proudly to their customers. Quick. they offered information about the need and sought everyone’s input. inform your employees and seek their opinions. They used that input to enhance the bank’s security. 4) Compliment and reinforce efforts on behalf of the change. and the order would be placed immediately. When the new system was installed and was in use. The consultant had been right to urge them to involve the employees. Esther realized that she had encountered less resistance with this change than with any of the other major changes she had been involved in because the bank’s leaders had taken a different approach. As she thought back over the process of introducing this change. Esther resolved to remember this method in the future whenever she had a change to introduce—people accept change more readily when they have participated in creating it. with installation and training on its use expected in just over one month. 2) When change is desired but not ordered. Instead of simply announcing what they would be doing. Points to remember: 1) Announce a mandatory change as positively as possible and solicit employee ideas on exactly how to do it. Sterrett 98 . Esther observed that her tellers embraced it fairly readily. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.they had originally submitted. 3) Explain why change is necessary and what good may come out of it.

Try to ignore it and tell yourself it’s alright. admit it to your team and apologize for letting it go too far. this is a very good thing.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Give the group a lecture. and having fun together is a good way to do it. ~~~~~~~~~~ Before you do anything else. given employees the indication that it’s okay to goof off? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes. Just don’t let it become a lecture. thereby. It probably means that people are comfortable there.” then it’s time to do something. Tell them you have gotten some negative comments from “others” (don’t say who) about the amount of joking or goofing off that’s going on. then have a meeting to discuss it. and you are the best judge of whether that’s the case in your situation. Let people know that you like the relaxed atmosphere among the team and the fact that everyone works well with each other. they enjoy their jobs enough not to quit on you. there are certainly times when this situation may get out of hand. Sterrett 99 . Here are some things to look for that will indicate that the play and goofing off have gone too far: 1) Have you gotten complaints from some of your employees that they are not able to get their work done because of joking or noise? Or because certain people come around too frequently to visit with them? 2) Are some people or all of your people failing to meet performance standards because of the excessive socializing? 3) Are you getting negative comments from other departments or your own manager? 4) Have you participated quite a bit in the playing around and. If you have been a contributor to the problem. If the situation involves everyone or nearly everyone in the group. You’d be better off to do it like this instead. Be honest here. Whoever said that work had to be dull and grueling? People generally perform better when they are in a light-hearted mood. But don’t. and they probably trust each other enough to work together reasonably well as a team. Now that we’ve said that. “There’s too much goofing off around here. If you have only one or two offenders meet with them privately.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 24. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. ask yourself if your team or the offending employees are completing an acceptable quantity and quality of work. How disruptive is having some fun at work? If there is some laughter and socializing. Open the floor up for discussions on how you can all continue to have a relaxed atmosphere where people Quick.

You should be prepared to give a specific example. Ask for their help.like to come to work and still make sure you’re getting all the work done and not annoying other people. Make sure they are clear about the standards for quantity and quality of work.” Come to a mutual agreement of what they will do and what you can expect from them. You may also need to set a good example. the final step of which is termination. they will be much more likely to comply without resentment than if you had set them all down and told them what to do. address it. If you have a performance issue (See Challenge 18). Even if work quantity and work quality are not an issue. One of those may be that they need more challenging work. Once you get the team to agree to the new standards. Tell them you need their help. If your “goofing off” situation really only involves one or two people. be sure to comment positively on this. There could be a number of reasons for wasting time. Another reason may be that they don’t enjoy the work and rush through it or do the bare minimum. Try praising them during the times when they are busy and not fooling around. When they have suggested the solution. When they offer a few ideas. meet individually with the offenders and share your concerns. Most people are more willing to “help” than they are to “obey. tell them you’re counting on them to live up to their word. build a few of the good ones into an acceptable plan that everyone can basically agree to. ******** Quick. Thank them for helping you resolve this issue. Ask them what’s going on with that. If they do not do better. Try sharing a short joke or laugh but without letting it drag on into a long period of play. Listen closely to their explanation. When they are starting to do better. tell them that you just can’t let them socialize more than others do because this will create hard feelings. Make it clear that you are in the middle here—you’re trying to support good teamwork while at the same time you want to be sure other people aren’t looking at them with a critical eye. Let them think about this. Clearly define the expectations and hold them accountable for the quantity and quality of work you need. This is the new standard for acceptable behavior. avoid lecturing to your employee. see Challenge 6 on progressive discipline. Eventually someone will speak up with an idea. Sterrett 100 . Try pitching in and working with them at peak times. even if they sit in surprised silence for a minute. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Ask for specific suggestions for how to keep things friendly yet still stick to business. and other members of the team could end up resenting them and resenting you. Then proceed to say in a very confident (not forceful or angry) way that you’ve noticed they seem to have a lot of time to visit or they do a lot of goofing off or clowning around. Monitor their performance and don’t let things slide backwards. Begin by giving them some feedback on their work—starting with something that’s good. however. Even in this case. They may express some anger and some hurt.

” Gordon complained to Paul. He usually spent an hour or two a week helping to unload trucks or fill orders if there was a sizeable backlog. Gordon also observed that while the horseplay had not entirely stopped. maybe you’re right. He started making rounds a couple of times during the day. and not for the purpose of finding fault but just to ask his people how it was going and to see if they had any problems or ideas. I think the goofing off is just for the guys to let off pressure by taking it easy when they can. “but if you want my ideas. there’s a lot of pressure. He smiled and made a mental note to thank Paul again for his advice. of course. But I just think they’d respect you more if you showed ‘em you are willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. he smiled and ignored it. but handed him a hand truck. I guess I could try it. A delivery truck rolled up at a time when they were really busy already. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. too. He told the guys that when they were really getting behind to let him know. “You know when those trucks come in and we are all just as busy as we can be for a few hours or more. I’d be glad for some suggestions because whatever I’m doing is sure not working.” Gordon thought about it. Paul was the only one of his five employees who worked steadily and didn’t participate much in the fooling around. Sterrett 101 .” He had his chance the next week. Not every time. He even overheard one of them commenting to another how he seemed to have changed. there was a little less of it. Gordon was the warehouse supervisor at an auto parts distributorship. More work. He complimented them when he saw them really working. one of his workers. seemed to be getting done so the goofing off Quick. The guys looked surprised. I’ll give ‘em to you. “Sure. Paul was older than Gordon and had seen a lot in his working years. in general. “Gordon. the guys complain about you sitting up here in the office ‘doing nothing. Little by little. Gordon began to sense a new respect for him from his workers. and there’s no real harm. I don’t mean to be telling you what to do. When they got through the initial rush. so he said. a couple of them thanked him for his help. At Paul’s suggestion Gordon also began taking more interest in what was going on out on the warehouse floor. and he would try to come out and help if he possibly could.’ I told ‘em you’re doing you job—you’re the boss.” Gordon was feeling pretty discouraged. Gordon went back to the loading dock and offered to help. For the next hour and a half Gordon helped his warehouse crew unload the boxes of items and put them away.” “Why don’t you try pitching in and working with them?” asked Paul. “So you think something that simple could make the difference? Well. They usually get the work done. If he found them goofing off. tiring work.” he said. He was trying to look for the things people did well. but some days when we’re really backed up on orders for the drivers.“There’s too much fooling around going on here. It was dirty. but the guys seemed to appreciate his presence.

as Paul suggested. 4) Hold everyone accountable for standards of quantity and quality of work. Joke with them but don’t model extended “goofing off” sessions for them. have fun but keep it manageable. might be serving an important purpose. Sterrett 102 . Quick. 2) Help your employees out during peak times. Points to remember: 1) Be present with your employees. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.that still occurred was not too offensive and even. 3) Look for the things they are doing well and comment on these.

unless they are extremely upset. they should leave their personal problems at home and concentrate on work while they are at work. Sterrett 103 . financial. and once they are back “together. depending on how much time you can spare and how distraught the person is. thirty minutes should be sufficient for an employee to lay out the problem and for you to demonstrate compassion. First. and so you do not get sucked into their problems and get in over your head. Quick. Ideally. this often lets off the pressure just enough for them so they can concentrate more fully on the tasks at hand and pull their weight on the work that must be done. There are at least two reasons why you should allow employees to come to you with their personal problems: 1) When you allow them to “vent” their concerns. one heart-to-heart session is all they will need. keep the interactions as manageable as possible. Instead. This means they will go out of their way to perform for you when the chips are down. so it’s a good investment on your part as a supervisor. or general life problems seems like it should be out of the scope of your duties as a supervisor. Don’t handle it like this.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 25. Now someone knows their situation. however. ~~~~~~~~~~ Listening to an employee’s health. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and personal issues and worries frequently impact an employee’s ability to fully complete his or her work. though. several things you should remember in order to be an effective sounding board for employees.” you will have gained considerable loyalty and respect. Tell them what they should do to solve their problem so they will get back to work. For many people. try the ideas below. offer to reschedule a time later to get together. There are.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Make it clear that they shouldn’t bring their personal problems to you. 2) They will appreciate the fact that you cared enough to listen. It’s hard to buy this kind of loyalty and support. “I don’t know what to say when they tell me their personal problems. Use your judgment. and they have gotten it off their chest! Occasionally. family. allowing the amount of time you can and no more. For most issues. If you have commitments and you don’t have time to hear them out at one sitting. it doesn’t work that way. In real life.

who are normally good workers. in fact. and maybe they don’t get this from anyone in their circle. When someone confides their problems to you. but they will want to work to get things under control. or whatever is appropriate. and you recommend they seek help from the appropriate source. the following paragraphs will give you suggestions. Remember. They may want to talk to you again because you were nice to them and showed concern. you may want to hear them out one more time. You don’t need to say anything. Try not to evaluate or judge. be good therapy for many people with personal problems. and you will be further in the hole with them than when you started. that some people have chronic life problems. If this is not too disruptive for you. Just be quiet and let them talk. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Their lives are chaotic. minister. then you have a responsibility to break their confidence. that good listening does not necessarily mean you agree with them. too. When they have confided their problem to you. let them know you will be as understanding as possible. Sterrett 104 . there is one cardinal rule you must not break. In fact. and they go from one problem to the next. you cannot solve their problem. Do not allow them to keep coming back over and over again and rehashing their problem. with their assessment or their handling of the situation. You are not their counselor. financial advisor. you don’t need to talk. That is confidentiality. If you break this rule. You have probably observed. They may spend much of their day talking to anyone in the department who will listen about their terrible problems. The only “advice” you should give is to suggest people or groups who may be able to help them. If you do not have either of these. may go through a difficult time. Quick. Work can. Be sure you let your employee know that. Remember that when you listen it is not necessary for you to solve the problem or give them answers. They may require more patience and understanding than usual for a period of time. any of your employees. Otherwise. while you are concerned about their situation. all upset. either good or bad. You can simply be present with them. If you feel unsure of what to say or do when they are in your office. If they are talking suicide or homicide. You may be able to suggest this. Your department or team still has to get the work out. just give the person your attention and nod from time to time. In the first place. Good listening does not imply judgment. This person can be a challenging employee because they are often reluctant to take responsibility for their situation and make the needed changes. nor should you be. it’s not a good idea to tell them what to do. however. any possible gains in trust and improvement in the relationship with the employee will be lost.you will have an employee who wants to keep coming back. and you need them. for example your Human Resources Manager or your Employee Assistance Program. you may want to suggest a local alternative—a mental health counselor. You will have to be assertive and get them to take some positive steps to solve their own problems. you should simply listen. By the third time a red flag should go up in your mind. keep quiet! Occasionally. but they will generally bounce back in a reasonable time after the crisis passes.

obviously not himself. The following Monday. Firmly and kindly explain that they will need to take definite steps to get their life under control since it is affecting their productivity and. If they don’t perform. and she hated to see Doug so devastated. the last step of which is termination. non-profit organization in a large city. She also urged him to see a counselor. Doug walked into Beverly’s office one Monday morning. There are two divisions. the services manager. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. She felt somewhat uncomfortable. He said he and his wife had been seeing a marriage counselor but they were evidently not Quick. nip it in the bud. If they start to get emotional and remind you how bad their life is. had five case managers in her division. So things seemed to be going better for a few weeks. Doug dragged through the week. Refer them to the appropriate sources. They also provide limited monitoring services up to one year for residents they have placed. but they do need to hear it. Doug was clearly devastated and said he had no idea that the break-up was coming. Convey all this to the employee compassionately. Give them a little leeway if you can and if their problems are legitimate. set reasonable limits on how much listening time you can give them. therefore. Doug was back to his old self. and if they continue to be a drag on departmental performance. Doug walked into Beverly’s office and sat down dejectedly. services and development. that of the whole department.Because of that. one of her case managers. the agency director. see Challenge 6 which talks about progressive discipline. Doug. Then one day. they may get little work done. Sterrett 105 . Beverly listened to his story and tried to be supportive. remain calm and do not let yourself feel guilty or get drawn into their situation. She also encouraged him to talk to his co-workers so they would know and could be as supportive as possible and help him out with work when needed. See Challenge 18 which addresses poor job performance. he walked happily into Beverly’s office and said he had persuaded his wife to come back and try to work things out. If you see this kind of pattern developing. He said his wife had left him over the weekend and taken their infant son with her. ******** Housing Services Unlimited is a private. mainly because there was so little she could do. Whether you have the person with chronic problems or the one who has a temporary episode of problems. Ask them how they are doing with getting their work done. But let them know they need to continue to perform up to minimum standards. Beverly. Meet with the person and explain that you are concerned about how their problems may be affecting their job performance. Its mission is to locate housing for handicapped individuals who are considered ready to be out on their own. both of whose directors report to Stuart. She encouraged him to get involved with his work because it would help take his mind off his problems. had worked for the agency for three years and was good at his job. clearly upset and asked if he could talk to her.

emphasizing what she could do. Beverly was beginning to feel like she was in a soap opera. She wanted to be supportive. I just found out that Becky is seeing someone else. Rhonda advised her to tell Doug 15 minutes was the amount of time she could spend. and I’m sorry you’re having to go through all this. The next day. and she’d probably have to give him the speech about the 15 minute limit when he was a little calmer. but she had made a start. but she practiced with Rhonda what she could say to him. Now I’ve learned the truth. and private non-profits don’t generally have the budget for consultants and coaches. but she had work to do and so did Doug. She had staunchly denied that all along. Maybe limiting him would work after all. I’ve tried to be a listening ear for your problems because you are a good worker. Beverly wasn’t at all sure she could do it. Beverly felt proud of herself for being more of a manager and less of a social worker. He walked in quickly and closed the door. He went on and on with his depressing tale. Rhonda agreed to meet her for lunch and help her out if she could.” He seemed dazed but he walked out of her office.” Doug looked like he was going to cry and said. After about 20 minutes. She could phrase it positively.” Then she could let it stretch to 20 minutes or so. She stood up and said. She should advise him that he continue to see the counselor himself. and I just can’t believe it!” Beverly wasn’t sure he had heard her and realized she might have to take a little longer with him this time than she had planned. Doug. though. “Well. she had her chance to use her new script when Doug was waiting at her office as she got back from an appointment. However. so his wife had left him again. It was hard to be firm. He could only have one brief appointment each week with Beverly. but she needed to be firm with him. He was angry that she hadn’t given the counseling a fair chance. she did say.making progress. He was clearly agitated. I’ve got the Board meeting tonight. and Beverly couldn’t make herself say her script quite like she had rehearsed it. I want to be supportive. Quick. How much time could she devote to this problem? What could she do for Doug? Beverly decided to call up a friend of hers who did some business coaching and treat her to lunch. even if his wife was no longer going with him. She was looking for some advice. She felt like she was more in control. Beverly started winding things up with Doug. knowing Doug would be back again. “I know you are really in pain. “Doug. because he needed help to redefine his life. She’d just have to keep at it. Sterrett 106 . But it’s beginning to infringe on my own work time. When they met. but I’m going to have to spend a little less time on this so we can both get our work done. so I hope you understand that I have to get back to work now. and I know you are having a rough time. rather than speaking of it in terms of “limits. Rhonda told Beverly she was going to have to start setting limits for Doug. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and he felt like a victim. This was pretty bad news. he was angry that she had taken their son. She took a few deep breaths and did some supportive listening as Doug told her his story.

you don’t have to have the solution. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Gently remind them of their responsibilities and how work may be a form of therapy for them. Quick. 5) Set limits on the amount of time you spend listening to a particular employee so they do not get dependent on you. Help the employee find the kind of help they may need for their problem. Be as kind and as patient as you can. Sterrett 107 .Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Just listen to their problems.

When you begin to change your own attitude. So you may get tired of hearing it and begin to turn a deaf ear to everything they say. Lose your temper and give them a good lecture to quit complaining. it’s time to call a meeting with your employees. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. while you understand and even sympathize with some of their concerns. The following approach will work much better. and you may all simply have to accept them. there is nothing you or they can do about these things. But don’t do either of these things. If you do that. People usually mirror what they see around and above them. Remind them that. and there may be things you can do about a good portion of the complaints. The change will begin with you.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 26. it needs prompt attention before it gets out of hand and performance decreases noticeably. “My people are all complainers.” And you will run the risk of missing those occasional complaints that contain good ideas—things you really could make use of to improve your department.” If you are in a small or flat organization you may have some say-so in many issues. Are you contributing to the poor morale by doing a lot of complaining and griping yourself? A negative attitude spreads quickly in an organization. Some of the things they whine about are not things that you have any control over either. Write down their complaints on a whiteboard or flipchart and put every single complaint in one of two categories: “Things we can do nothing about” and “Things we have some control over. As the supervisor you will need to be sympathetic to their concerns without specifically agreeing with them and bad-mouthing the company yourself. Resolve to change your own attitude and be more positive. Sterrett 108 . these issues can be particularly unpopular. you will run the risk of being perceived as “just another bad boss. ~~~~~~~~~~ People who complain a lot may be experiencing general low morale and feel like they have too much pressure and no control. Let the group complain about their issues for a little while in order to know they were heard.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: • • Ignore all their complaints because you’ve heard it all before. When you notice most everyone is complaining about a lot of things. and you’ll all have to accept them and make the best of the situation. it’s time to look at yourself. Begin the meeting by saying that you are concerned about the team’s morale. There is nothing to be gained by continuing Quick. Then sit back and listen and let them vent their frustrations for a limited period of time. But larger organizations often set policies or make changes in procedure without asking anyone’s opinions.

The whole team can celebrate the positive things that are happening through the visible and daily reminders. Sterrett 109 . do you and they have control over. turn the group’s attention to the list of things they can control. and the food stamp director. six case managers. Even if you have a lot of stress or your boss is on your back. Keep your own attitude especially positive and helpful during this time. support. Any special event like this will help build positive bonds and contribute to a better attitude. but to come with solutions. “Good things” or “What we’re doing right” or some appropriate label. What things. and be generous with thanking people for everything they do. it’s essential that you refocus their attention on what’s going right. when someone comes to you with a complaint. specifically. All that comes out of extended complaining is that everybody feels worse. Remind them that you will listen to ideas. As their supervisor or manager you need to be especially mindful of how to praise. listen briefly and ask “What do you suggest we do?” This will train them not to come to you and whine. then put a few things on this list. She had held her position for seven years. People will be more positive and more cheerful. this not only benefits the department but it benefits you as well. but something that clearly went well in your department. make sure you are treating your people better than you are being treated or better than you feel. and within 2-3 weeks you will see a visible shift in the morale. Penny Holmes.to complain about these items. and the team should think of ways in which they can make the workday more pleasant at their own level. Take multiple pieces of newsprint or butcher paper and post this in a visible spot. It can be something small. They are now looking for good things rather than noticing only the bad. ******** The food stamps division of the local social services agency consisted of one secretary. and how can these things be improved? If nothing else. The morale change you will be able to initiate is very much worth it. Consider the simple solution of making a “What we’re doing right” board. despite the things they don’t like. Write in big letters at the top. and they can always bring you their suggestions. Since her department had lost two Quick. they have control over their attitude. Plan a team celebration or “appreciation day. At least once a day begin adding items or examples to your board of things that went well that day. All complaints must be brought in the form of ideas for how to correct the problem. Add to it faithfully. If there is little or nothing on that list. and cheer them if things have been particularly stressful. three intake specialists. When you can reduce the level of stress and negativity in your department. Penny had been sensing low morale and unrest for some months now. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Notice the positive things that are happening. Tape a marker nearby on a long string and add a recent “victory” or two yourself to get the list started. After a limited gripe time. Then.” like a Friday afternoon popcorn party or going out to dinner together after work. Invite others to participate. When everyone starts noticing only the bad things.

I’ve been hearing everything bad that’s been going on in this department. After everyone had given an answer. and they were instructed to get together once a week for at least 30 minutes. Penny. Penny got her team together for a meeting and laid out her concerns. Everything looks bleak. Finally Penny tried again. and she was concerned that the low morale was showing to clients. Finally she stood up and moved over to the whiteboard. They continued to list things that would help them remain more positively focused. when we keep voicing complaints. She finally decided something must be done. what can we do to keep our spirits up around here? I want to have some ideas that we can implement. not where she or they would like it to be. did not like working in the department with its current mood. Everyone’s energy was focused on the negative. Do it. They were to bring their hardest case or biggest challenge they had encountered that week and let their partner help them consider solutions. Penny listened patiently for about twenty minutes. “Yes. They would take turns bringing them in.” Penny said. marker in hand. I want solutions. everybody. but she had set a personal deadline of improving morale in that period Quick.” She stood. It was certainly getting her down. That’s it!” and started her list. or on what we can fix and make right. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. herself an easy-going person. From this point forward. Penny asked them to wad up their paper and she took a trashcan around and let every person present throw their lists of “what’s wrong” in the trashcan. Right now. But when we keep focusing on all the bad. “What are we doing right? I know there are a few things. we all pretty much like each other and that’s a blessing. One important idea that emerged from their meeting was a “buddy program. “I want us to focus more of our energy on what’s right. patiently at the whiteboard.” Penny declared.employees in a recent reorganization. “Given that much of what we dislike. I want every one of you to take a piece of paper and write down your top two or three concerns. Penny did some quick math and figured that the average morale level was 5.” So they created another list. Sterrett 110 . Gradually others chimed in with a few things that were good. which began with having bagels for breakfast every Friday morning. She did not tell them. So then Penny asked them another question. we cannot control. She recorded their answers as they told her their number. Her staff was quiet. I agree that some things are not ideal. each staff person was assigned a partner. So now I want your ideas on how to deal with problems. Penny continued to monitor her team’s progress over the next three months. this minute. “Well. not more restatement of problems. “We have now symbolically gotten rid of some of the bad. all we do is get ourselves deeper into a black hole. She had an idea and asked everyone to rate their morale level on a one-to-ten scale. and we feel hopeless.” In this program. morale had steadily gone downhill and complaints had gone up.” When they completed their lists. “Okay. My intention is to get us out of this rut.” Maria said. and we would change them if we could. Immediately everyone started voicing all the terrible things that had been going on recently.2 out of 10.

of time. 3) Regularly recognize and celebrate your collective accomplishments. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Let’s have your comments on how you think things are going. Employees were happier. Each month she found something to celebrate—someone’s birthday. When she collected these and tabulated them. and there continues to be more we can do. Points to remember: 1) Make your own attitude positive by looking for small successes.” or a departmental victory.” Because of Penny’s patience and her perseverance in holding her staff to a higher standard the department morale continued to improve. 2) Prompt the group to look for positives. and Penny felt that the clients were getting better service when people were more satisfied. Penny passed out a half-sheet of paper to everyone at a meeting on which people could rate their morale level. little by little.6. At the end of three months. Several people had told her they thought things were improving. stop allowing them to focus only on the negative. She announced to everyone. “It looks like we are moving in the right direction. just as they had done before verbally. a “national holiday. Sterrett 111 . They had more positive interaction time. Quick. It seemed to her like things were slowly improving. She resolved to do a client satisfaction survey to gather data on how her staff were doing and gather ideas for improvement. Penny found that the average had gone up to 6. Staff meetings started to go a little better. This would be her next project.

they really did not understand. Even if you can’t spell their names the right way. But don’t. When we have the added difficulty of different languages. Keep your instructions as simple as possible. Many foreign workers want to impress you. Seek out information on the internet. read a book. You can make it more manageable by accepting the fact that you will have to make an effort to meet your employees where they are. They will have more respect for you. That way you can learn to call them by name. Be present with these employees just like you would with any others: don’t look over their shoulders every minute. Check back in with them shortly after any new instruction to be sure they have gotten started correctly and are doing what you expected. ~~~~~~~~~~ Communicating well is usually a challenge for most of us. and they may say they understand what you have said to save face when. Quick. If not.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Assume this is impossible and try to avoid your workers as much as possible. you must make an effort to learn more about their country or culture. Sterrett 112 . You can do much better than this. This is an important first step in supervision.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 27. even if you occasionally mix them up or pronounce their names poorly. but don’t neglect them either. Here’s what you should try. Learn to know all their names. “I’m supervising people who can’t speak English. Showing interest in them and kindness to them are two things that play well. supervision can be especially hard. in fact. Work entirely through a translator. clarify. “Thank you. A smile and a handshake or a bow are recognized signs of friendliness and respect in virtually all cultures. than if you simply don’t try and essentially treat them all impersonally. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Everyone understands the English words.” In addition. or ask your translator questions. You will need to work through a translator but translators have varying degrees of competency in either language. If possible. Be sure to give them a frequent smile or nod or “thank you” or “good work” whenever you catch them doing something good. even when we speak the same language. Make a diagram of their work area for yourself and put each name in the diagram in their work station. Use those universal gestures frequently. regardless of where they came from or what language they speak. show them or have another skilled employee demonstrate. write them down the way you would pronounce them. or according to some identifying feature if they move around.

Write these out for yourself phonetically. and your foreign workers may very well become some of your best. He spent more time Quick. make sure they know how proud you are and how much you appreciate it. You must also learn a few key phrases in their language. Most communities offer free classes. speak with them privately to correct them. If not. he would be responsible for between eight and 35 workers. You can also teach them a few words of English that will be helpful to them or will get your attention when they need it: o o o Excuse me. Don’t worry too much about the exact pronunciation. When they have broken a rule. See you tomorrow. for their own ease in living in the U. or projects. Encourage employees to take advantage of these. He had farmed the neighboring farm himself for twelve years before a large conglomerate had bought him out. Sterrett 113 . as you would say them. Treat your non-English-speaking employees the way you should be treating everyone else who works for you. If your company is big enough and has enough foreign employees. If you follow this advice you will develop a mutual respect. The potential gains are definitely worth enough for you to make the extra effort. using a translator who can be trusted to keep it confidential. both of whom spoke more Spanish than he did. their holidays. just make an effort to get close.Take an interest in learning their traditions. You will also want to learn their word for some of your important equipment. and their values. Jim knew two other supervisors. Depending on the time of the year. He observed their styles and realized that the one who got better results was simply more approachable. you can ask your manager whether the company will pay for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. You’re doing a good job. Learn words and phrases in their language like: o o o o o How are you today? (And learn what their usual response means. One of them got good results from his people. ******** Jim knew only a few words of Spanish but he knew citrus farming very well. Can you help me? I don’t understand. When they have done well.S. Perhaps there is a way to also help them learn additional English. He went to work for another large grower as field supervisor.) Thank you and please. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and use them with your employees. processes. I need your help. find out where in your community non-English speakers can receive English instruction.

Jim. this was confirmed. He apologized for his limited Spanish and for not pronouncing their names very well. was pleased and asked him for his secret. so he could write their names down and learn who they were.talking to his people. Jim was as busy as he could be.” Points to remember: 1) Learn the names of your foreign workers. had outperformed all but one of the other five supervisors. He would try to memorize these phrases. He took his interpreter along with him when he could spare him. As the weeks went on. the manager. So with the busy season just ahead. and otherwise he went by himself. Jim thought he was getting good results from the workers. and show respect. Jim wrote them down. I went out in the fields with them once a day. don’t rely entirely on a translator. even when he had to use an interpreter. Jim began to realize there was probably more to being successful with his workers than just the language. His boss. When the results were in. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Jim had a year-round worker who he usually used as an interpreter. He tried to remember his workers. 3) Learn about their culture and traditions. So I think it was just because I showed some interest in them. spelling them the way they sounded to him. but it really seemed like the results were worth it. Jim then learned to know the names of each one. he thought he knew what to do. call them by name. the newest supervisor. For that first picking season. but they seemed to be impressed that he was trying. He tried to get to know them. “I think it’s because I tried to learn a little of their language and I learned their names. 4) Teach them a few key phrases and words in English that are relevant to their jobs. Sterrett 114 . so he kept it up through the entire season. but he kept his little notebook handy. He still made time each day to get out in the fields and check in with each person. 5) Praise them for their work. Quick. As new workers were brought on board. 2) Learn a few key words and phrases in their language. He went to the man and asked him to teach him a few more phrases in Spanish. He also asked the man if he would be willing to take him around and introduce him to each person who worked for him by name. but he wanted to be seen as available. His communication was limited at these times. It was hard to find the time to take an interest in his workers. especially since he had almost not hired him because of his limited Spanish.

consider this instead. With some people you may have to try different approaches. especially when a change is imminent. That means you should: Make great use of their adaptability.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 28. they are generally more flexible. So before you write off a whole generation. Younger workers are also generally quite independent. It used to be that nearly all workers had a feeling of long-term commitment and interest in the company and the job. have they? Younger workers bring many talents and advantages. They can take care of themselves. Every group and every individual can be motivated. That means you should: Acknowledge the talents they have and readily delegate tasks and projects to them to show you have confidence in them. Workers under the age of 35 have been shaped by a very different set of world and societal events than previous generations. learn to harness the advantages of younger workers while minimizing the differences between them and yourself. ~~~~~~~~~~ Do you think your father or grandfather may have said the same thing about you when you were young? Now it’s your turn to be the one who complains about the “young people of today. many of them were latch-key kids. That’s a societal shift that affects their values. Write it down! See if you can incorporate that talent into a job assignment. It will probably help reduce your frustration with your younger workers if you have a little better understanding of the things that have shaped their work-related values.” But the younger workers saw this contract Quick. Sterrett 115 . they have had to be because of the pace of the changes they have lived through. and many are from single-parent households. as a whole. Sit down and think about one specific talent each of your young workers has.” Some things haven’t changed that much. You need to think about your own attitude and be more open. For one thing.” Try indirectly to get rid of young workers who don’t live up to your notions of a good employee. “I’ve got too many young kids working for me. They are.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Write off Generation X or Y as “no good. The matching commitment made by the organization was “we will keep taking care of you as long as you keep working here. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. much less committed to the “unspoken contract” that used to exist between employer and employee. As children.

They have little fear of technology and are often quite savvy with computers. This means you should: Acknowledge and show them you appreciate this skill and make them. Even the organization’s ethics may be questionable. Sometimes the work was at night. formally or informally. It’s true that we usually get what we expect to get in life. Don’t hesitate to train them. That means we get what we expect out of people. especially. But most of his workers were 18-30 years old. He had several workers who were over 30 and liked the flexibility of the job. They saw grown-ups around them getting downsized in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. do not tolerate being taken for granted. if they have the skill and interest in this. sometimes during the day. There is definitely a need and an important reason to say “thank you” frequently to your employees. Do it.eroded completely. Allow them to use the things they have learned—maybe by teaching others at your workplace. and be sure to look for good qualities. If you want their respect and loyalty. so be generous in thanking your workers for their work. mobile phones. Be open to their suggestions. they will not put up with being treated poorly. They have no feeling of trust in the organization. If you’re worried they will just move on after you have trained and helped them. you need to rethink this. That means you should: Allow them opportunities to continue to learn and grow. He just couldn’t get these kids motivated. They saw this again after 2001. In general. They are more likely to be committed when you give them opportunities. you will always have a hard time attracting and retaining workers in your department or company. Remember that people of any age respond to being appreciated. too. He would take his crew of five to twenty-five employees into the store at the customer’s preferred time. Offer them explanations rather than orders. telephones. Young workers are especially concerned about relationships on the job. and why would they?! In their experiences organizations have been anything but stable and have often been unfair in their treatment of workers. printers. If you think there’s no need to thank anyone for doing what they should be doing anyway. Younger workers stay with you when they are given reason to want to stay. These younger workers are loyal and committed to the extent they are getting something in return over and above the salary. Watch your own attitude and behavior toward this group. rather than just finding fault. VCR’s and DVD’s.” then they will be. Lynn thought that was his problem. Sterrett 116 . so they could complete inventory in one visit. They will respond and reward you with hard work. He considered these his star employees. Younger workers. If you assume “young workers are impossible. ******** Lynn was the supervisor for a company that performed inventories for many large retail stores. Quick. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Their pride in “owning” this responsibility will be a powerful motivator. you have to earn it by showing them respect and appreciation first. in charge of or “technical consultant” for some aspect of your technology.

she knew he was responsible for more turnover than was necessary. Now Shirley was going to have to supervise the crew herself until she could replace Lynn. He would “try” to be a little nicer. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.” Lynn thought about it for a minute. and Shirley did not like Lynn’s attitude. She had talked to him before about the way he treated his younger workers. This time she laid it on the line with him.” Lynn said. Shirley gave him the news. “I asked both the people who left these last few weeks how they had gotten along with you. but even he thought it came across as fake. It did little good. Find something about each one of them that you like. When Shirley called him into her office the next time. “Maybe I’ll go back to construction. Shirley. She did most of the exit interviewing. If this attitude doesn’t turn around. and he lost two more people off his crew. But it’s the way you treat them. offer challenges. Sterrett 117 . Turnover in their business was high anyway. I’m letting you go. and they say you are impossible to work with. 2) Capitalize on the strengths they have.” he said. Maybe Suzanne would do a better job supervising the younger workers. and training. and lately there had been a rash of resignations. He thought Shirley was entirely too lenient. who had been with the company for about a year and seemed to get along well with most people on the jobs Shirley had been on. His job was on the line.” Lynn was not at all happy. 4) They will be as loyal to you as you are to them. Shirley really hoped so. and that was the end of Lynn’s career in inventory supervision. She had her eye on Suzanne. “I know that some of those people probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway. She decided it was time to talk to Lynn for the last time. he just didn’t like the young kids. Shirley wished him good luck. Lynn. I think you will be a good worker in the right spot. 3) Give them reasons why things are being done. respect. but the boss had spoken. Sure enough. “We keep losing people. This is just not working. It was hard to pretend. not just orders. Points to remember: 1) Work on your own attitude first. Lynn. I’m going to have to let you go. he knew what was coming. understand why young workers may be different from you. The truth was. Speak to them and show some interest in each one. Quick. You treat them like they are beneath you. Nothing really changed significantly. The next day Lynn “tried” being nicer to his younger workers. but with Lynn’s attitude toward many in the crew. You’re just costing us too much in turnover. but this is not the job for you.Lynn did not like his boss. although he did make a few stabs over the next couple of weeks. They both said you treated them like they weren’t human. Shirley had coached Lynn before on being more patient and respectful to everyone on the job.

to the point that no one says a word except when they must. You are being too repressive and probably intimidating many of them. Ask yourself whether you may be running a very tight department when you are present. but not a very good one! People will do only what they absolutely must for a supervisor they fear. they stop working. but some socializing is exactly what you want. If so. ~~~~~~~~ Are you completely sure that when you are out of sight nothing is truly getting done? They may socialize more than if you are present. This is no way to get good steady performance out of your employees. It means the group is more of a team. “Every time I turn my back. now that the pressure is off a little. The only reason they do not socialize when you are present is that they are afraid of you and afraid of being criticized. Quick. There are much better ways to get your employees motivated so that they will continue to work whether you are present or not. You will be more effective if you relax your control a little. The best way to set a new positive tone for your team or department is to meet with your people individually or as a group and be honest with them about trying to change. Try this instead. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Decide they can’t be trusted and watch them like a hawk. because people have to know and trust each other. Sterrett 118 . But don’t ever have a meeting like this and say you are going to change. this might be like when you were in fifth grade. Lose your temper and tell them in no uncertain terms exactly what you expect. Looking over people’s shoulders all the time and being critical or judgmental is micromanaging. and respect is a two-way street. That means you are being too controlling. they really break free. and you had a stern teacher. If so. like your stern teacher was with you. and help each other with the workload. When people get the idea that you do not trust them or respect their ability enough to believe they can do the job without your constant input. But don’t. You need to back off a little bit. Fear is a motivator for work. share information. this is a danger signal that there is too little relationship-building going on. Be honest here: how quiet and task-focused is your department when you’re around? If they never talk about anything other than work. When that supervisor isn’t present. It probably means they work together satisfactorily. There has to be at least a little socializing for team work to be effective. they are providing good customer service to each other.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 29. People work hard for a boss they respect. they lose respect for you.

not less. Now they want to complete the work for you because you’re really trying. join them for a minute or two in whatever they are discussing. you need to smile and go on about your own work.and then not follow through on what you said! People will see through this immediately. then they will truly begin to work harder. Keep up your new habits. Once you have initiated changes. it may become a performance issue. seek out somebody at work or elsewhere who is a good manager—one that you admire—and ask them for their opinion. then you have to lighten up a little when you are there. If you need more convincing about your approach. Take a deep breath in your meeting. They will be more motivated. When Evelyn took over this job nearly a year ago. Instead of reprimanding them when you see them gathered or giving them an evil look. Get them to tell you what they do to get a good balance between keeping people working and letting them socialize and bond as a team. Guaranteed. and you will be much worse off than if you had not said you wanted to change. Better yet. She had been Quick. See Challenge 6 on discipline. Yes. and you’ve turned out to be a pretty good boss after all. It may take a couple of months for things to really turn around but keep it up. You realize that you may have been a little too strict at times or been too closed-mouth or lost your temper—or whatever the situation is. In addition. Sterrett 119 . things were not quite so bad. This will probably take less than two minutes of your time. If people know that a little socializing is allowed they appreciate it. see Challenges 20 and 22 on getting your team to work harder with positive motivators and Challenge 24 on horseplay. the same amount of work will take place whether you are present or not. their behavior will change too. It is your responsibility to do so. It’s important to establish a balance between getting work done and promoting good relationships. Tell them you’ll need their help. Show some interest. If they do abuse it and truly goof off more than they work. Harsh controls are not only unnecessary. When you get to this point. Tell them you’d like to try to develop better working relationships so that people feel more comfortable at work. No matter how much of a tyrant or how cool and reserved you have been. ******** The housekeeping supervisor at a large hotel was extremely frustrated. If you can begin to set a pleasant climate in the workplace. If you want them to work harder when you’re not there. they are actually counterproductive in today’s organization. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. and tell them that you’ve been learning some things about being a better supervisor. and the majority of them do not abuse it. and don’t let yourself slip back into your old behavior. Change yourself first. your team will rally around and support you if you honestly open up with them and take some of the pressure off yourself and them. you really must do this! Nothing will change about their work behavior until you change first. They will work because they want to.

” Evelyn was surprised by this but with Linda listening carefully and occasionally prompting her. She admitted to them that she was learning more about how to better manage the department and assured them she would be open to their ideas. and one of the things she had learned was that trusting employees. they don’t get anything done. “I have to stand over them all the time. I would really like for you to spend thirty minutes or so each day studying some of this stuff. and how the harder she tried. but the new job had not gone well. Evelyn told the whole story… how she had lost a couple of her best workers when she began in her position. “Not that good. She had asked Evelyn to come to her office this afternoon for a meeting. “Let’s meet next week at this time. She said brightly that she would try it. and Linda greeted her pleasantly. “I think you are making some of the same mistakes I did. Sterrett 120 . Quick. and Linda encouraged her. Evelyn knocked on Linda Keller’s door. This was a change! Her employees began talking among themselves. about her. She knew her review was coming up. She had been fortunate to be working at a larger company that offered good training.” Linda told Evelyn about how she had had a similar problem when she started out in supervision a few years back. Evelyn prepared herself for a lecture. She consulted with Linda before she actually did this. Linda had tried it herself and was pleased when she discovered that she really did get more out of her employees that way. one thing that Evelyn learned is that it’s a good idea to establish an individual connection with each of her employees. the worse things seemed to get. and we’ll talk about everything. rather than standing over them. we don’t have much training around here for new supervisors. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. the hotel services manager. because if I don’t. I know you got that complaint about me. “Okay. What do you think?” Evelyn was relieved that she did not get a reprimand or a lecture. wondering if the changes in Evelyn were real and lasting or if she was just faking it. She had completed basic management training.” Linda stopped her by saying. “I’m not interested in that right now. At the appointed time. but Linda surprised her by asking her for her assessment of how things in her department were going. So one-by-one she began having private meetings with each of her employees. and I think I know who it came from. We can get together about once a week to talk about what you are learning and how you can try out these ideas. Evelyn told her.” Among other things. She knew someone had complained to her new boss. and Evelyn was worried.” said Linda. and the new boss would probably be certain to judge her badly.” said Linda. “Unfortunately. how she had tried to run a tight department. There were morale issues and turnover had increased.pleased to finally get a promotion after five years of service. She asked for their ideas on how to improve the department. was a better way to get the work done. I want to hear from you. So I’m going to let you borrow some of my material.

Meet with them individually or as a team and ask for their help to do better. She felt more in control and was proud of what she had learned and what her department was accomplishing. Your employees probably don’t fully trust yet that you are really trying to change your methods. and Evelyn began to enjoy her job more. Look for things that they do well and show appreciation. One-on-one. Yesterday. Quick. Sterrett 121 . “You have to plant the seeds and water them.When Evelyn had her second session with Linda two weeks later. Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Give them respect by not micromanaging and being constantly present. but she tried to compliment or speak to everyone instead of inspecting their work like she used to do. Call me about this any time you are feeling stuck. because things really hadn’t changed much yet. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. But keep learning this material. though. She was feeling discouraged. They think the old Evelyn could pop up at any time to scare them into looking busy. Evelyn’s department gradually began to turn around. Linda stopped getting complaints. Linda cautioned her that these kinds of changes take time to have an effect and urged her not to revert to her old ways. Turnover went down and productivity went up somewhat. I know you can do it. okay? It’s important not to backslide or you will destroy the goodwill you have started to build.” Evelyn did resume making rounds once a day again. Trust them to do the work and don’t be so critical. and keep up the good changes you are making. at different times. she reported what she had done by meeting with each employee individually. her employees acted like they were on board and supportive. With Linda’s coaching. she had been very tempted to go back to her old ways of making the rounds to check up on them.

Is the boss getting pressure from his or her own manager to produce or perform? Is the boss possibly having personal problems. “I’ve got problems with the boss. There are many reasons why someone may be difficult to work with. Decide in your mind that you will learn to get along better with the boss. is feeling inadequate and uncertain in many of the challenges he/she faces but would never want anyone to know that? Is the boss just a very reserved person and hard to get to know or moody and unpredictable? Maybe the boss’ personality or style is very different from your own. before you lose your cool. It helps your understanding and your level of patience to develop some theory about the boss’ behavior. Avoid the boss. you don’t want to make it look like you are being manipulative. you will need to admit to yourself that something you are doing is not working. The boss may think things are going just fine and may be completely unaware that you don’t like him or her. Whenever you feel yourself getting upset about your boss. because those emotions will get in your way. ~~~~~~~~~~ First. Set aside your anger. like a health or a family issue that is causing considerable stress? Could it be that he/she. That’s right—even if the boss is. You are the one with the problem.” Even if it makes you cringe to think about it. Lose your temper and tell the boss what you really think.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o o Quit your job. your frustration. your intimidation. Look for opportunities to be helpful. adopt an attitude of curiosity: What makes the boss act this way? Can some little changes that you adopt make a difference in the boss? Start being very observant and even asking questions. and all human beings will eventually respond to kindness and someone showing an interest in them. Try the following ideas first. unkind. much like you. Instead of anger or stress. no matter what the reason is. Go out of your way to speak to the boss and to offer a kind word. there is simply no other way. Be kind anyway! Bosses are human too.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 30. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. you must make yourself communicate with him or her. However. and I will have to change. Don’t overdo it here. “I admit I’m part of the problem with the boss. take a deep breath. and tell yourself that you are now in control. But be Quick. in your mind. But don’t. Go ahead and do it right now: say it to yourself. And if you have the problem. and commit yourself to this new challenge. you also have the solution. Sterrett 122 .

You can’t change someone else’s attitude directly but you unquestionably can change your own attitude and your own behavior. if you can get along better on your current job. Find out what the boss’ priorities are and do anything you can to help him or her meet those goals and priorities. and that is probably wise. you will have an indirect but important impact on the boss’ behavior. If she does. Most bosses are somewhat reserved in how much they will admit to their subordinates. be patient. He’s impossible to get along with. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Why should I help him?” There is a very good reason why you need to take this advice seriously: because it will make your own life much easier if you do! Make yourself have more positive thoughts. and you would want the same patience and support if you were the one having problems. By showing some interest and some compassion. Invite your boss to a meeting you are having with your team and invite the boss to speak on a particular issue. If there has been an obvious change in behavior. You can find something to like or appreciate about anyone. the boss is very likely to start being easier for you to work with. By controlling yourself. I hear your mental protest here: “You keep telling me to help him! No way! You don’t know the awful things he’s done. If so. When you have the opportunity to speak to the boss privately. then things will never get any better for you. ask how he or she is doing. so he/she will want to be just a little nicer to you. so concentrate on whatever good qualities the boss has. tell the boss in a caring way. very slightly at first. If you remain angry.” Then listen carefully to see if the boss will be honest with you. until you find another position. All of us go through bad periods. Especially emphasize recent accomplishments that you know are important to the boss. When you relate to the boss in a different way. Quick. your work life will be improved and stress reduced. The boss thinks you seem a little nicer. Continue to remind yourself of what the boss does well. Even if you have decided that you want to look for another job. Offer your team’s assistance or support in the boss’ projects. he or she will begin to change too. it could be helpful to know what’s going on. Sterrett 123 . There must be something that led him or her into the present management job. it will make your life easier in the meantime. too. The boss may give you some general hints about what is troubling her. It’s probably unlikely the boss will tell you about personal problems but he or she may share enough general information that will shed light on the current negative behavior. remain supportive and open to the ways in which you can help her. Allow yourself and your team to become more visible to the boss.consistently nice. and I’m overworked anyway. or fearful of the boss’ behavior. resentful. Going out of your way is in your own longterm best interest. If their behavior is affecting you and your team. “I’ve noticed that you really seem to be under a lot of stress in the last few weeks.

Go to the meeting with a positive and helpful attitude. this is another instance where you should take that as your cue to try a different approach. that you have a genuine concern about a work process and an idea of how you’d like to change it to make things easier. But the boss dismisses your concerns or never seems to have time to hear your ideas. When you present solutions rather than complaints.If other people around you start to become suspicious of your changed attitude of supporting the boss or at least refusing to complain about her. If your boss should question your motives or your change of attitude.) Write all this down concisely and write your recommendation as to what should be done. Gather at least two or three specific instances or examples of what the problem is and how it is negatively affecting others in the organization (too slow. This time it’s different.” You can still support your team. If possible give an estimate of how much it would cost and how long it might take to make the change. Be careful to select a time that is truly convenient for your boss. Explain how your recommendation would solve the problem. Approach this meeting confidently with your information fully prepared. does not serve the customer. Take a different approach. Be sure you emphasize how this idea of yours will solve some problem for the boss or tie it to something that you know is quite important to the boss. and write it down. Be a model for helping your team appreciate the manager. “Well.” If the boss never seems to want to listen. for example. just say. Maybe your approach has not been professional enough before to impress the boss. Sterrett 124 . The way you approach an issue and your timing are two things you can improve. tell them about your “kill her with kindness” approach. but you are just trying to make yours and everyone’s life easier. when I can keep you happy it makes my life easier too. The key is to be assertive in a positive and respectful way. and just do it! ******** Quick. faster. and not an attitude of criticism. an unnecessary step. It’s up to you. Let’s say. Write down the negative things that are occurring with the current process. One of the fastest ways you can get your boss to shut down is by being critical of the organization or of the boss’ management. costs too much. etc. as well as who would be responsible and other pertinent information. It’s a project you will succeed in. Clearly identify the problem. You have quite a bit of control in making the relationship with the boss more tolerable. Give her your written summary and offer to take the next action step towards your solution. or more effective. you will often get what you need. And it doesn’t have to be like you are now taking sides against the others and are on your boss’ “side. Make an appointment with your boss and let him/her know how much time you will need when you schedule the appointment. too. Take a deep breath. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. cheaper. Begin your conversation by openly stating that you want to do the best job possible and that you want the boss to look good in the eyes of his/her superiors.

and greeted him cheerfully. once when he lectured the grill cook publicly and once when she overheard him yelling at a waitress and had the girl in tears. Carlton seemed to loosen up a little. Sure enough. This was all the proof she needed that her tactics were working. especially when you lose your temper. determined to make working with Carlton more bearable for herself and others. more like a family. you know. Before he could seek her out with a complaint. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Then Jennifer herself had been the victim of his rage yesterday when he lost his temper with her over her scheduling coverage while she had one person on vacation and two others sick.” Carlton seemed amused and asked her whether he had really been that difficult. One day he actually mentioned something about some of the pressure he had been under from the regional director. “You’ve been pretty bad.Jennifer was a shift supervisor at a national restaurant chain. his boss. he had started to become explosive. Lately. “You know what you’re supposed to do. At least Carlton was careful not to lose his temper in front of customers. A few of them agreed to try it. Carlton. was the restaurant manager. “Bosses really are partly under our control. She thought about it overnight. Finally one day Carlton asked her why she seemed to be acting extra nice to him. Carlton.” She hesitated and then smiled so her response might be met with humor. She loved meeting the public and felt close to those she supervised. Jennifer witnessed Carlton’s temper twice last week. she went to work with a new resolve. “I really want things to be more of a team around here. Things were already a little better. Sterrett 125 . Jennifer continued to go out of her way to be nice to Carlton for the remainder of that day and that week. She smiled to herself as she realized. She began to see that Carlton treated her and her employees who were trying her methods more favorably than he treated the others. Next day. she really enjoyed her work and was nearly always in a good mood. Then she decided she would use a system that an older friend had taught her once before on a previous job with a difficult boss. She said she just wanted to find out what he needed specifically from her today. Things had seemed to be deteriorating and she just didn’t like to work in a place where she could not get along with the boss. Her boss. At first Jennifer was angry herself at the way Carlton had acted. She would have to try harder to persuade the others who hadn’t gotten on board with being extra nice to Carlton. When Carlton grumbled.” said Jennifer. It took time and patience on Jennifer’s part. “I want to like you. Carlton said no and dismissed her. Jennifer told him she wanted to get along better with him. She always went and greeted him first thing when she arrived and asked what she could do for him. Carlton had always been aloof and business-like. “Yes. Why are you asking me?” Jennifer replied very cheerfully that because he had been upset with her yesterday she just wanted to make sure whether he had any special instructions for the scheduling she was going to work on today or if there was anything else she could do to help him do his job better. Jennifer went and found Carlton. Jennifer’s own style was in marked contrast to this. Jennifer started coaching the staff on her shift to be extra nice to Carlton.” said Jennifer.” Quick.

go to the boss with solutions. Quick. 3) Find out the boss’ most important priorities and work to assist with those. Sterrett 126 . 2) Go out of your way to be nice and to be understanding of the boss.Points to remember: 1) Change your own attitude and realize that you have some control over the situation. not complaints. try to make the boss look good. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. 4) Be careful and organized about your approach with any issue or suggestion.

tolerate. ~~~~~~~~~~ As a leader you positively must adhere to the rule of “no gossiping or spreading hearsay. “How do I handle all the gossiping and rumors?” ____________________________________________________________________ You might be tempted to: o o Listen to and pass on those juicy secrets yourself because you love that kind of thing or because you want your employees to think of you as part of the gang. you are not part of “the gang” anymore.” If you can’t do this. and you have been seeing some positive signs that people are working Quick. When you listen to. and speculation. simply wave them away and tell them you do not want to hear it. and they never repeat any information told to them in confidence. or pass on this kind of information you are hurting those around you and diminishing your own level of professionalism and the respect others have for you. have a team meeting and discuss the problem collectively with your group. Next time someone comes to you with this sort of thing. Your modeling of good behavior is another reason why you must never participate. it always comes back to haunt you. the level of gossip will diminish. Your very best ammunition as a supervisor is to build people up with praise and appreciation for their good qualities. If you still find that there is too much of this going on. Sterrett 127 . There are certain things you must set aside when you accept a leadership role. it comes with the territory. half-truths. Tell them you’ve been trying to encourage more teamwork. If you are unwilling to listen or give any credibility to the gossip you hear. Good leaders do not repeat misinformation. Period. chances are it will become less of an issue in your team. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. If you have been accustomed to being part of the gossip circle. you simply are not ready for a leadership position. By virtue of being a supervisor now. resolve to change that immediately. When you gossip you are tearing people down. Give them a severe lecture about gossiping and come down hard on violators. Without naming names. Try this instead.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 31. begin the discussion by saying that you are concerned about something and you need their help. Even if the gossiping is with a peer or a very good friend. But don’t. and no divulging confidential information. If you are not part of the gossip and rumor mill and regularly suggest to other people that they should also not pass on this information. So stop participating right now. Gossip and rumor is usually very hurtful to the victim of the gossip and rarely bears much resemblance to the truth. People look to you as an example of the way they should conduct themselves.

together better. But you are concerned about the amount of gossip that is occurring because it hurts individuals and hurts teamwork. Pose this question to the whole group: “ What ideas do you have for how we can work together to develop better teamwork habits and reduce hurtful information?” Asking them for their ideas on how to solve this kind of a problem may sound like it is exactly the wrong approach. On the surface you may think this makes it seem like you are not in control. The truth is, however, that if you come to them and tell them what is going to be done, like you are giving them a lecture, they are unlikely to pay much attention. They may be careful the first few days, but resentment will build, and they will revert to their old habits. They will just be more careful that they don’t let you hear them when they gossip. Teams solve problems better than any one person working alone can. When you are a big enough person to let your team in on helping to develop a positive solution, they will be grateful to you for respecting them enough to ask. They will respect you more in return. When they participate in the solution they will get on board and support it. Deep inside they know gossiping is not a good thing, anyway. A joint solution is the best solution. The solution may be something like: 1) Everyone votes at the end of the day for who did the best that day to stay positive and not talk about others and why they voted for that person. At the end of the week the person with the most votes wins a small prize for “most improved.” 2) People caught gossiping will be asked to put $1 in a jar each time and the proceeds will be given weekly to some charity cause. 3) Anyone caught gossiping about “Person A” has to write a really nice note to “Person A” telling them something they appreciate about them or some good quality they have noticed. These are just a few examples. Your group will come up with other solutions, no doubt, and you should use what they suggest. You can also offer the group ideas if you have them. Always be prepared for your solution to be outvoted, however, as another idea may be preferred by your group. Let them know you will accept their solution if it works. If not, you will have to institute stricter measures. Once everyone has agreed on a plan, be sure to comment positively on the good changes that are being made within your team as they implement the solution. Thank them regularly. Comment often on how much better things are going, if they do begin going better. If and when gossip still rears its ugly head, remind them again of your expectations and what they all agreed on. If it continues, especially with one or two serious offenders, talk to them privately by using a positive confrontation technique as described in Challenge 18 on dealing with the employee who won’t perform. ******** Ajai was concerned about the proliferation of gossip in his department. Ajai was the new supervisor of the bindery department for a large printing operation. He had previously worked in the set-up department as the lead operator, and this was a promotion for him. When he had become supervisor he had been required to watch a

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


series of training videos. Some of the information on the videos was pretty good and would be helpful, but nothing he had learned had addressed the issue of what to do about rumors and gossip. Ajai was set to have the third of his monthly staff meetings with his eleven operators next week. He decided he would just tell them there was too much gossip and that it was hurting morale, and they should stop. He did, just like he planned. The trouble was, this only seemed to work for a few days. Soon everything was back just like before his little speech. He went to his old boss who had been his mentor and was now his peer. Betty suggested that he call the group together and, rather than telling them what to do, ask them for their ideas. He needed to emphasize how hurtful gossip was and that everyone was going to be held to a new standard. Then let the group offer ideas. So at his next staff meeting Ajai tried it that way. The first person who spoke up made a humorous comment, and then several others cracked jokes. Ajai waited patiently, just as Betty had suggested. Then someone finally spoke up and made a suggestion that anyone caught gossiping by anyone else in the department had to pay a fine. Ajai looked around and asked people if they thought this would work. Most people were nodding their heads. “Does that include breaks?” someone asked. Several people started to argue about this, and it was clear that there was no agreement. Finally Ajai stepped in and said, “For the first two weeks, let’s say you only have to pay the fine if you are caught gossiping in the department. After that time, we should be getting in better habits. Then the fine will be for any time you are on the property and are caught gossiping. Will that work?” Several people were reluctant to agree because they thought what they did and said on their own time, like breaks, was no one else’s business. “But you are still on work property and what you say and do does affect other people here. I think you can all do this, and I think our trust and morale level will be higher. Are you willing to do this with me?” Everyone agreed, although some less eagerly than others. After the first two weeks, they had collected a total of $12. People were really being on their best behavior. At the end of that time, Ajai sent everyone a memo reminding them that beginning the first of next week, the fine applied to gossiping anywhere at work. He thanked them for their participation so far and said he thought the plan was working and that they were all benefiting. Sure enough within one month, gossiping had been reduced considerably. At his next staff meeting Ajai asked people whether they liked the new atmosphere where they did not have to worry about who might be spreading rumors about them. Most people agreed and thought they should continue the plan.

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


Points to remember: 1) Call a group meeting to discuss morale issues and get ideas for reducing gossip. 2) Implement the best ideas(s) suggested by your group. 3) Hold the group absolutely accountable for new and higher behavior standards.

Quick, What Do I Do? Volume 1

Copyright 2003 Emily A. Sterrett


Has the boss said you must change or your job may be in jeopardy? Do you fully understand that your career potential will be limited until you gain more selfcontrol? Is your temper causing strained relationships and stress at work? Is it negatively impacting your personal and family life? Force yourself to remember the times when you have hurt others with your outbursts or demanding approach. If you are serious about changing and controlling your outbursts. Force yourself to remember times when you may have been embarrassed after you lost your temper. No one likes a bully for very long—and an apology afterwards will never erase what you said or did in anger. But don’t you believe either of these things! You need a new way to handle your temper. But everyone can learn to stay in control of their own behavior. Write them down. however. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. give careful thought to why you want to change.” then there is no sense in going any further in this section. they live in fear of the next hurt you will dish out. take a nice walk alone outdoors or get yourself seated in a comfortable place where you are by yourself. either. Build yourself a list of compelling reasons. You may not be in control of a situation. Chances are good that you will not be going any further in your career. and other people will have to accept you that way. Sterrett 131 . Some people pick up bad habits through their life experiences in managing their anger or negative emotions and explode without thinking. A bad temper is a serious liability in management. “I have a bad temper I need to control. People may try to “forgive” but they don’t quite trust you. You need to have a little heart-to-heart talk with yourself. The first question to ask yourself is “Do I really and truly want to change?” Think about your answer carefully. On some level.____________________________________________________________________ Challenge 32. and you will never be in control of another person’s behavior. If you can’t answer an enthusiastic “yes. Think you can simply apologize each time after you explode and that will take care of it. You may even face demotion or have difficulty holding a job. Visualize their faces and how you have caused them pain. this explosiveness makes them feel in control of others. Try the following ideas. it gives them a false sense of power.” ____________________________________________________________________ You might tempted to: o o Assume that’s just the way you are. ~~~~~~~~~~ Sometime very soon when you are feeling fairly calm. Are there times when you have backed yourself in a corner and had a temper-tantrum instead of admitting you were wrong? Quick.

in fact. If you are in a situation where you feel your temper rising. Your motivation must be based on your beliefs. The friend could provide the distraction. 1) Think of a model—a person you admire who remains level-headed in difficult situations. ask them how they do it. Practice saying your comments calmly. 3) You can also have a friend/partner who is with you a lot and is working with you to improve your anger management. Take some deep breaths. Develop a plan for something funny or kooky you can do when you get tense. there are a number of anger-control techniques you can try on your own or with the help of a friend. want to be a new person. or a local college or university continuing education program. Anger management programs are common. with your county recreation office. your visualizing. Ask for their advice on how they stay calm in tense times. 2) Use distraction to your advantage. 5) Rehearse a positive script or scene in your mind ahead of time for whenever you believe you may have a difficult situation or confrontation coming up. It may be especially helpful if they can make you laugh. To create a new habit will involve all of those aspects.” You have to begin thinking of yourself in a new way if you. community mental health center. 4) Use a timeout process for yourself. If you continue in your negative belief about yourself. You will be with others who are having the same struggle. Remain out of the situation for a few minutes in order to calm down. not just one part of you. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. immediately excuse yourself and move to another physical location. Think about how that calmness feels in your body so you can remember and recreate it later when the situation is tense. Doing something unusual to disrupt your anger pattern will often help break the pattern. and your actions. we must have powerful reasons for doing so. any of these may be sources of potential help. change your belief and your thoughts to: “Even though I used to have temper. Visualize the situation and the potential conflict. See yourself remaining calm. this is just a cop-out and a justification for your continued bad behavior. I am a person who has learned to control it. A temper has many negative health consequences. pull out your joke book quickly and read several jokes until you feel yourself becoming less tense. Visualize yourself being successful in controlling anger as often as you can.You will need to create this kind of powerful motivation for yourself in order to change. and my life works much better now. See it in as much detail as possible. It will be inspiring to hear of their successes. Play make-believe often and imagine yourself in a tough interaction where you successfully control your temper. Observe this person carefully and see if you can develop some of their behavioral style. For example. your feelings. Quick. In addition to a class. Sterrett 132 . Check with your local hospital or doctor. too. Call or go see them right away. Instead of holding on to the belief about yourself that you have a bad temper. your thoughts. If you can have contact with them. For any of us to change an ingrained habit. Check. Seek one out and enroll.

7) Work with a coach. At the same time. He had told them before that items must not be left out in the staging area. As you continue to improve in this area. Sterrett 133 . “Anthony. We have talked about this before. write what you could have done differently. Celebrate small victories and they will become bigger ones. Writing down the behaviors and feelings is a great way to increase your own awareness and to become more analytical and committed to change. because you’ve chased off good employees with your hotheadedness. they should be written up for a safety violation.6) Keep a journal. This could be someone who is with you a lot and can point out when things are going well and can even give you subtle prompts when they see you beginning to lose your cool. and Anthony intended to run his department by the books. give yourself praise and congratulations. 8) Whenever you are successful. With your challenges. Mark said. Mark was also the son of the owner and founder of this cabinet-making operation which sold products to a number of large home improvement stores. and they knew it. Confide your success and pride to anyone else who knows what you are trying to do about controlling your temper. In the middle of his outburst Anthony noticed that Mark had walked around the corner. He didn’t say anything right away. someone who is committed to your self-improvement project. He just lost his temper and even said a few choice words. In his seven years as transportation supervisor at Hawthorne’s he had had only one minor accident. they knew better so they deserved it. He was still hot from his tirade to his workers. they can help you plan and practice a more appropriate response. I thought you were improving but not if this is any indication. Well. Write down your successes as well as your challenges. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. They can talk over situations with you after they occur. you will see others responding to you much more positively. Mark was operations manager and his boss. damn it.” “Well. looking for him. ******** Anthony called Ricardo and Chip over to Bay 3 of the loading dock. you have got to get control of your temper. Anthony followed. in person or by phone. It was a safety hazard. and over time mistakes will get less serious and less frequent. but he walked into Anthony’s office.” Anthony protested.” Quick. Some of the production areas had much worse records. don’t beat yourself up over an occasional slip. but it was a safety hazard. “Yeah. making suggestions and reinforcing your improvements. You will greatly enhance your relationships and your leadership effectiveness. Continue to be committed to your goal. Mark overheard the last few sentences. But you don’t get people to improve their behavior by yelling at them. Your coach could be a professional that you have periodic contact with. Anthony really let Chip and Ricardo have it.

The instructor sent him the reading material as an email attachment and even sent his own notes. Anthony started reading the material later that day. both reading and some activity he was supposed to do. before she left him several years ago. When class night arrived. But something made him follow through.” said Mark. She told him how to pay for the class and that they would have to receive his payment before the second class. “Well. He welcomed Anthony and everyone introduced themselves briefly. the boss had told him to do it. Mental health?! He wasn’t crazy. Quick. He decided to go ahead and call the instructor.” Anthony was not pleased that he had gotten caught. He had refused to go to counseling with her. it was scheduled to last for six weeks. Homework?! Anthony was not pleased about being “in school” again. There were seven other people in the class. though. She said that. it’s not how we do it here.” said Anthony quietly. But the woman reassured him that it would be a lot more interesting and that the other people in the class were all adults and the instructor treated them with respect and helpfulness.“It always worked for my father. honestly. He returned Anthony’s call and told Anthony that. An anger management class!! What a waste of time. you have really got to get a handle on this. His wife had told him some of these things too. he thought. “I want you to take a class in anger management. and the instructor was actually very nice. Sterrett 134 . The stories of others in his class were similar. both business and personal. Anthony began to realize that maybe there was something to all this stuff after all as he tried out some of the activities at work. Anthony got the material within two hours of his recent temper outburst. Over the next five weeks Anthony did learn some things about why he felt angry. He had to agree that a lot of what he was reading made sense and sounded like it could have been written about him. She said the instructor might still let him into the class if Anthony would contact him and would agree to do the reading and the homework practice. Anthony called the local community college looking for a class. Anthony. He learned about the negative impacts on his own health and how anger was so detrimental to relationships. in some cases. and they referred him to the community mental health center. yes. The woman that answered the phone was very pleasant and engaged Anthony in conversation. Next time. he was nervous. they offered such classes and that one series had just started two nights ago. This time he was finally getting the message. but his job was clearly on the line. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Find a class and we’ll pay for it. There was homework each week. to his own. indeed. he would let him into the class if he agreed to do the first session’s work. so he had better make it look like he was doing something about it. but. You do good work. Well. and he almost didn’t call. That ought to make Mark happy. he’d just be more careful about who was around to overhear him.

Continue to practice and acknowledge your own positive steps. He told him he thought Anthony seemed a little calmer and that he must be learning some things. “Well.” said Anthony. proud of his newly-developing self-control. So I guess I am learning a few things. I have come close—twice. I’ll see how I do.” said Mark. “I hope you will continue to make progress. Get help from someone who is interested in your success. and I’m proud of you. Anthony beamed.One day at work Mark asked him how the anger management classes were going. “but the instructor has offered us an optional session in three weeks if we want to come back in and get any advice or anything. What Do I Do? Volume 1 Copyright 2003 Emily A. Quick. because he didn’t think Anthony had lost his temper at all lately. Sterrett 135 . But I caught myself in time. Who knew? Maybe there was even a chance for him and his wife… Points to remember: 1) 2) 3) 4) Resolve that you can and will improve.” said Mark. but I may go back and just check in with him. And the odd thing is that I feel a little less stress at work. I really have started feeling a little calmer now that I am not letting myself get upset about so many things.” “I see the improvement. Adopt one or more anger control techniques.” “We only have one more class.” “I knew you could do it.

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