One Managers Journal
This is the real life journal of a manager I know. To read what this is all about, start here.
To comment on these entries, or ask questions, go to the Management Forum and post in the folder titled "Journal".
I'm thinking here:
Now I know what my parents felt like when they discovered I wasn't the perfect child. I can't believe one of MY employees did something so unprofessional. But I do wish the complainant hadn't waited A MONTH to say something.
Anyway, as usual (as of late), I'm spending WAY too much time thinking about this? It's a fairly simple matter...There's no reason for ME to be nervous. I'm the BOSS. I run this joint (at least within these four walls). I'll just ask him for his side and we'll go from there.
Should I ask him to come my office or should I go to his? Hmm...What would John and Marcia do? Normally, I go to his because I believe that summoning employees to my office creates an unnecessary and false barrier -- an air of superiority.
But if I go in his office, he might not realize the seriousness of this. I'd better ask him to come to my office.
So Joe, where were you on the morning of...No, that sounds too much like an interrogation. How about this, do you recall working on the XYZ project around Christmas? Tell me about it? What's the status? How'd you leave things (before vacation)? OK That's better.
Sounds like a simple innocent case of miscommunication/misinterpretation/misunderstanding, which basically amounts to he said/she said. No use crying over spilled milk. All you can do is wipe it up and pour another cup.
I can't diagnose the situation because I wasn't there. I could prescribe the intervention, but would it be the best intervention for all and would my employee learn anything about what has happened and how to handle these situations when I'm not here?
"Well, we can't undo what has been done, all we can do is move forward in the right direction...Joe, you're closer to the situation than I am...how would you suggest we handle it. What would satisfy (the complainer)?...How can we make this a win/win?..." Joe replies, "Well I'll just apologize and tell her it won't happen again." WRONG!
That's probably something MY managers would expect me to do. But I can't ask or even allow my employee accept sole responsibility for this -- to apologize for something he didn't do. That'll only create a negative and unfair characterization of him. So I ask, "What is it you feel you did wrong? What should you apologize for?" Good Answer. Good Answer!!! He decides to apologize for not communicating more clearly or asking for feedback to ensure the communication was received and understood. Not for the resulting error or its impact.
"OK. Now what do we do? How can we make it right?," I ask. HE decides to ask her how we can resolve this issue, then offer to continue to be of assistance in the future. Under the circumstances, it's the best anyone should expect. "If you don't mind, I'd like to meet with her myself," Joe says. "Absolutely! I have no problem with that."
LSS, I followed up with her today and all is well. He's working on something else for her and it happens to be something he wanted to do anyway. So win/win for everyone.
I know this is not a big deal. This is not my first management position and it's not the first time I've had to counsel an employee. But it is the first time in an environment such as this -- suspicion, distrust, brazen jockeying for position, doubt, theory X managers, etc. etc. etc.