Workplace Emotional Traps, Part IV: Managing Down and The Decision

In this fourth and final installment in the series about emotional traps in the workplace and what you can do about them, I take a look at what authors Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster have to say in Working with You is Killing Me about managing down as well as asking the ultimate question: Should I stay or should I go?

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Managing Down

In Part III of this series you read about how important it is to manage up to keep your superiors and yourself on the same page. But what about when you serve in a supervisory capacity and your workers are driving you crazy? The authors strongly suggest that any time you’re overseeing the work of others, you need to view that relationship as if you’re a parent. They suggest the following four key principles of business parenting:

  1. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them. Lucikly, this one is easily taken care of by having a few simple items. One includes accurate and easily accessible job descriptions for each position your supervise. Make sure they’ve read them and fully understand them. The other has to do with policies and procedures of your company. Make sure you employees have and understand any employee manuals or handbooks.
  2. Employees need consistent feedback. It’s shocking how many companies still have annual employee performance reviews, or maybe twice-yearly reviews. That’s just plain silly. Employees need to be very regularly informed of how they are performing through consistent feedback. And don’t forget to adequately reward great performance.
  3. Employees will test their environment. Just like kids, employees will test boundaries, but you already know how important it is to respond clearly and firmly to boundary violations, which was covered in Part I of this series.
  4. Business tools are a manger’s best friends. You have to learn to use the business tools at your disposal (policies, job descriptions, employee reviews, expectations, staff meetings, write-ups/warning, and so on) like household rules, especially when dealing with the following nine management headaches caused by their employees: the chronically delayed (always late for everything), the MIA (missing in action for all kinds of vague reasons), the cynic (skeptical and critical of anything and everything), the passive-aggressive (never openly disagreeable, but their “yes” almost always shows as a “no” in practice), the attention seeker (always seeking attention and approval because they’re insecure), the bad attitude (open unfriendly and hostile, fighting you all the way), the slug (reliable but painfully slow in completing assignments), the addict (consumed by some kind of mood-altering addiction, their behavior is erratic and unpredictable), and the thief (whether small stuff or large, they seem to think they can take company property).

The typical response of many managers to these headaches is often something along the lines of “I shouldn’t have to be their parent.” But actually you should, and to the extent you’re not is the extent to which these management headaches will continue to plague you. Use your business tools and be very clear about expectations.

Should I Stay or Should I go?

In this series you’ve read about all kinds of emotional traps in the workplace, from crazy coworkers to extreme bosses to petty employees under you supervision. The authors of Working with You is Killing Me have given you all sorts of tools to make these situations better. So what do you do if you try all of them and things are still rotten for you at work? This is when you have to ask yourself if the corporate culture of where you’re at is right for you. In other words, there are times when it’s better to move on to a place that would be a much better fit for you.

The authors of the book present two important assessment tools that can help you answer this complex and important question. The first is a personal inventory that helps you figure out what it is that you need from a corporate culture to feel happy in your work. The other is a workplace appraisal that will help you figure out your workplace is really like. If the two assessments end up being irreconcilably different from one another, it may be a sign that it’s time to move on. There’s no sense in staying in a place that runs totally counter to your own nature and desires.

August 13, 2015   Updated :August 13, 2015   culture, emotional traps   

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