I have a very good friend who is not a big fan of management of which I’m a part. We don’t work for the same companies, thank God, because some of his comments about management are hard to take. I can handle his general remarks, but when they’re directed at my management style, I run into problems. The ones toughest to hear are, “I sure wouldn’t want to work for you. There’s no satisfying you.” He always says these things when I tell him how frustrated I get with the lack of quality in some of my employees’ work product. I can tell he’s not joking around or just giving me a hard time. Some people call me a perfectionist because of my high standards, but I just want things done right. I don’t expect my friend and I to agree on everything but I’ve had enough of the way he puts me down for the expectations I have of my staff. I’ve tried to have a calm discussion with him about it, but it always gets heated and I get defensive, which I don’t want. How would you handle this kind of thing?
Defensive of management style
Dear Defensive of management style:
I would do some deep introspection/objective self-reflection and ask myself if any of my management practices were unreasonable and/or overbearing in some way, especially if I had a reputation for being a perfectionist. And I would also take an objective look at my friend’s comments and determine whether or not he is being unreasonable and/or overly critical, or if I am being overly sensitive.
Oftentimes, management loses sight of the fact that their way of doing things is not necessarily right or the best way; everyone does not have the same perception of what is acceptable; and everyone does not have the ability and/or motivation to do things at a certain level. If I realized my expectations and style could use some tweaking, I, of course, would work on them. I would even let my employees know what I have discovered about myself and the changes I am trying to make. I would also ask my employees for feedback, if I was not already getting it. But if I determined my management style and expectations of the people who work for me were satisfactory, I would stay the course. Regardless of what I determined, I would find another friend to serve as a sounding board for work-related matters so I would not strain the relationship I have with this particular friend. A long time ago, I learned it is rare to have a friend you can go to for everything.
I’ve had it with a colleague who refuses to take a message when I’m working with a customer. We’re both supervisors with the same boss, but we’re in different departments and have different responsibilities. Because we operate with a skeleton crew, whoever is free is supposed to answer our company’s main phone line. And given his type of work, he’s usually the one who has to answer it. And time and time again, he will interrupt me when I’m with a customer. My pod walls are clear, so he can see when I’m with someone. When he does it, I politely tell him I’m with a customer, which is, of course, obvious. He proceeds to tell me the person on the phone specifically asked for me and then walks away. I’m left with no choice but to stop my meeting and pick up the phone. I find his behavior so passive aggressive. I don’t like confrontation, and this guy knows it. I’d appreciate some advice.
Frustrated with colleague’s deliberate interruptions
Dear Frustrated with colleague’s deliberate interruptions:
I can only guess without more information as to why your colleague chooses to treat you the way he does. Obviously, he knows you do not like confrontation, and he is taking advantage of that. Regardless of his motivation, you have to change your modus operandi and have a firm one-on-one with him. Tell him that unless a caller indicates he/she has an emergency, he must not interrupt your customer meetings but take a message instead. As a follow-up to your one-on-one, send your colleague a memorandum or email, depending upon your office’s communication preferences, that reiterates the same directive. If the interruptions continue, take the issue to your boss and be sure to let him/her know of your verbal and written efforts to handle the matter on your own. Best of luck!
© 2013 Rozanne R. Worrell