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Byline: Ken Lloyd On The Job

Q. One of my fellow managers charged into my office and started ranting and raving about how one of my employees made some mistakes and caused his employees to be late on our joint project. I barked back at him, and I knew immediately that was a mistake. What is the best way to handle this type of situation? J.H.

A. When managers come charging into fellow managers' offices in a rant-and-rave mode, this does not exactly qualify them for rave reviews from the American Management Association. At the same time, you are correct in thinking that it was not a great idea to get into a barking contest with him.

Looking first at the actual situation, the best approach for you to take when encountering this type of verbal attack is to listen, let him recite his litany and then take the one step that can help resolve the matter: Tell him that you will look into the situation immediately and get back to him as soon as possible. After all, when he is going through his tirade, you have no way of knowing if his facts concerning your employee are accurate or not. There is not much of a basis for a discussion on or an argument until you have checked out the situation.

After you have conducted your investigation, the next step is to meet with this manager and present him with facts, documentation, and a suggested plan of correction, whether the problem was caused by your employee or not. After all, it is a joint project.

The real issue is that your two departments are dependent upon each other on various projects, but it sounds like there has been minimal managerial communication and coordination during such projects. The best way to avoid this kind of problem in the future is for the two of you to establish a more formalized timetable.

When there are surprises at the end of an interdepartmental project, they are typically symptoms of a lack of adequate managerial communication and follow-up during the life of the project. And, speaking of communication, you and your fellow manager should discuss the blow-up that occurred and commit yourselves to talk rather than rant, rave, or bark if problems develop.

Q. One of the people who report to me constantly asks me when he is going to get promoted. I don't know when or if he is going to get a promotion, and I have told him to stop asking, but he still persists. How do I get him to stop? G.P.

A. Your employee is operating under the erroneous assumption that the more you hear his promotional message, the more likely you are to buy it. This constant barrage may sell hamburgers, but it does not sell employees.

In fact, the irony is that his nonstop questions are an indicator that he is probably not ready for promotion. They tell you that he does not have much insight into the impact he has on others, and they raise questions about his communication skills and ability to listen.

While he earns high scores on the persistence scale, it is important to remember that a strength, when pushed to an extreme, can become a weakness. In his case, persistence has transformed into annoyance.

Although employees are well-advised to let management know they are interested in being promoted, they do not need to do so several times a day. Rather, they should clearly express their interest, particularly during feedback sessions, and then let their performance demonstrate that they are ready.

The next time your employee approaches you with his favorite question, you should simply tell him the truth. You are uncertain as to when a position will open up, you appreciate his interest in being promoted, and you have taken note of it. At the same time, tell him that he is undermining his chances for promotion by his incessant questions.

On a broader basis, it may be helpful for you to consider working with him and with your other employees to create some specific performance development plans that will help them in their current positions and increase their likelihood for personal and career growth in the future.

If he persists with his questions about being promoted, then it is important to recognize that you are dealing less with the issue of promotion, and more with the issue of an employee who is asking the same question over and over again. And, this is less of a coaching issue and more of a disciplinary issue.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 1, 1996

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