Monday, June 11, 2012

You're the Boss...and Everyone Knows It!

Situation: A company I work with decided to offer a new facet of service in their industry and tasked that job out to an existing employee. Since this is a new service, no employees in the company have experience or can even categorize this under their current description. The boss put out a memo describing the new job and placed the new task on the desk of an existing employee. At the same time, the boss decided to hire a new employee to fulfill this position without informing his team.

Employee's Point of View: John was relatively excited to take on the new position. It meant time learning how to operate the new software, but also let him engage with the customer more, which was part of his current job. John went home that night and bragged to his wife about how the boss had senta memo out to the entire team about how HE was the right person to handle this workload and maintain his current schedule. He felt very proud of the new addition and stayed up late working with the new software to better understand his new task. He even mentioned to his wife about the possible raise this might incur because, if done strategically, John could make a lot of new revenue for the company, which would eventually come his way!!

This late night at-home working continued for two weeks as John learned more about the software and the customers started calling. He felt he was managing both jobs well and thought his boss was pleased after his boss said, "You're doing a great job, John. We can't thank you enough for doing this right now." He knew in the end that his hard work would pay off, even though the boss seemed too busy to mention how well he was doing.

Later the following week, John was introduced to Scott at the weekly team meeting. Scott was the man in charge of the new software. Disgruntled, John quickly introduced himself and left the meeting before any further words were exchanged.

Boss' Point of View: Terry felt he was putting immense pressure on John by asking him to take on this task. He felt John was great at taking on new tasks and he would deliver, but with the current amount of work on his desk, how could John ever continue doing both jobs at the same time? Stressed to find a solution to John's probability to become overwhelmed, Terry quickly began finding a new employee to take over the new software task. He knew the sooner the better and found a solid replacement in just three weeks after back to back interviews and meetings. The new employee received their background check and accepted the offer in record time. Terry was thrilled and knew John would be relieved to know he had worked so hard to look out for John's wellbeing.

At the meeting, Terry beamed as he made the announcement and stared right at John to read the relief, but it didn't seem to be there; in fact, John seemed almost upset! Terry thought that he would eventually come around and until then, knew John would be the right person t train the new employee to do a great job.


Here we see a form of boss miscommunication, BUT this is also in a form that many bosses never see!! Being the boss means that many employees do not want to bring things to your attention and "deal" with the process of being an employee. Their friends and family usually know about the problems or goals they set for themselves, but as the boss you only know a part of their story. Always keep in mind that no matter what you might know, there is usually something else there that you can learn about your employees.

Terry thought he was doing John a favor and John felt that he was receiving recognition from Terry that he was the man for the job based on how well he had performed previously. The new employee was a slap to the face and Terry was right in sensing that John was upset by his actions. However, John would never boldly go up to Terry and admit his feelings...that doesn't happen in a workplace and surely not between men!!

So how do you rectify the situation?

Terry needs to recognize that something went wrong. Let me stop here and say that no one is WRONG, but the realization that something did go wrong is the first step to rectifying the situation...any situation...with employees!!

A simple question about the matter is perfect.

Terry: Hey John, noticed you were a bit frustrated in the meeting this morning. Am I putting too much pressure on you?

Maybe John will be open about wanting the position, but either way it creates a line of communication. No matter how John sees it, Terry should NEVER expect his employees to try to see everything from his point of view. As a manager, your goal should always to be to see it from the employee's point of view first and then try to use their words to convey what you can do to help them. If you only try to convey your point of view, you will frustrate your employees and many are good at compartmentizing and acting like they care...when they dont!

Employees have a tendency to open up to a third party if they believe it will help them succeed. Why does this matter to you? The more your employees feel they will succeed, the more productive and effecient they will be...that translates into more revenue and a higher morale meaning more success for your company.

Consider learning what your employees keep secret and use that information to catapult them and you to SUCCESS!!

Do you have any situations that you want to see "the other point of view"? Write them as a comment and we can discuss!!


  1. Have seen this occur so many times, from both sides. Sometimes we feel we understand or know our boss or employee but open, VERBAL communication is the key as your scenario proves. Nice lesson.

    1. Yes! Many times it is overlooked because the manager feels they do not need to explain themselves or the employee feels they cannot explain themselves. The key is to recognize and overcome the situation. If a manager can overcome their emotions enough to reach out, then proper communication will occur.