Exactly When Should the Boss Step In?
Have you ever encountered parents who wanted to be friends with their kids? Instead of disciplining them and teaching them right from wrong, the parents try to hang out with their children, are extremely laid back and give them freewill to do as they please. Why? The parents want to be liked, to be deemed as cool parents who are open. They hope that if they’re less “parent-like” and more “friend-like” their children will be more prone to approach, confide in and trust them.
You may be surprised to hear this, but there are many bosses out there who have the same mindset. Sure, we all want to be liked, superiors included. But, like some parents, there are managers who become too lax with their staff, being more social, friendly and ‘at the water cooler gossipers’ than the leaders, directors and persons to hold staff accountable that they’re supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, a friendly manager is better than an uptight one, but (like the parents) there needs to be a balance.
Managers and supervisors have roles: to manage and supervisor. It’s not always the easiest task, but it is a part of their duties to know and execute the role-level they occupy. I’ve encountered situations where a manager did not handle his/her team properly, but instead allowed the staff to handle problems its own way. Let me tell you, it did not end pretty. I’ve also been in situations where managers had no control over staff members and his/her lower level employee(s) ran the show. Not good.
Below are four scenarios where it’s necessary to put down the “friend” cap and put on the “boss” hat:
When every team member isn’t doing his/her part.
Most people work in teams and depend on others to get the overall work done. It’s important that each person carries out his or her duties because if one person is off, it can disrupt the entire team. It’s not fair if others work diligently, but a select one or two people do not. And no worker should be forced to carry a team or do another person’s work on top of his or her own. Sure, people can address the slack with their coworkers, but this is the duty of the boss. The manager oversees how his/her team operates; therefore, in these instances it’s important for the boss to address work responsibilities with staff.
To solve critical problems within the team.
Departments are made up of different people with different backgrounds, ideas and beliefs. Conflicts are bound to arise. Staff need not go to managers for small issues people can work out among themselves—not returning staplers, noise disruptions, etc.—but serious problems should be handled by a manager. Anything concerning harassment, invasion of privacy, anything illegal, harmful to another person or the company needs to be addressed by a superior. It’s not the place of an employee to confront a coworker about an issue another worker brought up, but the manager’s.
To advocate for staff.
Workers not only need to be directed, but, sometimes, they need someone to stand up for them. Injustices happen in the workplace all the time and sometimes it can be an employee’s word against someone’s in a higher position. Managers should stand up for their staff members, backing and supporting them when appropriate and necessary.
To monitor cliques within the team.
In a large group setting, people tend to break off into small groups. This is normal. Yet, sometimes small groups, or cliques, can be dangerous in the workplace, especially within a team. Every team member may not get along and no one said your entire staff must be best friends, but managers should monitor cliques within his or her team to ensure no staff members are being discriminated against or feel excluded for the wrong reasons. You cannot force your staff to communicate but it’s necessary, as the boss, to direct communication as much as possible to ensure employees work together as a unit.