Monday, April 28, 2008

Which comes first, employees or the company?

Q. Dan, I have discovered since being a supervisor that it’s sometimes difficult to meet my employees’ and my employer’s needs equally. I try to draw a balance, but it is clearly not always possible. How do I straddle the fence of loyalty between these two groups better?

A. This is a question many managers ask. I will try to be short and sweat about it. Being a good supervisor should not be an issue of straddling the fence between competing groups. Every great supervisor knows that the first responsibility is to develop a productive relationship with employees so they can get the work done. A productive relationship means fairness, clear and good communication, recognition, and reward for productivity. This is how the needs of the employer are best met. The workplace must not be a "them versus us" game. Some supervisors do not understand this point. Because their employees are directly in front of them all the time, and their need to please is great, it's easy to hear employee complaints, be sympathetic, and feel as though they are the "main thing." Some managers may view themselves as "champions for the people." This is a role fraught with stress. There is nothing wrong with looking out for your employees, but if the needs of the organization are pushed to second place in the process, you will not serve either.