Thursday, October 15, 2009

Solving Problems with Supervisors

Your employee newsletter or workplace newsletter has endless possibilities for managing risk. Consider writing an article to help employees take action and be proactive about fixing relationships with their supervisors when problems arise.

Not getting along with the boss will rank high on any employee’s list of stressors. Taking initiative to fix the relationship is tough, but payoffs are huge for reduced conflict, increase productivity, and the viral improvement of morale.

Further deterioration of a supervisor-supervisee relationship makes it tougher to repair down the road. Employees should be prompted to take the time to define the real issue creating problems in their relationship before such a meeting however.

The next step is discuss one's perspective with a confidential, professional helper to gain clarity on the purpose and need for the meeting with a supervisor. An employee assistance professional (no not an 800# cubicle counselor in cyberspace) is the ideal confidant. The goal for the employee is an improved relationship, not finding fault. This takes some coaching by the counselor because employees typically have convinced themselves that the supervisor is out to get them. A role play can be immensely helpful.

Has the employee played any role in the problem? Do communication issues in the past contribute to the difficulties that are experienced in the relationship at present?

Employees won't get very far if they don’t accept the universal principle that each party in conflict plays a role in contributing to it. Your workplace newsletter can offer this guidance and appear as neutral and powerful source of the information. (Simply use parts of this post in your article. Massage the content you see here to make the point. You can get more articles, just the text without royalties on similar topics at

Continuing..after preparation, the employee explains in plain, unemotional language the observations and concerns about the relationship. An employee should use I statements. “It appears that we are having difficulties in our relationship.” or “I have been concerned about the way we communicate", etc.

An employee trying to fix a relationship with a supervisors should apply universal rules to the process. 1) Be positive—not cocky or passive aggressive. 2) Don’t act like you’ve cornered your boss. 3) Let the boss respond to your statements without interrupting. 4) Always let the boss have the last word. And 5) initiate regular contact with your boss going forward. Do not let any more trees grow between you after chopping one down.

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