This month’s column started as a humorous turn with regards to people’s bosses and the comedy that is derived from there. But it quickly delved into a darker piece than had been imagined. This turned into an outlet for mostly serious issues that people have.
Here are ten of the more flagrant but not uncommon office issues:
10. Office Tone. We know all too well that when the boss arrives, we look and do a moodcheck. If there is a hint of frustration or anger in the least, that just set the tone for the entire work day, and quite possibly will spill over to home life. Managers need to take a deep breath and understand how critical their demeanor is and how it affects the employees and even productivity.
9. Office Temperature. It’s difficult to maintain the perfect temp for everyone, but penalties for touching the thermostat as well as other stories dictates that something needs to get worked out in most offices.
8. Nepotism. There’s nothing like the boss bringing in a youthful relative to learn the business. No problem here-as long as it is done like Donald Trump. Get the kid a good education and let him work his way up; just like everyone else. There can then be no accusations of favoritism.
7. Tardiness. Nothing can stoke anger in employees when a manager is chronically late and the perception is that the time is never made up. Employees always don’t know the big picture of the true time is involved with the position. Good communication with the team is critical.
6. Radio. There should be no ‘central’ radio. Quiet units on each desk will prevent a repeat of a manager ripping the unit out of the wall leaving a gaping hole with bare wires out for years.
5. Unavailability. When the boss’s door is closed for hours on end, they are considered unapproachable. Some companies are run where they just can’t function without a manager’s approval of some sort before moving forward on a project, quote, purchase order, delivery, pricing, etc. Open that door up and actually be inside!
4. Poor Hiring. Companies are only as good as the people working for them so critical hiring must be done based on past performance and hopeful future success. One manager hired a beautiful woman for the sales desk. The guys applauded him as a hero and went about making quick friends with this young lady. Unfortunately, she was clearly incompetent and relied on the ‘guys’ to help her do her job. Not only was she a poor hire, but even more productivity was lost because of the excessive ‘training’ that she needed. Beauty doesn’t always make a great hire.
3. Micromanager. Of course, an entire column can be written about these folks. Some examples include one who counted every pushpin on the bulletin board and called a meeting when some went missing. One kept all pens locked in his desk and one had to explain why they needed a new one. It’s time that they are reminded of the big picture.
2. Playing favorites. Most everyone has been the victim of not being the ‘Golden Child’ in the office. Every employee deserves equal respect even though their contribution might not equal that of another. But together the team creates success.
1. Personal Assistant. Taking the boss’s car to the wash, being a house sitter for them, a weekend sanding and staining teak on the boss’s boat (this author’s nightmare), and countless other chores for which one cannot easily say no to are all things that have been agreed to reluctantly. These are no ‘favors’. This is where the manager’s true ego comes in and power plays are conducted.
A successful supervisor acknowledges the work their team does, gives them genuine accolades when appropriate, will stand behind his people, can make those tough decisions, will give credit where due and will respect each individual and appreciate their distinctive contribution to the company.
Poor managers, like Bill Lumbergh in the 1999 movie ‘Office Space’, and Michael Scott, from TV’s ‘The Office’ are fictionally funny, but portray leaders that we have all unfortunately been faced with at some point in our careers. Employees need guidance and a good working environment. People want to be treated with respect and a sense of worth. There are people reading this now silently hoping that this brings attention to some real problems out there.