Management and Popularity

Placing yourself on the firing line as a manager is not for the faint of heart. Because of the responsibilities you will shoulder, there will always be someone, somewhere who finds your handling of one of their matters unacceptable.

Recently, in my effort to fine tune the content and offerings I want to publish here, I was doing some survey work inside my contact database. Most responses were very helpful, insightful, thoughtful, etc. These were building good community energy.

Then I opened up one particular survey response.

Courtesy 123rf.com/ Christophe BOISSON
Courtesy 123rf.com/ Christophe BOISSON

Ouch! This person, who refused to admit who he/she was, jumped me pretty hard about my “lack of management skill”. Basically, they called me a hypocrite for thinking I could teach and coach new managers because their personal opinion of me was so ‘poor’.

Well, without being able to know anything about this person and the specific circumstances to which they were referring, I can only tell you I am not surprised.

As a long-time manager, I am absolutely positive I have sent more than a few people home at the end of the day, or at the end of their employment with me, with a VERY bad impression of who and what I was. That comes with the territory.

I never would intentionally alienate an employee or co-worker, but I have routinely been put in the place of having to reign in bad behavior in the workplace. I am sure that some of the people who became subject to those actions were confident I was the worst boss they had ever known.

But, I have to tell you I have also had plenty of people tell me that even AFTER one of those moments, they thought my handling of their situation was fair, respectful, dignified, and appropriate. I don’t say this to suggest I am perfect, shoot, far from it. But cold, insensitive and a poor manager…no, not true.

I am sharing this with you because it does happen. If you are doing work as a team leader for any size of unit, you run a high risk that someone, at some point, will take a dim view of your leadership. There is only so much you can do to fix the situation and show grace. Circumstances may even dictate you should have no further contact with them (can you say ‘labor law’?).

If you think of a traditional bell curve, you will get a good picture of what to expect.

Courtesy 123rf.com/ Marek Uliasz
Courtesy 123rf.com/ Marek Uliasz

On the extreme but opposite ends of the curve, you have your superstar performers versus the people who will not last on the job. There will always be movement on both ends. For the poorer performers, you will be bogged down in remediation efforts and, unfortunately for some, eventual disciplinary actions.

Again, it comes with the territory. Just do not become so fearful of having haters that you lose your effectiveness. Sure, you can do many things to minimize the impact of this kind of response. But it is far more critical that you establish your own brand of leadership style and method, and stick to it.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Adjustments can come from experience and coaching.[/shareable]

Be resolved to follow your plan and not be swayed by those who may claim a negative opinion of you.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Being a manager is never about winning a popularity contest.[/shareable]

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