The Counsellor's thoughts...

Dear Claire

Being a boss isn’t always peachy. The promise of power and respect can be alluring, but the reality of being responsible and respected by a team of employees may not be as glamorous as you imagined. You’re managing a team of fallible human beings who’re bound to fail you at some point. Dealing with employees who don’t respect you or your authority can eventually make your job impossible. Nevertheless, one of the reasons you’re in a leadership role is to demonstrate the capability to direct employees and sensibly use your authority and leadership to do away with behaviour that signals lack of respect. Many supervisors engage in behaviour that destroys their credibility and reduces their position far below the dignity of their office. If you are guilty of unethical practices or poor communication, something needs to be changed in order to behave in such a manner that differentiates you from your subordinates.

When you got promoted at work, definitely, your status ascended in a way that calls for conduct that matches your new position. Once you become fearful of upsetting subordinates’ feelings because you’re friends with them, mediocrity, interpersonal conflicts or lack of productivity will emerge at work. Therefore, you’ll need to establish a strong system of accountability, employee conduct and job responsibilities to bring sanity to the workplace and attain company goals. Besides, before you blame your subordinates, evaluate your leadership skills and how you interact with them. Being too simple and overly friendly to your subordinates could potentially translate into a weakness which is worthy of being manipulated by your subordinates.

If you want to be a ‘people-pleaser’, employees will take advantage of your weak spot and neglect duty, and this’ll ultimately result into insubordination. Insubordination is when an employee does not follow the instructions given to them by their boss; it is often expressed in forms of refraining from performing tasks and sometimes, even yelling at their bosses. As a result, other employees who report to you will likely consider you an ineffective leader who lacks authority. Do not be too controlling, but also, do not be too nice.

Your company should have a written policy on how employees should interact with their superiors, including specific rules regarding insubordination. This should protect you if you ever have to defend the firing of an employee in court. Additionally, the policy statement and rules also have a list of punishments for breaking the rules. Share this with your employees from time to time in staff meetings so that they understand the expectations of the company and begin to take their responsibilities seriously. If an employee is aggressive, you’ll need to have a follow-up meeting and outline the specific behaviour that needs to change. Then develop a personal improvement plan for them with specific goals and deadlines. Be clear about the punishments that the employee will face if they don’t follow the rules. This is what defines your position as a boss and it’s an essential leadership practice that you must rationally build over time.