How Your Managers Can Harm You
Do you know how your managers are leading their teams? Many employers have ended up in expensive litigation because of comments made by managers and supervisors. Front-line managers and supervisors are responsible for a large number of discrimination and retaliation claims, and if you get the Human Resource publications that I do – you know it’s true.
The person who interacts with your employees the most often is probably their supervisor or manager. That’s who they go to when they have a problem, need a day off, or need help with a project. If that person is not well trained on how to respond to requests that could become ADA or EEOC issues, then you have a time bomb waiting to go off.
Let me give you just two examples:
The type of culture that you encourage in your business will help you or hurt you when you have these issues. If your basic culture is one of “our people first”, then the natural reaction is going to be the right one. “How can we help you get through this and what do you need?” should be the first reaction. Even if in your secret heart you’re thinking “oh, man, how can we do without them for 3 weeks??” Outwardly, you’re going to be as pleasant and helpful as you can.
It is your responsibility to know when your company or em-ployees qualify for FMLA or ADA and how to administer these statutes. For more information: Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act
We will discuss ADA and FMLA statutes in our next blog.
July 19, 2019 is the 26th anniversary of President Clinton’s announcement of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for the United States military. This policy was implemented as a compromise to allowing homosexual and bisexual individuals into the military. It didn’t solve anything and in fact caused more issues with discrimination because the decision implied that the entire LGBTQ community was bad and should be hidden behind a curtain.
As we continue to see discriminatory practices in both private and government employment, what can we, as business owners, do to promote diversity and inclusion in our organizations?
The simple answer is, use your common sense. “Gender identity in the workplace remains a complex issue, and the legal landscape remains somewhat uncertain in some regards. Nevertheless, by treating employees fairly and not acting arbitrarily, employers can limit potential discrimination liability while fostering positive employee morale.” advises Tim Reed of Ford Harrison.
There are some language changes or additions that you may be asked to deal with. One is the Preferred Gender Pronoun;(a preferred gender pronoun, or PGP, is simply the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual.) For more information about PGP’s see this article: https://www.gsafewi.org/wp-content/uploads/What-the-heck-is-a-PGP1.pdf. Please note that the article was written in 2012 - so this isn’t new. Another word you may not be familiar with is “cisgender”. According to Wikipedia: Cisgender (sometimes cissexual, often abbreviated to simply cis) is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender woman. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender. The word was first used in the early 90’s
You never want anyone to feel uncomfortable when they are around you - whether at work or play. Pay attention when someone tells you they prefer a specific pronoun and do the best you can to remember what to say. It can take some practice and you’re probably going to make some mistakes, but that’s OK, you’re trying and that counts for a lot.
How you handle this with your employees is crucial. It’s not just you who should be willing to accommodate a request like this, but the rest of your staff as well. If you have set the tone of your company culture to facilitate inclusion, diversity and equity, the rest of your staff will follow along. They don’t have to be 100% on board, but the rules of good manners and the general atmosphere will prevail until even the hardest to convince relaxes and accepts the changes. After all, the person who has determined that they have been living as the wrong gender hasn’t really changed how they work, or how they interact with their co-workers.
Ways that you can provide inclusion and equity for LGBTQ employees are:
Congratulations, yesterday you were an individual contributor, today you are a manager!!!
Now you have direct-reports - you are usually responsible for assigning them work and managing their performance of those tasks —you're their boss. The hard part of the boss job is the “managing performance” part.
You and your direct reports are now partly dependent on each other to achieve success. When they succeed, you succeed. And they'll succeed with your mentoring. One of your goals as a manager should be to teach someone how to do your job - so you can get promoted to do an even more important job. Your next most important goal is to recognize those who are not contributing, work to get them on the right track - or to move them out is they can’t learn to do the job. Harsh sounding maybe, but that’s part of being the boss! There are several good articles on mentoring available, they all say about the same thing. Here’s one I think is to the point and accurate: https://fairygodboss.com/articles/how-to-be-an-effective-business-mentor.
It is difficult when you first become a manager to remain friendly, but stop being friends with the folks who used to be your co-workers and are now your direct reports. However, it is one of the most important steps you need to make. This move should not be abrupt, because then your former co-workers will think you got the big-head along with the promotion. Ease yourself out of those after hour sessions of whine and cheese and while you always have a friendly greeting for everyone, if you stop to chat for a minute, it’s about the weather or traffic and not the current office gossip.
A sad fact about some people and promotion - they become Little Hitlers. They are so afraid that they are not going to make the grade as a boss that they become dictatorial, and seem to forget that their direct reports are people, too. Good managers don’t get all wrapped up in everybody punching in 5 minutes before they are to start working and they don’t stand at the door taking notes about what time their direct reports come back from lunch! (Here’s a great article by Susan Lucas about that! https://www.inc.com/suzanne-lucas/10-things-managers-should-stop-worrying-about.html) Good managers do take note of who’s struggling with a task, who never turns in a project on time and who looks as though they don’t feel well. There’s no reason you can’t ask an employee to step into your office and behind closed doors, ask if they feel well, or whether they are having trouble with a task. Also, there is a very good reason why you should be checking with an employee who is consistently not turning work in on time, because that employee needs to be on a plan that helps them get their work done, and if that doesn’t work, they need to be on a warning plan that will move them out.
This is where a new manager could use a warning - 61% of workplace bullying comes from bosses. How you approach poor work, general tardiness and some of the other poor habits employees can develop is very important. Glaring, yelling, having a tantrum are indicative of immaturity - not good managing. Your management style directly affects your direct reports, their willingness to go the extra mile when it’s needed and whether they stay with you or move on because you are ineffective, rude, overly familiar, or to put it bluntly - a bad boss.
You can be a good manager. You were promoted because someone felt that you had the chops for the job. Take your time - enjoy the feeling and remember, you can’t go wrong if you do your best to do what’s right.