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4 More Tricky Workplace Dilemmas – for Managers

Four more tricky workplace dilemmas (for Managers)

Continuing on from with our wildly successful tricky dilemmas series, we are delving into four more tricky workplace dilemmas.  This time they are specifically for those of you who are in leadership or  management positions.  Even if you have a job where you need to influence a manager these tips might be helpful to you.

Tricky Workplace Dilemma 1.  The sickie.

Most managers are clever enough to know that every time a staff member is away ill, they might not be really ill.  The tricky workplace dilemma comes when the staff member has told others that they are taking a sickie, and the news filters back to you, their manager.  Tricky, because you don’t want to incriminate the person who let you know that the sickie taker was on the lamb.  Tricky, because the person who told you, also expects that you do something about it.

I have always erred on honesty being the best policy, and having a frank, yet non accusatory conversation with the sickie taker.  Explain that you had heard that they had told others at work that they were intending to pull a sickie, and then they had called in sick.  Refer to any sick leave policy.  While you can’t do much if they claim they were ill (unless of course you have a facebook photo of them at the cricket), you can let them know that you are on to them.  They might think twice next time.

If you want to read more about dealing with the illegitimate workplace sickie, then click here for another view.

Tricky Workplace Dilemma 2.  The protected species.

Every workplace has one.  The protected species.  At some point in their past they have either done something so monumentally great (or have pictures of the Board doing something so monumentally diabolical) that they are untouchable.  Like Teflon, everything slides right off them.  Protected species are a nightmare to manage as they come with both a healthy ego and a healthy disrespect for anyone who attempts manages them.  Additionally, the protected species is cunning, they know all the tricks to get around any form of management that doesn’t suit them.

The way to deal with the protected species is using fact.  Don’t mess around trying to convince them to like you or motivate them to follow you.  Use straight up fact.  Be clinical in your approach to their performance, to feedback and to engagement.  That way, when they go to your boss, your bosses boss or the Board when they don’t like something you have done you can produce the facts.  You still may not be in a position to fully manage this tricky workplace dilemma, but you at least have it covered.

Tricky Workplace Dilemma 3.  The bad Manager Colleague.

If you are a Manager in an organisation that is a little larger, then chances are you already know what I am talking about here.  A fellow manager who frankly is rubbish at their job.  Maybe they are incompetent, or worse, they are a bit dodgy.  A little while ago I worked with a bad manager colleague.  The name of the game for this manager was doing as little as possible.  As such, the team this manager directed were uninformed of what was going on, were often overlooked for opportunity and very regularly failed to deliver on assigned tasking.  Now, none of this was the teams fault. The manager abjectly failed to provide information, attend important briefings or hold staff to account for their delivery.  Ultimately, the Manager was moved on, but not before the staff in that department had gone through a lot of pain.

My suggestion for this particular tricky workplace dilemma is going one of two ways.  Potentially you can have one of your staff buddy with another team member to pass on information.  Not ideal, as you are navigating around the bad Manager and that might put their staff in a difficult position.  The other way, which is the way I dealt with this particular manager, was a straight to the point approach.  Pull the manager aside and tell them that their staff seem to be uniformed of what is happening.  I asked if they were having team meetings (they weren’t).  I suggested that they start having regular meetings because it was becoming obvious.  The straight up approach won’t get you voted in for Ms Congeniality, but might get things moving in the right direction.

Tricky Workplace Dilemma 4.  The undeserved pay rise request.

This is such a tricky workplace dilemma.  We each have a very particular view on our pay and how a pay rise should be treated.  My particular experience has been that most folks are happy to wait for their annual review, or for a midyear uplift (particularly those who are tied to awards).  However if you have been around for long enough you will always run into a staff member who unaccountably believes that they are significantly underpaid, and despite mediocre performance want to push you for more salary.  I try to be somewhat empathetic to these folks, often external pressures and a lack of self-awareness come into play.

However, it can be a real tricky workplace dilemma to deal with it.  I find fact is your friend in this circumstance. Just work from facts and show how the performance does not merit the pay rise.  I also find that being clear about what they do need to do to earn an uplift can be helpful as well.  This will not always satisfy your staff member. However setting clear expectations and being transparent in process is the fairest things you can do in the circumstances.

Occasionally you will have to be brutally honest about performance.  There might be a gap between your staff member’s ambition and capability.  Not going to make you a popular person in the short term, but might be the fairest thing you can do for the staff member in the long run.

Tricky workplace Dilemmas

I hope that you have enjoyed this month’s tricky workplace dilemmas.  Do you have any tricky workplace dilemmas that you are currently dealing with?

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