Worker complaintsHow should upper-level managers handle...

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

July 22, 1991

Worker complaints

How should upper-level managers handle employee complaints about supervisors?

Consider this quiz from Gerald Graham, a professor at Wichita State University and a management consultant.

Indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following. It is generally effective for higher-level managers to:

1. Allow employees to go around immediate managers to communicate upward.

2. Withhold sensitive information from subordinate managers.

3. Assume responsibility for solving a subordinate's problem.

4. Allow subordinates to define what is to be communicated.

5. Check on subordinate managers without their knowledge.

6. Make unannounced visits to subordinate managers' departments.

7. Report observations of employees to subordinate managers.

8. Keep some secrets regarding personnel of a subordinate manager.

9. Trust subordinate managers until they prove untrustworthy.

10. Insist that subordinate managers be responsible for their departments.

Although some may disagree, consider the following to be correct: "agree" is 1, 6, 7, 9, and 10; "disagree" is 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8.

Nine or 10 correct equals good, 7 or 8 equals average, 6 or less equals below average.

High job stress

A recent survey of 600 U.S. workers by Northwestern National Life Insurance Co. shows 46 percent report "high" levels of job stress, up from only 20 percent in 1985.

Job stress often results in absenteeism, turnover and decreased productivity. Many experts believe rising job stress mirrors the almost universal automation of the workplace.

"Computers are a new, incredible tool, but there's additional stress from them because they are inanimate objects," says Richard Saul Wurman, author of "Information Anxiety" (Bantam, $12.95).

"People have computer anxiety -- stress that comes from not understanding what they're doing or what [the computer] is saying."

Mr. Wurman blames a poor U.S. educational system that produces "people who are unable to understand computer instructions -- and that leads to low productivity and really hating your job."

But if you feel devastated from working at a computer, there is help through your computer itself.

Dr. Kenneth Colby, a psychiatrist, offers his services through a computer program called Overcoming Depression ($200).

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