Don't let sympathy stand in the way of being a good manager


August 28, 1994|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

A marketing department supervisor writes: "One of the few times when being female makes my job harder is when I have to get tough with an employee who already is having more than his or her share of trouble.

"I had to put a woman on probation because for the past six months, she's been out of the office more than she's been in it. I know these absences aren't really her fault -- she's a single mother with four young children and one after the other has been sick.

"But although I sympathize with her situation, our workload is heavy as it is, and the rest of my staff made it clear that they resented taking on her work load along with their own. When my boss asked me for the

third time what I was going to do about my 'personnel problem,' I knew I couldn't let matters ride any longer. " she wrote.

A kind heart and sympathetic nature are assets for any boss; the best bosses care about the needs, desires and feelings of their employees. Butsometimes these assets get in our way because they make it difficult for us to remember where our emotional responsibility to our employees begins and ends.

It begins the minute we walk into our workplace and ends when we leave at night. Bosses who habitually take their employees' ++ personal problems home at night usually end up incapable of being objective and effective when they need to be.

Our responsibility to the people who work for us begins with our being decent and fair, considerate and helpful, with our making it clear every day that we view them as human beings, not machines.

It stops with our being embroiled in -- or feeling responsible for -- the circumstances of their lives outside of work. We're their bosses, in other words, not their mothers.

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