Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Protecting my Staff


a)  Defending my staff in dealings with both internal and external managers.

Traditional managers usually have a tendency to kill the messenger.  When dissatisfied with something, they look for the first person to blame and attack.  I’ve often managed reps which are required to service other managers at various other branches.  I’ve always gotten complaints from my reps about other managers insulting, ordering, criticizing, demanding, or chastising them for problems which are not their responsibility.

This is when I need to “have my staff’s back.”  I do not want my reps to get into confrontations with other managers.  I train my staff not to get in confrontations with anyone, especially managers (this is not the way to create raving fans).  Confrontations escalate, create resentments, and produce fallout.  A traditional manager will view a rep as a subordinate, not an equal.  This will prevent a manager from backing down even if the rep is right.

In situations such as this, my task as a Manager from the Heart is to:

  1. support my staff,
  2. defend my staff,
  3. facilitate resolution with the other manager, and
  4. exercise my power to make sure my staff is not abused again.

Two examples of this

1)  The company was growing and my staff was being asked to provide services that were stretching my department very thin.  My reps were responsible for servicing customers at a number of different branches on a regular, set schedule.  Several branch managers had begun asking my reps to “just stop by” their branch for special appointments even though it wasn’t the reps scheduled day.  My reps were happy to accommodate whenever possible, but within a matter of a few weeks my reps were spending more time driving to and from branches than they were meeting with customers. The economics at that time did not justify bringing on additional sales reps.

At times, reps would be late or had to reschedule these appointments and would catch flack from the branch managers.  The situation had devolved to where the regular schedule for branch coverage was being completely disregarded by the branch managers.  What had began as an added courtesy for the branches had become expected by the managers. The reps were being stretched to their limits, but felt like if they said anything the branch managers would question their dedication to servicing the branches’ customers.

After observing the situation first hand and asking my reps for feedback, I established proper guidelines of coverage and conveyed to my reps the importance of staying within a set schedule.

I then met with each branch manager individually and explained the importance of proper coverage and how the new schedule would ensure that.  I also explained that any appointments made outside of the new schedule would have to be directed through and approved by me.  I then made it perfectly clear by assertively, not aggressively, informing each manager that any problems they may have with any of my reps are to be addressed to me and not my reps.  I explained that my department has one purpose – to service them, but from now on, anyone who verbally abuses any of my reps will deal with me and upper management.

2)  I had one rep which spoke Spanish and she found herself driving to several branches a day to speak with customers, which spoke only Spanish.  We were excited about this growing market.  Her bilingual talent kept her very busy, but she was beginning to be stretched very thin.  She was in high demand among the branch managers but felt like she was being pulled in too many directions at once.  At the time, one rep would be able handle all the appointments, if they didn’t have to spend most of their time in their car.

I decided that she could properly service her customers but only if she saw each of these customers at the branch to which she was assigned.  She had already thought of this solution option herself, but was concerned how it would be interpreted if she mentioned it to the branch managers.  Branch managers began sending their Spanish speaking clients to her assigned branch for her particular services and were still credited with the business initiated by my rep.

By taking action, I immediately stabilized both situations and relieved my reps of stress.  Everyone was now on the same page of what was to be expected and how things would be conducted.  Each situation could have become a real stumbling block to effectivity and future growth. In the end everyone won, the customers, the branches, and the reps.  I also won.  By demonstrating my willingness to go to war for my reps, I developed a trust and loyalty, which inspired my staff to be willing to go to war for me.

b)  Protecting my staff in dealings with upper management.

When protecting my staff in dealing with upper management, I must be willing to fall on my sword.  I must take the blow for my staff – and why not, ultimately it is my responsibility anyway.  Many traditional managers will shift blame to their employees.  Though they may come to expect it, employees still don’t like being thrown to the wolves.  A manager may save his ass in the short run, but he will suffer the consequences of his betrayal over time.

When staff does not have the protection or support of their manager, they learn to cover their own ass.  This produces an “us verses them” mentality and destroys motivation, trust, and loyalty.  The manager ends up with a department of job-minded, clock watchers.  Since this manager’s focus is his department’s bottom line, it will suffer, which means the manager will suffer.

A Manager from the Heart’s focus is on his purpose, which is to produce long-term sustainable results.  The department’s bottom line is important but only as it pertains to fulfilling the purpose.  By protecting and supporting his staff, he inspires self-motivation, trust, and loyalty.  Believe me, staff knows when a manager is called on the carpet and takes the blow for them.  Word travels – and it travels fast.  Whether the manager sells them out or takes the blow, staff know and react accordingly.

Supporting staff isn’t just protecting them in times of trouble.  It’s also advocating, promoting, and fighting for them.  I want to make sure my staff get what they need to fulfill their functions and goals, and I must be willing to go to war for them if necessary.  I must also be willing to negotiate and mediate with upper management over policies and procedures, injunctions and decrees, mandates and precepts which negatively affect my employees.

In Open Heaven, staff know that I am working for them, watching their backs, and looking out for problems before they happen.  And they know that I will fight for their well-being.  This allows them to feel secure and leaves them free to conduct their business.

-excerpt from “Monitoring the Pulse of Your Workplace”

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February 28, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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