Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Making my staff feel safe in coming to me.

Make your office a “home.” This is the first step in creating an environment in which an employee can feel safe and comfortable in coming to you.  If my office is impersonal and sterile, the employee will be impersonal and sterile and they will find it difficult to believe me when I demonstrate compassion or concern.  This hinders the bonding process and keeps the employee in “Authority Mentality.”

Most managers have their office situated with their desk (usually as large as they can get) in the back of the room and facing the door.

This configuration of furniture is called the “Throne and Court” office and divides the room with an implied me and you attitude.  It signifies just who is in authority here and who here is inferior.

Unfortunately, this only makes any staff member immediately feel guarded and apprehensive about sharing anything of their ideas, opinions, needs, or wants.  It shuts down the lines of open communication.

There can be no “relationship” between staff and this manager, and as a result, this manager will be the last one to know anything about what is really going on in his own department.

Another mistaken display of authority most traditional managers utilize are testaments to self-importance.

  • Diplomas, Awards, Certificates of Achievements, Appreciation Plaques, pictures of self with celebrities, etc., adorning the walls and mantle.
  • Trophies and other “Badges of Honor”
  • Pictures of the manager’s toys

Many managers decorate their office as a shrine to themselves.  Sadly, while basking in the luster of their own greatness, this manager is also distancing himself from the very people who made it possible for him to have an office.

I remember how awkward and uncomfortable I always felt when standing in someone else’s shrine.  I don’t ever want my staff to feel awkward or uncomfortable in my office unless I purposely plan on making them that way.

If I plan to make my office a home, then why not make it homelike.

The first thing I want to do is rearrange the furniture.  By butting my desk up against a side wall, it forces me to turn my chair around to pay attention to my most valuable asset.

I make sure my chair is no higher and no different than the three or four other chairs in the room. I have chairs placed around a small, but practical, coffee table which allows my “guests” to set their folders, drinks, or whatever they may need to set down in order to free their hands and feel comfortable.

I have no testimonials to my “greatness” adorning my walls.

NOTE: (keep all diplomas, certificates, awards, etc., handy in a binder.  There will be times when some pain-in-the-ass upstart will question your qualifications.)

I have no nameplate on my desk (if my “guest” doesn’t already know my name then I need to ask myself, “Why haven’t I made this person a raving fan yet?”).

I further decorate my second home with nick-knacks, figurines, or trinkets which are personal but don’t trumpet my greatness.  I am very careful not to clutter but to keep it simple.

A good rule of thumb is: if I wouldn’t want it in my primary home, I don’t want it in my second home.

In this setting, I am just another employee sitting around the coffee table in someone’s home.  We are all equal.

– excerpt from “The Manager as Engineer of the Workplace”


November 8, 2011 Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment