Advice on Managing an Employee?

I’m about to start a new job that I’m really excited about in 2 weeks.

However, the job includes supervision of two people - one permanent employee and one summer employee. The summer employee has been around for a bit and has the full confidence of my new boss, so I’m not too worried.

The permanent employee applied for the position I’m going to fill and was probably a bit miffed that she didn’t get it.

Any advice for how best to enter this situation on the right foot?
The only experience I have supervising people is a couple teaching aides a few years ago - a very different thing.

Congradulations wevets!

That could be a sticky situation if you don’t handle it right, but it will really depend on what type of person that other employee is.

My advice is to be straight up and speak to her about it. Trying to hide it, or not acknowledge it will only make things more uncomfortable. Make her your partner in the success of the business, and not someone who just follows your orders.

If it were me, I would say (something like) the following “Hey, I just wanted to talk to you about our getting hired, and me being picked as your boss. We’re both new to this company and have to learn the ropes. I am dedicated to makeing this business a success but also to us having fun doing it. I want you to be my partner in this and work with me in having fun while working hard and really making this place a great place to work. What do you think? Can I count on you?”

FYI I used to be a retail manager for a dozen years with up to 8 staff reporting to me. Toward the end I had 0% turnover in a one year period by really giving them power in their jobs. (you can’t just mouth the words ‘team effort’ for people to think they make a difference).

The best book on management I have ever found is Maverick and I highly reccomend everyone who is a boss, (or has a boss) read it. Since I discovered it, I have given a copy to every boss I have had since… and to their boss as well.

Good Luck

Agree with EarthStone on talking to the other person and being clear about the situation and your expectations.

General tip: “Please” and “thank you” really are magic words.

When the person you’re supervising does a good job on something – whether it’s a routine task or a major project – let him or her know that. Feedback is great – and make sure you praise as much as you criticize.

I just read this thread title as ‘Advice on Mangling an Employee?’

I have to disagree with this. Saying “please” and “thank you” constantly is a very feminine style of management. It usually comes from a desire to not be percieved as a “bitch” or “shrew” while in a position of authority. It also has the effect of giving people the impression that you are asking them to do a favor instead of completing an assignment.

This will leave your subordinate with the impression that you are an insecure manager, full of shit, or an naive imbecile. (Note that I am not insulting you, it’s just the impression I would get if any manager said that.)

YOU are new to the company. The permenant employee has already learned the ropes. They don’t care about being your “partner”, they are pissed about being passed over for promotion. A better approach would be (assuming it becomes an issue, which it may not) saying something like:

“I understand that you have worked here for awhile and were interested in this position as well. I welcome your feedback and would like to give you as much responsibility as you can handle. I would like to eventually see you move ahead in this group once you are ready, but I think it is important that you understand that I am responsible for this team and ultimately in charge. I hope this will not be a problem for you.”

This statement is better for a number of reasons. It signifies that YOU are in charge (which you are). It is a partnership only insofar as you are welcoming of feedback and discussion, but at the end of the day YOU are the one making decisions. I believe it is a failure of management to not lead and allow the team to take it’s own direction. Without the strong leadership of a person who was placed in charge due to their experience and ability, it becomes rule based on the strongest and most influential personality - which may or may not be the most competant.

People don’t really need a lot of empty platitudes and bullshit pep talks. What you want is do is treat people with respect and honesty. They want strong, effective competant leadership, not a nursemaid or a buddy.

If I understand the OP correctly, the permanent employee already works in the company. So he’s been passed over and the official reason he’s been given is probably not the real reason.

I’ve been in that permanent employee’s place. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but the official reason I was given for having to go through the exact same process as external candidates (instead of them saying “hell yeah, she’s already been doing her boss’s job so let’s give her the pay”) was that they wanted to look for someone with more experience. The real reason was that since my just-laterally-promoted ex-boss had done some shitty manoeuvers to get what he wanted, upper management needed to make sure that the whole thing didn’t smell too evidently.

Then they hired someone with less experience but whose gonads happen to be external to his body. Wonderful - not, but what really got me and the other weekend-shift tech (both of us being the most qualified techs) was that he made no move to work with us. She worked weekend and tuesdays: he had to take a course to get up to speed with the kind of stuff I was doing, and it was on tuesdays, so he didn’t meet her for over two months. He didn’t call her and ask “can you come in on another day, either instead of tuesday or just for coffee?”, he didn’t bother to drop by at shift-change time on a weekend so he’d meet her. He never asked any of us techs (2 weekend, 3 midweek) “how do you do things”.

Any of those would have been nice. Is he efficient? Yes. Could he do the job? Yes. What could he have done better? He could have talked with us, setting the basic relationship as “I am the boss but I am also conscious that right now you know more about this particular factory’s day to day work and products than I do, so I’m going to be asking questions and I’m open to suggestions.” He could have saved himself the loss of face that came with proposing some wonderful and neat and great idea that he’d just got in that course only to be told, “uh, boss, we already do that” (with accompanying show of proof, it’s QC so every time someone sneezes it gets documented).

Of course, if he didn’t mean it, that cute little speech would have been worthless.

Asking the person who hired you why did they choose you over the internal candidate should give you a good idea how to deal with that particular mine.

I agree with mssmith537 that saying please and thankyou all the time seems like asking a favor, although I disagree that it’s percieved as ‘feminine’. I think it more stems from being insecure with your position.

I may have missed the idea that the other employee had already learned the ropes. I was under the impression that they had both applied for the management position and one was hired as boss and the other as full time. Re-reading the OP, I could see it either way so I’m not sure what the case is. That would change the wording of my statement somewhat, but not the intent.

Regardless… I only somewhat disagree with msmith537 and think I didn’t explain myself fully and thus she may not disagree with me as much as she thinks…

100% agree that people don’t want/need ‘empty platitudes or bullshit peptalks’. I’ve been subject to them from managers for decades and they’ve never done anything but waste both our time spent, which is why I stated that you can not just mouth the words ‘team effort’ and have it make a difference. BUT there is a vast difference between that and really building a team of employees dedicated to the business, especially where the manager in question is only in charge of one full time and one part time employee.

A top manager, who is in charge of managers, should call the shots and direct the business just like you say. But a bottom manager who is in charge of part timers and full timers who are probably only there for the paycheck and could likely care less about the company, that manger usually has a list of orders from above, and has few important decisions to make about how things are done. To many of these bottom managers think they need to establish their authority and bark out orders like a drill sargent without listening to or caring about what their employees might have to say or contribute.

When I talked about making your employees your partner in the sucess of the business, there are ways to go about it that don’t mean you are “an insecure manager, full of shit, or an naive imbecile”. It means that you, as the boss, decide what needs to be done but instead of just giving orders to your employees, you explain it to them, help them to realise WHY it needs to be done, and let them help decide HOW to do it. For example, I would say to my staff “We need to accomplish tasks A, B, and C today because it will do X, Y, and Z for the store, while still waiting on all of our customers. We can either take our time and take all day getting them done, or we can bust @ss and get everything done early and take an extra coffee break in the afternoon. Who wants to do what job? I’ll take which ever one you don’t pick.”

By explaining the Whats and Whys of the business they feel more important and more importantly feel like I trust them and that they can help make the buisiness a success. They take pride in their work and they increase their personal responsibility to the success of the company.

As I said, I have used this very successfully in the retail feild where most of my employees were highschool and college students who started out only caring about a paycheck and could care less about the company. Turnover for our stores was usually 50% a year (company wide standard with over 2000 stores), Once I took over a store, it decreased to 10-20% with one year at 0%. The staff was so well trained that I was able to spend two months covering another store when that manager quit and my staff stepped up and ran my store with hardly any problems on their own.

As I understand it, the OP and the permanent employee (PE) are both new hires. PE originally applied for OP’s job, but was given (and she accepted) a lower level position. OP was given the supervisor’s job.

I would discuss it in the manner that EarthStone777 said. And btw, I like being told please and thank you!

twickster, just wanted to say that although I disagree with saying please and thank you all the time (sometimes it’s appropriate), I totally agree on giving feedback all the time.

Depending on how much I work directly with an employee, I would give feedback usually on a daily basis. At the least on a weekly basis for those who covered shifts when I wasn’t around. If you can’t find something good that someone has done at least once a week, either they are a lousy employee or you are a lousy boss. Whenever giving critical feedback, I would find something good to say as well. Most importantly it has to be Authentic! Not something said just to say it. (see my earlier comments about just mouthing the words) Being a good boss takes effort and work (at least at first) until you get used to doing it.

(not having children myself) I suspect it’s like being a parent. At first its scary and difficult and you always have to double check yourself and them to be sure everything is OK, but after a while you can keep tabs on them while half asleep and your back is turned and still know exactly what they are up to. All punishment comes with a hug and expression of love. (Do not try that literaly at work! … unless it’s a family business.)

I’m gonna defend “Please” and “thank you.”

I’m not suggesting that I’m reluctant to make assignments or do other bosslike things, or that I’m afraid of being disliked (I really couldn’t care less). I do, however, think that “Please go get me the Johnson file” sounds better than “Go get me the Johnson file.” And saying “thank you” when the Johnson file is gotten – also not a sign of weakness.

If a peer gives me an order without saying please, I bristle. Depending on my relationship with the person, I may or may not say “What’s the magic word?” Obviously, if a boss doesn’t use please, I don’t say anything – but I figure, if I notice and appreciate it, why wouldn’t others?

And on feedback – agree, if there’s nothing there worth genuine praise, there’s something wrong either with the employee or the job you’re doing working with that person.

I just go in and be the boss and not say a word aobut it. You both know what happened. When it comes time to make a decision, make a decision.

Be the boss in your own style. If your style is to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. If your style is to just say ‘get it done and don’t ask any questions’, then go in and say that.

I don’t believe there are any additional complications about them passing over the permanent employee for you. If the permanent employee wishes to remain employed, she will fill her role.

If she doesn’t, then she’ll make up excuses like, “wevets got hired because his gonads are external to his body.”

My boss (male) uses “please” and “thank you” and it doesn’t come across as “feminine” at all (whatever that means). I very much appreciate that he uses these courtesies, because I bristle at being ordered by anyone. He’s well respected by all his employees, and he’s one of the best managers I’ve had.

It’s not about coming across as “feminine”. In a management study, they observed that women managers tended to use “please” and “thank you” more often. There were other subtle differences in style, but that was what came to mind. Saying thank you is not a big deal. It’s natural to say “thanks” or something of that nature when you are handed something you have asked for.

You don’t have to acknowledge that the employee was passed over for this position. It’s not a bad thing to talk to her about it, but it’s not mandatory. If you were the boss and passed this employee over, it would be important to sit down with the employee and discuss with them why they didn’t get the promotion and what they could do to earn it in the future, and hopefully the previous manager did that. But that’s not your issue.

What is important is to earn and mandate the employee’s respect. Not their friendship, and that’s really what you’re doing if you focus on being passed up. Instead focus on what the tasks are and what people are doing.

I say please and thank you all the time and I don’t think it’s a problem. Everyone who reports to me knows what’s expected, and when they don’t deliver, they know that too in no uncertain terms.

Sorry I wasn’t terribly clear in the OP.

I’m the only new hire; the permanent employee has been working there for a little less than a year now.

I did ask the Exec. Director about why she was passed over, and I can understand the reasons; so far I’m unsure how that will impact our working relationship.

Thanks to folks for your advice and experiences!

I’m particularly interested in Nava’s situation: how did it influence your later work under the supervision of this person?