I used to think I had a problem with authority in the workplace – the typical manager vs employee scenario. I was always questioning my supervisors about rules and why they were being enforced certain ways. Most of all, complaining with co-workers about how “Pete” had no idea what he’s doing and “Surely we could run this place much better” were staples of conversation during an eight-hour shift.
We’ve all been there. Complaining about managers is part of the team-building process, or so non-managers tell themselves. Personally, I believe that no workplace should have rules that exist only to showcase a person of leadership has more power than their employees.
Take for instance the “no shuttling rule” from my days as a Golf Cart Engineer (okay, I was just a cart boy). My main task in this job was to drive golf carts back to the barn, wash them and park them. It was a busy course, so this meant we would usually have two cart boys on duty most of the time. To efficiently complete our job, one person would shuttle the other back and forth until all carts were put away. The owner decided one day, out of the blue, we could no longer do this and only one cart boy was to be on staff at all times.
The job became twice as hard, 50 percent less efficient and 100 percent more boring. It didn’t make sense. This was one of the rare instances I look back on and think I really knew the job better than my superiors.
Now that I’ve been a manager and had to enforce duties and new rules from management above me, I realize that neither side of the equation is perfect and that there are struggles both ways. For example, as a manager, it’s my responsibility to ensure communication is clear, that employees feel valued and that I help rather than hinder job performance. If I can’t deliver, I know that my employees may feel the need to jump ship, leaving the company in a difficult position of having to source and hire.
HR influencer and thought leader Dr. John Sullivan believes that failing to deliver on promises may provoke unwanted change within the team and through his thorough research, has found five ways to identify when an employee is about to quit – basically gold for hiring managers and leaders. Factors range from the position itself (Is it a high-turnover position?) to checking to see if an employee has updated their LinkedIn profile.
I realized that if any of my managers had used one of these five techniques in any of the jobs I left, there, more than likely, could have been some reconciliation. It’s not that I had a problem with authority but rather a problem with their poor communication and lack of understanding. These five techniques could have solved the manager vs employee conflict.
I’ve been on both sides of the manager-employee relationship and each has taught me something about the other. I’m happy to say that I think my younger self wouldn’t hate me as a manager, but my opinion is a little biased.
For those of you who have worked your way into a management role, is it everything you hoped for or do you sometimes feel like you joined the dark side? Let us know.
Alex Kilpatrick is the Marketing Communications Manager at interviewstream and has been with the company since 2018. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, traveling and spending time outdoors.