This week's question...
Got any special advice about supervising staff, especially male staff? I am finding that I approach things too personally but when I pull back and deal in strictly business, the criticism is that I am controlling. Some might use the "b" word behind my back. So they want me to be strong and hold this staff accountable but then accuse me of being picky or micro-managing, etc.
Crimson Rambler was our sole respondent:
First response to this situation would be – if you are the person in charge, then you set the tone and the tempo of your conversations and interactions, and stick to it. Be clear about expectations. Be positive. Be prompt in response with either praise or correction.
Some other observations. First, a story. The summer when I was a deacon left in charge of the parish in the HOS’s vacation time, a very senior visiting clergyman came to officiate at a wedding – and was rude to our secretary while making the arrangements beforehand. I didn’t witness it, but the secretary noted it in conversation. I spent most of a WEEK dithering about my response – and whether I’d respond at all. Finally came a moment of insight. “I am the Person in Charge; and if I don’t interpose between my staff and this kind of unpleasantness, if I don’t defend her, then I have no ground to stand on to expect her to do what I ask her to do.” So on that basis, I tackled Rev. Rude – and he growled at ME, true, but I survived the growling – and he apologized to our secretary in writing.
When I shared the story with the military branch of my family, I was quite surprised to find out that my epiphany was not a new discovery: “that’s an OLQ! You demonstrated an OLQ! [Officer-Like Quality].” From there the conversation went to an appreciation of On War by Karl von Clausewitz. On my bookshelf, he’s the Third Karl – next to Barth and Rahner. All you need to know about healthy and effective leadership and command in ANY context is there…maintenance of morale (concrete and specific praise), lines of communication (CLARITY), lines of supply (make sure they have what they need to do their work), command and control (beginning, as always, with command and control of oneself).
Highly recommended reading. If it seems an impossibly macho project, take heart, the general gave the lectures; but his devoted wife wrote the book from his notes.
That said, I still haven’t found anything that establishes the right kind of authority more readily than protecting your staff from mistreatment. It works enormously well with volunteers also, by the way. When people know that the Old Lady, or the Old Man, has their back…they perform better, more confidently, and much more happily. You may still be a “b” in their minds, but you’re THEIR ‘b”.
Part of the work of the shepherd…is to deal with the coyotes when they show up.
Word! Now let's open the conversation wider...share your experiences and insights below.
May you live in God's amazing grace+