dcohen at cs.pitt.edu
Thu Jun 22 16:51:32 EST 1995
Allison Treloar writes:
>As for women supervising men...you *must* accept that men just deal
>with situations differently then women do.
>In my own experience, there are 4 basic tenents for supervising
I've never been a boss, (but I've worked for some :-), and I'd
like to add some comments to this list, which I think would
have helped some unpleasant management situations.
>1. Your people must respect you (they don't have to like you, but it's
>a plus of course.).
I think this is a place where a lot of women have a hard time
achieving balance. I have worked for several women bosses, and
I have observed some common themes here. Often a woman boss is
kind of torn between wanting to be a friend and nice, nurturing
leader on the one hand, and wanting to be a *boss* on the other
hand. Personally, I really like this style, and have gotten
along really well with my bosses who have exhibited it. However,
I have also observed that for the most part, it drove the other
people who worked for them crazy -- I think they felt that they
didn't know how to respond to the boss, as a friend or as a
worker, and so resented the friend for making demands and the boss
for intruding in their lives. It also drove the bosses
themselves slightly crazy -- they were frequently neurosing
about why, since they were being so nice to their staff, the
staff weren't reciprocating by overworking.
I don't know why, but I haven't observed this kind of behavior
on the part of men bosses. Even those that I have really liked
on a personal level seem to have always remained very much the
boss, and did not try to be a friend or father to their staff.
Not that they weren't friendly or concerned...maybe just that
they kept the issues apart.
>2. Treat everyone evenhandedly, have respect for their outside life,
>and stick to your own rules.
Don't chew them out in front of other people. This is
humiliating for the person who is being scolded and
embarrassing/demoralizing for the people who are listening to
it. And it leads to great resentment, which is unproductive
in the long run. If you've got something to scold someone about,
do it behind closed doors, unless it is about a mistake that
*everyone* makes, and everyone should learn from it.
And don't set people up against each other. Some bosses (I've
seen this in both male and female) seem to believe in the
divide-and-conquer approach. The pattern seems to be
suck-up to one employee, gain his/her confidence, get info
about the other, and repeat on the other. Another pattern
is complaining about one employee to another. I know this is
a temptation, when one employee seems more responsible/helpful/
understanding/hardworking than another, but this is a serious
conflict of interest. It gives an employee inappropriate power
over others, without the accountability of being a boss.
It is also embarrassing to the employee, and may also make
them wonder what the boss is saying about them to other people.
Also, bosses who do this don't seem to realize that the
employees share this information among themselves, and sometimes
hold it agains the boss.
Then there is the Teacher's Pet syndrome.
Don't put 100% faith in anyone, especially to the point
where if it is that person's word against someone else's, you
automatically believe that person. I've seen otherwise good
bosses dogmatically follow their "pet", even when everyone else
could tell that the "pet" was wrong or not as good as the boss
thought. I believe that this arises when the boss is too busy to
make all decisions, and leaves a lot up to the "right hand man".
It is ok to rely on such a person, so long as you are willing to
put some serious thought into things, when another person has a
difference of opinion with the "pet". If you don't do this, the
other employees feel that they are just tools, and are not
expected to carry out their duties thoughtfully. Also, you
may figure out on your own that the "pet" is not so great as
you thought, and this can be a *big* psychological let-down.
I've seen it happen.
>3. Let your people know exactly what is expected of them. This is
>something that is not commonly done in academia except in a really
>broad sense (more of a research goal really). People need very
>specific, reachable and *written* goals. Periodic review of progress
>gives you a handle on problems early and gives your people a sense of
Decide whether your criterion for judging performance is that
the person works for X hours per day or that the person
accomplishes tasks A, B, C.
I have known bosses who are unhappy when they see their employees
working fewer than the maximum number of hours per week worked by
any employee, even though their employees are accomplishing all
their tasks. Bosses in academia are particularly prone to this,
and I think it is extremely unfair. Especially when they want
people to come in weekends or stay late. It breeds resentment from
the really good workers, who can do stuff fast. They figure,
"how come the others only have to do half of what I do? If I
have to put in the same hours I'll just take my time about
stuff". It is good to challenge the good ones, but not to the
extent that they feel penalized -- they should feel some benefit
of being good.
>4. Document, document, document. This will cover your behind in case
>things turn sour. It doesn't have to be extensive - just an objective
>synopsis of whatever happened - good or bad. You'll need something to
>back up promotions or firings sooner or later.
Just my observations.
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