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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 11, 2018 1:00 am

Manager or colleague?

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

During a recent conversation, a friend shared a philosophy that often categorizes key leadership approaches for those he has to supervise: manager or colleague.

He's been known to tell employees he can be either. The profile they get depends largely on the employee.

Managers have to regularly remind employees of basic responsibilities. 

Managers have to check in more frequently with employees because they often don't take initiative to provide updates. Employees might also lack confidence to make decisions or have other tendencies that won't allow a supervisor to be much at ease. That could be a signal, though, that the supervisor hasn't invested enough time in coaching and encouraging. 

Some employees complain about micromanagers – the ones always looking for details and updates. But I really believe that the majority of supervisors would prefer to be a colleague rather than a manager. They just need more employees willing to demonstrate they can perform without management.

Colleagues can supervise, providing feedback to improve or enhance. They have more time to develop and cast vision, trusting employees to return with a sound plan or options.

Colleagues don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time serving as the CRO – Chief Reminding Officer.

Colleagues can spend more time leading and then celebrating the successes with employees.

Manager or colleague. For employees who don't like the style of their boss, they might want to initiate some discussions with the supervisor on how roles and responsibilities can shift in their favor. They might find the supervisor would prefer a shift as well.

Office Valentines

Some sweethearts started their romance in the office, but if these relationships aren't handled well they sometimes cause headaches for supervisors.

Unsuccessful workplace courtships reportedly end in termination for at least one person 33 percent of the time, according to a survey conducted by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

“Many employers do not get involved in office relationships until something has gone wrong and the couple can no longer effectively work together. At that point, HR is left with limited options, most of which are unsatisfactory not only for the employee, but also for the company,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., said in a news release last week.

“Most options, including either engaging in litigation or firing or moving someone to another department, come with a considerable cost to the employer,” Challenger said.

More than 62 percent of HR executives said they have had to deal with a failed or inappropriate relationship at work. While one-third ended in at least one person's separation from the company, an additional17 percent of employers moved one party to a different department. Five percent of these failed relationships led to litigation, according to the Challenger survey.

The survey was conducted among 150 HR executives in January. 

Despite the potential for trouble, 27 percent of companies do not have any kind of policy, while 3 percent reported they do not care if their workers date one another. An additional 10 percent inform employees that relationships are frowned upon.

Nearly 70 percent of employers with policies do not allow relationships between a manager and an employee who reports directly to them, while 47 percent reported that they discourage manager-subordinate relationships, but do not interfere with relationships with workers from different departments. 

“Companies cannot and should not ban office romances altogether,” Challenger said. 

“In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, one task that falls to HR now more than ever is making sure that workplace relationships are safe and do not impact the overall culture of the office. Ensuring office romances are first and foremost consensual is extremely important,” he said.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at