Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Leaders At All Levels Must Be on the Same Page

Photo Credit: Conflict

“I just left a meeting during which a manager told us to do something that was exactly the opposite of what our supervisor told us to do earlier. A co-worker pointed out the inconsistency and the manager said she “sets the rules”. After the meeting, our supervisor said “She’s not in our real world. We’ll do things the way we’ve always done them.” We feel stuck in the middle.   -  Benjamin

Confusion rules for employees and customers when leaders communicate inconsistent messages. Inconsistency results from disagreements on what or how things should get done and reflects a lack of communication. When managers are not on the same page, the result is tension and loss of employee morale. No doubt the grapevine is full of cynical comments about managers that are not too flattering! 

In this situation, the two managers should meet privately and attempt work through their differences. To get the ball rolling, ask to meet privately with your supervisor and describe the stress being caused by inconsistent messages. Then tactfully suggest that a meeting between the two managers would be a good idea.

Their disagreement may be symptomatic of more serious conflict. If so, a mediator may be required to assist the managers in reaching a resolution. A more senior manager could also step in to help the two leaders get on the same page.

Employees who are confused or upset don’t put their best effort forward with customers. If the situation is left to fester, the best employees will seek employment elsewhere.  As they leave, morale and customer service further deteriorate.

In the words of management guru, Peter Drucker, “Much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.” Practicing early intervention to resolve disagreements is essential to avoid long term damage to both employee and customer satisfaction.

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