I can remember, fairly early on in my career listening over a radio scanner of what seemed to be a supervisor pleading with a worker to do something for him. I remember thinking, why are you pleading with this person to do what you asked, with what seemed to be his responsibility in the first place? I recall being angry thinking that behavior was even tolerated, and could not understand why the supervisor even allowed himself to be in that position. How could you allow yourself as a supervisor to get to that position in the first place?

Fast forward 25 years later to a point at which yours truly is in a similar position, but not at the point of pleading subordinates to do what is asked of them. I fortunately have a pretty good crew for the most part. Sure I have a few that are useless princesses, a few with bad attitudes, and a few that constantly complain. Now you would think those are indeed problems, and while I agree with you, that's not the source problem. Each one of those employees has been spoken to, by yours truly on more than one occasion. Now I know you’re thinking "it’s not working", and I would again agree with you on that. So now we have arrived at a point of identifying the root cause of the problem. It is always important to get to the root cause, identify it, address it, and resolve it, right? Not so fast. What if the root cause was the only person in the agency that has the authority to formally counsel, hire, and ultimately fire staff?

So now we have arrived at my dilemma by identifying the root cause of the problem, you guessed it, the director. While he is a nice enough guy, he clearly has no skills to handle people. Now don't misunderstand me, confrontation is never really enjoyable and can be stressful, but at what cost would you go to avoid it?

I am a supervisor in an agency that has a director that does not meet the needs of his staff, or ultimate support his supervisor. A supervisors responsibility is to address those little fires that popup in any organization and extinguish them promptly, all while keeping morale and the agency moving in a positive direction. When that supervisor finds his or her techniques not being effective, or just ignored by staff, it is time to go to the director and get his or her support and put things in writing which will either correct the insubordinate employee, or ultimately remove them from the workplace. Ideally we always want to change the mindset and attitude of employees and get them back in the game. But sometimes the employee doesn't want to change, or they just don't perform as needed and need to be let go. In the ideal work environment that is.

But what happens when the director, or leader of an organization, one whose responsibility deals directly with an employee’s employment status, fails to enforce the rules and regulations? The system quickly begins to break down and employees begin to do what they want, when they want without fear of repercussion. This is when you see grown adults begin to act like children, and your supervisor is all but useless, and relies on staff to comply with any request he or she may have and need. As a supervisor you can and should do as much as you can to empower your employees to get them to buy in to the agency, and take pride in the product they put out. When you have this instilled in them, you will have a better advantage over them when top management fails, than say the supervisor heard at the beginning of this rant.

So why am I writing about this? If I can reach just one director or supervisor with what I have said, and it helps them identify a problem in their organization, than the purpose of this rant has been fulfilled. A director or head of an organization needs to address those brush fires that a supervisor brings to you when staff does not listen to him or her.

Your supervisor is your tool that at times will need your help. You, as a director or leader should do everything you can for that supervisor when they reach out to you. You need to meet their needs.

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