Personal Consulting and Coaching

Candor verses employee dignity

Never once have I had a supervisor say to me something like, “I don’t give a hoot about my employee’s dignity.” Even the aggressively tone deaf ones know enough not to be intentionally guilty of such a fundamental faux pas.

Still, those bad moments happen all the time. Why? Usually it’s an unplanned, unscripted, in-the-moment conversation about a work problem. Some supervisors pride themselves on their candor or directness, see being that way as an asset, and actively resist anything that inhibits their ability to say what’s on their mind.

They should stop resisting.

The workplace is different. Conversations between supervisors and employees are supposed to be about the work, not have an undercurrent of judgment and personal power (the relentless pissing contest that characterizes so much of human interaction.) Pushed by deadlines, supervisors can be frustrated, impatient, even dismissive of the individuals who bring problems to them. And sometimes supervisors can be made defensive by an aggressive employee. But nothing justifies a supervisor breaking ranks with the basic obligation to be focused, professional, civil, and in “problem solving” mode.

Shaun Kieran

(207) 767-3864

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