When dealing with a new boss, “confront” is a dangerous word to use.
Q: Recently, a new manager was transferred to our store from a different location. “Gwen” apparently wants everything to be just like it was at her previous workplace. Instead of trying to understand how we do things here, she has turned the place upside down with one change after another.
The employees constantly complain that they can’t keep up with all these changes. Morale is at an all-time low, and customer service is declining. I would like to help solve this problem, but I’m not sure what to do. Should I confront Gwen and let her know how everyone feels?
A: When dealing with a new boss, “confront” is a dangerous word to use. Even if Gwen’s changes are misguided, an adversarial approach will only damage your relationship with her. New managers always have fresh ideas, and they tend to regard critics as obstructive and resistant to change.
Nor should you volunteer to “let her know how everyone feels,” because that will make you look like a rabble-rouser. If the whole group is upset, then the whole group needs to discuss the problem. The key, however, is not to focus on feelings, but to explain the business issue.
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For example: “Gwen, we want you to know that we appreciate the experience you bring from your previous store. However, learning so many new procedures at once has been difficult and has slowed our service to customers. Do you think we could have a meeting to review all the changes, then wait a few weeks before making any more?”
If your concerns are presented in a supportive, helpful manner, Gwen might actually listen. But if you begin criticizing her leadership style, you will only start an argument that you are undoubtedly going to lose.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.