Dear Bill: At Easter I came home to visit and read your article on, Why Employees Get Upset, which was interesting and informative. Three of points mentioned in the article were totally applicable to me, in my previous job.I worked in the oil industry as a land management consultant and we had 20 employees. My supervisor had 10 people like me and the atmosphere was sometimes unbearable. She was controlling, jealous of others, never encouraged us, always critical and never asked us for any suggestions. I mention this because, I now have a new job in a one of the biggest oil companies in the world, doing similar work and my supervisor is completely opposite of my previous boss. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with older people not knowing how to deal with younger people, like me, because my new boss is in her 50's and my previous boss was 35.My question to you is this.Why is there such a difference in supervision style? Poor supervision can lead to discontent, stress, reduced performance and generally an unhealthy environment.
Dear Confused: You have identified an issue that if resolved, would make someone a rich person. From my experience, there is a difference between managers and leaders. Perhaps your previous boss was tough to work for because she had issues at home, at work, but more importantly and in my opinion, was insecure in her position. Insecurities come from many areas, such as lack of knowledge, skill and low self-esteem.
I will list eight characteristics identified by Daniel Goleman, an author on this topic, what the differences are between managers and leaders.
Managers have subordinates; Leaders have followers
Managers seek stabilities; Leaders seek change
Managers manage work; Leaders lead people
Managers administer programs; Leaders develop people
Managers control; Leaders empower
Managers are reactive; Leaders are proactive
Managers use authority; Leaders use influence
Managers instruct; Leaders inspire
It is important to note that every leader and manager demonstrates varying levels of all or most of these characteristics depending on the situation, complexity and the person. You can pick out from the above list which characteristics apply to your previous and present supervisors. From my experience as a manager, I had to sometimes manage and other times lead. For those in authority the question becomes when to manage and when to lead. Knowing the difference will improve work environments, productivity, reduce stress loads for everyone and create an atmosphere where people want to come to work, be productive and motivated.
My final comments are, those in authority should educate themselves informally and or formally in working with and motivating people. There is a definite need for this education. Managers' success to a great extent is dependent on them knowing the difference between when to manage and when to lead, all in the same day with the same or different person. A tough job, however, if one remains open and communicates to staff regularly, the management job is easier, providing a less stressful environment for everyone, especially for the manger.
For you, I hope this information provides you with an understanding, why there is a difference in supervisors. Hopefully your previous boss gets educated and/or at least reads something similar to this article. If you are unfortunately enough to work under someone like your previous boss in the future, hopefully this article provides you with enough information to give you insight on how to cope.
Thanks for the comment and the question. BillSend your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . All mail will be kept confidential.