Achieving two goals at once is a real challenge in personnel management: on the one hand, a manager must reach the results expected by the institution with the available workforce; and on the other hand, the manager must take care of their collaborators' well-being. Pursuing these dual aims calls for a real potential towards leadership. Why should a line manager care about the well-being of his/her supervisees? Is it not sufficient and satisfactory that the deliverables for which he/she is accountable come in time and within the budget?
The ethical challenge of managing the interests of the employer and of the employees cannot be left solely in the hands of HR, but requires all parties to contribute to a satisfactory compromise. Let us consider these dimensions with two examples:
- Luke is responsible for an important installation. He is stressed as he feels that there is barely enough time for all the work to be completed. He worries that his team may relax and so he starts pushing his supervisees to the limit. He has a hard time accepting a plan, which makes him feel that he will perhaps not be successful. Some of his requests are considered unrealistic; people begin to doubt his ability to withstand the pressure. Efficiency decreases and the situation grows conflicting.
- Stan believes he is a great leader as he often defends his supervisees. For him, the well being of his people takes precedence over goals. They work together in harmony but, as a consequence, results can be late. What then happens is that his collaborators feel that their own objectives have not been fulfilled and so they fear they will not receive wide recognition of their work. Such a situation also contains the seeds of a conflict: the workers develop doubts about their manager.
Of course a good leader will face both challenges at the same time: empowering his/her team so they can make it. Sometimes managers may feel alone when facing such challenges. A confidential discussion where they can express their problems in full confidence and without any risk of judgement may help. The Ombuds is here to provide an ear to these managers in such times.
The Ombuds' mission is to provide help to everyone; this, of course, includes managers. So, to managers, supervisors and leaders: do not hesitate in coming for a chat with the Ombuds. He will not tell you what to do, but in the confidential discussion you can be reassured that someone understands your challenge. You can then restart in a more confident and thus effective way.