Personality clash Featured

9:44am EDT July 22, 2002
Dear H. R. Manager:

I have a production supervisor who runs a tight ship and gets product out the door on a timely basis. That’s good for business. He gets results but is not popular with employees. That’s not good for morale. We’ve discussed his people skills during his reviews and he improves for a short time, only to eventually revert back to his old ways. How can I get through to him?

Wanting It Both Ways

Dear Wanting It Both Ways:

You don’t mention anything about sending him for leadership or communications training. A key to change is education. People must see things for themselves. In addition to training, I recommend two assessment tools to help your supervisor learn more about himself and how he comes across to other people.

Contact an industrial psychologist and request that your supervisor be given the 16F Personality Profile. The other tool to evaluate his performance and effectiveness as a leader is the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI:Self), available from Jossey-Bass (800) 274-4434.

The self-knowledge that your supervisor gains from these assessments will enable him to develop an action plan to model exemplary leadership behaviors that will have a positive impact on the employees. As your supervisor demonstrates better people skills, be sure to give him some positive feedback.

And, a word to the wise: Make sure your corporate culture doesn’t emphasize results at any cost. Finally, if this problem persists, inform this supervisor that his lack of people skills may be injurious to his pocketbook and his career growth with your company.

Dear H. R. Manager:

I am the general manager of a small manufacturing company (75 employees). The inspector of one of my product lines has had several lengthy occurrences of absenteeism. They are supported by a physician’s statement, but the absenteeism is hurting the business. With the Family Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, I feel stuck.

Stuck in Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Dear Stuck:

You are wise to consider the legal ramifications of this situation. First, you must examine the employee’s attendance records to determine which occurrences qualify for leave under the FMLA and the ADA. A compliance officer from the Department of Labor can counsel you on the FMLA. Likewise, a compliance officer from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can counsel you on the ADA.

Use your employer’s right to a second medical opinion as part of the medical certification process. Make sure you have an attendance policy in place that provides specific attendance standards, along with a corrective-coaching process so that both employees and managers know the company’s expectations.

Document all action and discussion relative to an employee’s attendance in the event termination of employment becomes a reality. And, by all means cross-train other employees who can fill in for this absent employee.

Should this employee’s health stabilize, cross-train him or her as well, perhaps in a less critical position. Almira Hercl, a former HR director, is president of Human Resource Solutions, which assists companies in improving organizational effectiveness through management of their number one asset, people. To obtain professional advice on those difficult-to-deal-with personnel problems that can be organizational barriers, write Ask the H.R. Manager, c/o SBN, at