6 Steps to Turn Around a Demeaning Supervisor

Office politics and interactions have a defined hierarchy and “pecking order.” The managers of the office are the top staff for that particular office or branch and need to set an example of proper behavior through their actions. This is done to bring the employees up to a high standard and ensure all office interactions are done with respect, diligence and professionalism. It is a highly effective means to achieving office harmony when the manager acts in such fashion. But what happens when the manager is demeaning to the employees? This reduces morale, encourages unhealthy talk and gossip and erodes the employees’ desire to work to their best possible level. To combat a demeaning manager there are six steps to be taken that help guide the offending supervisor back into proper behavior and office professionalism.

1. Approach the Manager Head-On

A good example is to act as you would want the manager to act. When problems such as demeaning and condescending behavior occur on the part of the manager, confront it head-on as soon as it is known. Do this in private so as not to erode the relationships the manager has with the employees. Direct and assertive statements such as, “some issues regarding your behavior have recently come to our attention. It is our hope that we can discuss this and get you back on track” are the best ways of approaching the delicate situation. Remember, do not be demeaning or condescending to the manager. Lead by example by being direct, respectful and honest.

2. Get the Manager’s Confirmation

Once the first direct statements regarding the manager’s behavior have been given, look to the manager to ensure he/she understands what has been said and why it has been said. This is the “confirmati0n” step of the process. To keep things above board and the company protected, have a document prepared that says the same things as have been said and have the manager sign off, saying they understand the situation and are ready to undergo the necessary procedures to defray and correct the behavior. This is a contract for office behavior and protects everyone involved. The details are up to the company and its HR policies, but always get the signature and everything on paper.

3. Assign Corrective Tasks and Probationary Time Periods

Have another document prepared that gives real-time expectations and goals. Go through the steps the manager needs to do in order to correct the behavior. Speak directly, honestly and without accusation. Remember, this is about leading by example and giving another chance. The manager has undergone expensive training and time with the company and the goal is to retain the manager, not release him/her from the company. Once the entire process and goals have been covered, have the manager sign the document and contract. Once again, this protects all involved and sets a concrete time-line and set of goals for the manager. Make sure nothing is vague; keep it clear and concise.

4. Review Periods

Establish review periods where HR will review the manager’s behavior compared to the contracts and prior digressions. Bring the manager into the process by having peer review sessions and interviews to ascertain their views on how they are doing. Record everything and make sure to have all those at the review sessions sign off on all agreed assessments and changes. The purpose here is not to frighten the manager, but rather, to ensure they are on the path to corrective behavior. When necessary, have the manager’s employees provide anonymous reviews of the manager’s behavior. Gaither as much information as possible and notate any positive or negative changes in the manager’s behavior in the office.

5. Grade and Notate

Establish a grading method that can give a numeric value to the manager’s changing behavior (examples include having a set of criteria going from one to 10). This may be done in private or internally with the HR department. Once the grading and notations are made, make copies and place them into the manager’s permanent file. For negative grades, contact the manager and inform him/her of the grade. Give them adequate time to make the needed changes. For each document provided to the employee get their signature so it is recorded and they have been made aware of the grading results.

6. Final Review

After the established time period and behavior changes have been made, call the manager into the office and go over the entire review. Should the manager accomplish everything the contract stipulated, give the manager the go-ahead that he/she is off probation and back to normal. Again, be sure to get signatures on everything and be direct, honest and matter-of-fact. If the manager has not accomplished the contractual goals and it appears the manager must be terminated, be prepared with the needed legal documents and authorization. This should be an absolute last-chance option.

The goal is to retain trained managers. Doing this with a manager who has patterns of demeaning or condescending behavior means offering chances to correct the poor actions and make the necessary changes to their office persona so that the business runs smooth and without poor morale. Always lead by example and be direct and clear.