Question: “After my supervisor retired, I was promoted to fill his position. He had a special arrangement with one employee, allowing her to come in early and leave early. No one knew exactly what time she arrived. When the owner promoted me, he said I must put this woman on the same schedule as everyone else. However, I’m not sure how to approach her. How can I fix this without losing the employee?” —Caught in the Middle
Marie’s Answer: Like many new supervisors, you’re suffering from “imposter syndrome.” Because you don’t yet feel like a manager, some basic supervisory tasks seem rather daunting. Here’s how to handle this one:
• Your boss has made his expectations clear, so you must tell the employee that different work hours are no longer allowed. You can attribute this directive to the owner, but you need to explain and support his decision.
• Here’s what you might say: "I know you had a special arrangement with our former supervisor. But since varying schedules create confusion, the owner wants everyone to work the same hours. I’ll need for you to start coming in at 9 and staying till 5."
• If the employee complains, remind her that this is the standard work schedule. If she has unique and unavoidable circumstances, consider discussing them with the owner.
• Give her a week to adjust child care or transportation plans, and then monitor her hours to be sure she complies. If she refuses, talk with the owner about the next steps.
Unless this woman has irreplaceable abilities, don’t worry about losing her. If she chooses to leave, you’ll simply find someone who can work the required hours.
To see a 6-step process for handling disciplinary issues, check out How to Resolve Serious Performance Problems.
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