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The Savvy Office Manager

Cal Butera is the editor of Business Management Daily’s Office Manager Today, Manager’s Legal Bulletin, Managing People at Work and Communication Briefings newsletters. He has been with Business Management Daily since 2007 and worked 22 years for midsize daily newspapers as sports writer, news reporter, layout and design editor, copy editor and city editor.

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What’s the hardest part about being a manager? Confrontation. Especially if you’re naturally averse to conflict.

Generally there are two types of rule-breakers: those who unwittingly break them (a quick reminder will set them straight); and those who knowingly break them (a tougher job for you). Here are some guidelines to deal with the latter.

If you want to keep your employees plugged into their jobs and coming into work with better ’tudes, you’re going to have to reinforce them somehow. But the question is, how? And when? And how much?

Employees expect decorum out of their managers, and are equipped with “decoders” to interpret a boss’s underlying meaning in their words. Those decoders often malfunction, painting you as an uncaring, bulldozing oaf, even though you’re not. (You’re not, right?)That leaves you with one recourse if you want avoid inadvertently sucking the wind out of a worker’s sail—unless that’s your goal. Be careful what you say.
Here are things that all workers seek in a workplace, and how those things rate on the “happy” meter.
Cornering an employee to address performance issues is an unpleasant but necessary part of your job. It is, in essence, a closed-door moment where you lay out the person’s shortcomings, give him or her a chance to explain and then agree to a course of action.
If you think about it, those hasty, canned responses to an underperforming employee are no different than the useless lines you might spew at a disobedient child. And how did that work out? Here are five to avoid.

Maybe your workplace has a policy against crusty language on the job. Many places don’t. If yours doesn’t, don’t just sit back and let your ears ring from the F-bombs bursting in air as the cuss jar quickly fills up to bankroll the next pizza party. As a boss, you need to temper the language, if not put a downright stop to it. Here are some points to ponder.

Your book of regulations is likely not all-encompassing, vague in spots and open to interpretation in others. It’s just a guide, for crying out loud. Which brings us to the fine art of fudging, bending or otherwise looking the other way in some circumstances. Done deftly, rule-bending can build a more engaged workforce.
Every organization has one or two employees who can be labeled as hopelessly disengaged, totally unplugged and here just for the paycheck and other trimmings you call benefits. But what about the disengagement that permeates the whole workplace?
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