Michael Fineberg should have known better.
He's a business psychologist and a coach of bosses, yet he completely blew it in handling one of his employees. She got so mad she quit.
Looking back at what went wrong, "you have to start with the understanding that I have met the enemy and it is me," said Fineberg, managing partner of Delta Consultants in Wayne.
It's not easy being a boss, a manager, a supervisor or an executive. Yes, the pay is often better and so are the perks, but the work can be a complex tangle of corporate and emotional objectives.
If not handled right, many stumble, creating chaos or a depressing torpor in the workplace, experts say.
Some managers over-manage, other are disengaged. Some are workaholics who drive everyone nuts; others are narcissistic, seeing anything and everything that happens in their department as a reflection of or response to them. And then of course, there are the truly talented, who by listening, who by adjusting their style to fit the individuals they supervise, and who by communicating clear goals and objectives, build a coherent, orderly and even joyful workplace.
"I've seen leadership at its best and worst," wrote Merrick Rosenberg, director of training and development at Team Builders Plus in Cherry Hill, a management consulting firm.
"I've seen employees who would do anything for their manager, not because they have to, but because their manager has inspired personal loyalty and organizational commitment. And I've seen employees who drive home every day wishing they had a new manager.
Business consultant Fineberg didn't think he was doing anything wrong several years ago when he telephoned a valuable assistant each day in the hospital after she had a car accident.
Instead of focusing on her health, he questioned her pointedly about when she planned to return to work. As it turned out, she was gone a week. Two months after she returned, she left the company for good, chastising Fineberg for his lack of concern for her health.
"I missed the boat," he said. "She did a good job, and I really didn't want her to leave."
At the time, he thought she might try to stay out of work to build a better case for a lawsuit, a possibility that he took as a personal affront to him and the business, fitting the profile of the narcissist boss.
"I really angered her," he said. "When she was telling me during the exit interview, you could tell she was really insulted by it."
For him, the lesson learned was to try to treat his employees' emotions with the same sensitivity that he would apply to his clients. If he angered on of his clients, he'd lose business. "You can see the money leaving your wallet."
"You have to look at your employee as a customer of yours in a certain way," he said. "They also receive services from you. You have to tune into them. You have to nurture them. They aren't going to give you money, but they can give you extraordinary service, which can be a lot better than money."
In the case of his assistant, he said he should have been more attuned to her well-being and waited longer before expressing concerns about her return date.Print Article