Threads in this topic are removed 90 days after the thread was started.

How to be assertive without pissing off colleagues?

(21 Posts)
jammygem Tue 19-Aug-14 20:13:02

I've posted before about my manager not being very happy with me because I'm not assertive enough. I've always figured that I get on really well with my team and as long as the job gets done I shouldn't need to start ordering them around. But today, jobs weren't getting done so I did need to put my foot down.

Standing in the serving area, I asked colleague 1 (C1) to watch his language around customers, please. He made a joke about making sure no customer are around before "fucking swearing", but did apologise. He and two other colleagues were standing around so I said "if you guys haven't got anything to do, can you help me and C2 with the washing up please?" C2 then asked if C3 could hoover the seating area, which he went to do but asked C1 to help. It doesn't take two of them to run the hoover around, and I told them this. All of this was very jokey and the group of us were all having a laugh and joking as all this was going on.

Have just got an email from C1 saying that he thought I took it too far and some of the 'banter' was like a manager pointing out a mistake (that's because it was!) and it sounded like I was a schoolteacher talking to a child. He's not very happy.

I just feel like I can't win. If I don't tell my team what to do, my manager has it in for me, and if I do, then my team starts resenting me. How do I be assertive without pissing them off?

itiswhatitiswhatitis Tue 19-Aug-14 20:16:38

Are you senior to you colleagues? If so then you have to accept that you're not their to be friends. A pleasant working atmosphere is a good thing but it sounds like there is a lack of professional behaviour amongst the team and it's time to distance yourself a bit so you can assert yourself.

jammygem Tue 19-Aug-14 20:17:24

I should add it's not about my team liking me because I want to be liked but more about that they are more likely to do stuff for me i.e. most of them will stay on later if I ask, but won't do the same for the other manager - I have been told by several colleagues that this is because I'm 'fairer and nicer' and so they don't mind doing favours for me.

KristinaM Tue 19-Aug-14 20:18:24

Stop trying to win their friendship by laughing and joking with them.

Be friendly but professional .

They clearly don't think that you are their boss. You need to win their cooperation and respect . You will sometimes have to do and say things they don't like. It's part of the job

MaureenMLove Tue 19-Aug-14 20:19:07

Agree. Hard as it is, you need to step away from the banter and 'manage'. It is really hard, I know, I have to do it myself.

Can you are for some training maybe?

jammygem Tue 19-Aug-14 20:19:14

Although I take your point on board itiswhatitis. I think the big trouble for me is that I was only recently promoted, and used to be at the same 'level' as my team, and have found the transition a little difficult.

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 19-Aug-14 20:20:22

I'd respond with 'That WAS a manager pointing out a mistake. There was no need for X to occur and jobs are not getting done on time so I will be meeting with the team to draw up a schedule to ensure that this doesn't happen again. If you feel that it is a two person job, then please by all means bring it up at the scheduling meeting that will be called for next week.'

MaureenMLove Tue 19-Aug-14 20:21:33

Oh and forward that e-mail on to your manager! That is crossing the line for C1 to tell you that you 'took it too far' and you sounded like a school teacher.

If he thought you sounded like a school teacher, that's probably because he was acting like a school child!

itiswhatitiswhatitis Tue 19-Aug-14 20:22:15

Fairer and nicer = a bit of a pushover and we don't have to work as hard

None of your examples in your OP are remotely unreasonable requests and the fact your colleague emailed you to complain shows he does not take you seriously

itiswhatitiswhatitis Tue 19-Aug-14 20:24:23

Ah cross post with your last update. Ok it would appear your colleagues are not quite used to your new role, but that is their problem. You are now senior to them, it is your role to point out errors and they will just have to get used to that.

itiswhatitiswhatitis Tue 19-Aug-14 20:26:27

I think the important thing is for you to feel confident in yourself. So you need to tell yourself "ok my team are a bit put out BUT my actions were reasonable"

Hi OP. This is a difficult situation, getting used to changes in role. But you are paid for getting the job done. C1 sounds like they need to grow up a bit. How they feel is their issue. I would say you are sorry that they feel upset but ultimately, you have a responsibility. Perhaps you could look at something called Transactional Analysis, which is about developing adult-adult relationships as opposed to parent-child. It's a bit academic but I'm sure there's something out there that could help. I'll have a quick look on amazon and report back if there's anything practical. Take some time to think about new boundaries and how you can implement them, keeping respect for your colleagues and ensuring respect for yourself.

Lottiedoubtie Tue 19-Aug-14 20:29:33

I'd reply to the complainer and just say 'I'm sorry that you feel like that, jobs do need to be done though'. And the I'd follow the advice upthread about distancing yourself for awhile, at the moment you're 'too close' and they aren't taking you seriously.

MsJupiter Tue 19-Aug-14 20:30:19

I've worked in a similar situation to you - similar job I think. It is very hard to strike a balance when you work in a 'nice' environment and don't want to be dictatorial. Particularly when the people who work for you are possibly paid MW and have other priorities in their lives.

However, your colleague is out of line. I think you need to try and get them on side, explain that you don't want to change the tone of the workplace but you do need to be able to get the jobs that need doing done. And of course point out that you are employed there to manage so sometimes you will need to draw the line and they will need to accept that. You could acknowledge in a positive way that they did not challenge you at the time but chose to address the issue in private and say that you'd welcome their input into how to get the team to shape up a bit without losing the camaraderie.

Maybe it's an opportunity to look at how routines are carried out and if there are written lists so that you can refer to them if people need reminding. Sometimes if things have been very relaxed, it can shock people if you suddenly come down hard on them, so try and find a positive way to indicate that you are starting to run a tighter ship.

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 19-Aug-14 20:30:19

No - don't forward that email to your manager. It will just make you look like you can't cope.

You need to step up, take control and manage this lot. That includes drawing up schedules/planning and making sure stuff gets done. Don't go running to your manager at the first sign of a backlash.

Have you had any management training at all OP?

Try "I'm ok, you're ok" by Thomas Harris.

jammygem Tue 19-Aug-14 20:42:08

My (draft) reply:

"Dear X,

I'm happy to joke and have fun at work but I do need to make sure that everything is done properly and on time, and I'm concerned that you feel I went too far today. Jobs needed doing and it is my responsibility to make sure they are done. I am your manager and I was pointing out a mistake - not to make you feel like a child, but to make sure it doesn't happen again.
If you want to talk to me, come see me anytime etc"

Does that sound about right? confused God I'm so crap at this job it's a good thing I'm looking elsewhere

Lottiedoubtie Tue 19-Aug-14 20:48:44

Depends, was it sent through a work email account or a private one? Eg, are you socially close enough to email each other?

If the latter I'd say much less but if it was a 'work email' then yes, that's fine.

I would talk to them rather than write an email. And make a personal note of the conversation (HR hat on, just in case). Good points though.

livelablove Tue 19-Aug-14 20:51:25

I wouldn't email, talk in person.

jammygem Tue 19-Aug-14 21:06:06

Very good point, I will talk to him in person instead. We're not on shift together until next week but I'll make sure to speak to him about it.

I haven't had any training at all, nevermind management training. The other manager was promoted same time as me and TBH we've both been struggling. It's a bit of a crappy position to be in, what with our management hauling us in for disciplinaries for any mistakes we make but not having the time or money to train us - and that's another reason why I'd like my team 'on side' as it were.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now