The mini case is basically a reflection of what can be encountered in a workplace where managers, supervisors or any leader can confront a subordinate regarding a mistake concerning his or her job. The case is about a subordinate named Kelly whose skills and record in the company were already proven by the company. As the brightest among the technicians and the most senior, the kind of confrontation her boss Jack did would be very really embarrassing for Kelly. After the incident, Kelly will feel a little embarrassed like most employees will commonly feel, especially when an employee knows that she or he is one of the brightest employees but still did something that disappointed the management.
If I were Kelly, I will also feel disappointed with myself and after that confrontation, I will promise myself to do better and to be more careful in performing my tasks. I will also try to regain the trust of my boss and prove him that I am not irresponsible and careless like what he thinks because as the most senior among the technicians I should be the one who knows better about our job and the company itself, although I will still feel
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However, not all people is self motivated thus that incident will probably result to demotivated and less satisfied employees. Others might take it too negatively that may result to another mistake, poor performance and lack of concentration and worst, may leave the company because of poor and ineffective relationship with the boss.
On the other hand, although Kelly initially made a mistake and it is Jack’s responsibility to correct such a mistake for the sake of the organization as a whole, Jack’s approach is not the approach of a good leader and he seems to be lacking of good interpersonal communication skills. According to Spangle & Moorhead (1998) interpersonal communication is “the process of exchanging message for the purpose of creating shared meaning and understanding”.
What happened to Jack and Kelly is that they were not able to create shared understanding and that Jack was not sensitive enough to realize that Kelly needed to explain what really happened and how did the mistakes occurred so that each of them can understand each other’s side to be able to create a better leader-subordinate relationship.
Moreover, as the boss and leader, Jack should be the one who was supposed to have better communication skill. Interpersonal communication skill provides leaders the opportunity to achieving goals while improving the relationships within the organization (Hollandsworth, 2004 on Hutt, 2005). Hollandsworth (2004 on Hutt, 2005) added that “the most effective basic interpersonal communication skills focused on initiating conversations, listening effectively, and relationship management”.
Contrary to what a good leader should do, Jack did not initiate a good conversation and did not bother to listen to any reasons or explanations from Kelly, making Kelly wondering what particular mistakes she did and how it happened. In other words, because of how Jack approach Kelly, he did not effectively convey what he wanted to communicate to Kelly. Jack wanted to tell Kelly that what she did has negatively affected the entire department but instead of correcting Kelly and make her learn from her mistakes, he has created negative feelings by “taking her down a peg” that may consequently result to ineffective and poor relationship between him and his brightest employee. An effective leader must not do that to his subordinates but instead criticize them constructively that can motivate them to make them feel satisfy with their job and with the company.
Moreover, a good leader must have the ability to manage the organization and part of managing the organization is relationship management. Relationship management involves having open communication lines between the leader and his employees. Open communication creates immediacy or the lack of intervention between the leader and his subordinates. Positive feedbacks, compliments, constructive criticisms and friendly approach of leaders are some of the immediacy that can eliminate the communication barrier between the leader and his employee.
According to Richmond and McCroskey (2000) “increased immediacy on the part of either the supervisor or a the subordinate is likely to generate reciprocity and accommodation leading to a more positive work environment and more desirable outcomes”. In the case, Jack immediately created a communication barrier between him and Kelly by not giving Kelly a chance to speak and by implying unfriendly and demeaning accusations. Such actions can create an unpleasant working environment for Kelly. She may feel less motivated with her job that can affect her performance, creating an even bigger problem for the company considering that Kelly is one of the brightest technicians of the company.
If I were Kelly’s boss, I will privately confront her so as not to embarrassed her with the other employee. I will not accused her and say unpleasant words because it is very unprofessional to say such words to a subordinate. If a subordinate made a mistake, I will explain to her in a friendly and approachable manner what specifically she has done that caused problems to the department. I will let her explain her sides and after her explanations I will give encouraging words for her to avoid the same mistakes again and at the same time motivate her to further improve her performance.
That way, I can create a good working environment and I present my self as an approachable leader so that whatever problems my subordinates encounter regarding their work, they will not hesitate to approach me, creating an open communication which is important in recognizing problems and ways to improve the organization or the team.
It is therefore very important for an organization to have good communication headed by a leader with good interpersonal skills that can implement an effective communication and relationship management practices. Such practices along with a good leader-subordinate relationship create a good and motivating working environment that is conducive to effective performance of employees.
Hutt, Terron (2005) Required Interpersonal Communication Skills for Leadership Coaching,
University of Denver Retrieved online on February 8, 2007
McCroskey, J., and Richmond, V. (2000). Applying reciprocity and accommodation theories to
Journal of Applied Communication Research, 28 (3),
Spangle, M. & Moorhead, J. (1998). Interpersonal communication in organizational settings.
Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company