What’s Wrong? Tip of the Week
Ever asked someone at work, “What’s wrong?” It’s a common question in all parts of life. In the workplace, we’re sometimes reluctant to ask. It may be because we really don’t want to know or fear a long explanation. It may be because we’re afraid we’ll find out something we’re not supposed to know. It may be because we’re just not big on communication.
On its face, there’s nothing wrong with the question. There’s always a reason for asking it. Something appears to be wrong. An employee isn’t on his game. Maybe it’s been going on a couple of days and is beginning to interfere with the work of others. Ideally, you’re asking the question because you want to help.
Part of a supervisor’s job is to evaluate how an employee is doing, so if something is amiss, asking the question is what a supervisor should do. It’s true that the question requires the exercise of judgment. Depending on the answer, you may need to back off, at least temporarily. It may be something you can’t help with, if the problem is completely extraneous to work. Letting your employees know you know when something is wrong and you’d like to help is good management.
You may obtain information that raises legal issues: a disability; an illness that may involve the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); a whistleblowing kind of matter; something that requires discipline or termination.
Part of a supervisor’s job is to communicate. The employees of a good supervisor will come to her with problems. You may find out something that requires immediate attention. You may need to involve HR in the process. The point is if you’re a supervisor, you can’t do your job if something is wrong with one of your employees and you don’t know what it is.