Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Who Re-Presents You?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the concept of re-presenting someone. You can refresh your memory in a new window by clicking here.  The idea was that when we pass along information at work, discuss a work project or do anything else related to work, we are direct representations of the person who first gave the information to us–often our supervisor or manager, or the higher levels of our organization.

This also applies to how those who report to us re-present us to others–and that is something we should take much more seriously than we sometimes do.  The people who report to you and the people who act on your behalf are you in the minds of many others. Make sure they represent you in the best possible ways.  

I was talking to someone this week who complained about an adminstrative support person (Admin, as we sometimes have shortened the title) who is excessive about her role as a secretary/gatekeeper. Here is what he said:  

“She doesn’t smile at anyone except the higher-ups and acts as though everyone is wasting her time. Her approach is that everyone except her and the top execs are too menial to see the BIG MAN.  She filters information so much, that a lot of the things people leave or send by email don’t get through. What really upsets people is that she takes on things she has no business getting involved with and has messed up several things under the guise of improving what someone else did. She’s like a bossy St. Peter at the Golden Gates! She does a great job with most of her actual work, but everyone dreads walking up to her throne…I mean, desk.”

The irony of that complaint is that the complainer is the employee’s boss! He told me he was at his wit’s end to know how to stop his Admin. from being so unpleasant and unhelpful to people inside and outside the organization.  He needed her to screen some things, but not in the way she was doing it.  What prompted his concern was that some key contacts were angry with him or had lost a measure of respect for him, based on the behavior of the person representing him.

The Alter-Ego Syndrome. Most organizations now and then have someone who becomes the alter-ego of the person they are supposed to be helping. Unfortunately they nearly always assume the role in an officious and obnoxious manner! (I think that reflects on their character in general, and what they would be like if they were given any authority over others. Some may feel sorry for their emotional neediness–I don’t, because I see and hear about the negative results so often.)

A similar situation occurs when supervisors and managers forget that the negative behavior, disruptive demeanor, poor work communications, ineffectiveness or inefficiency of their employees reflects directly and negatively on them as a leader, just as good work reflects positively.

If you have a direct report who has a reputation for negative performance or behavior: View everything that person does as being in your name. Ask yourself if it is how you want to be re-presented to those above you, the others who report to you, your clients or customers and anyone else who encounters that person.

I advised the person who complained to me about his administrative support person–but who was unsure if he wanted the hassle of trying to deal with her–to picture her with a sign around her neck that said,

“Everything I do is a representation of my manager. What do you think of him now?”

If every employee with whom you work wore such a sign, would you be responding differently to their actions, attitudes and performance? Whether you can see it or not, the sign is there!

June 5th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work | 2 comments