Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

How Far Should A Manager Go To Work Within An Employee’s Style?

Different styles can work--if they are not disruptive.

Personal Style or Pain in the Neck?

Each of us has a unique style based on an infinite number of contributing factors. A personal and professional challenge for each of us is to be what seems comfortable and right to us, without creating problems. A manager’s job is to work with the unique styles of all employees as much as possible. What should be the limit to those efforts?

1. When an employee’s quirks, traits, appearance or actions disrupt work or harm the work product or the organization.  A manager’s responsibility is to be alert for the very first indicators of problems and to take action immediately to ensure the employee corrects them.  

 In some work places one or a few employees have been disruptive for weeks, months or years! Of course, the employee should have enough sensitivity and awareness to see what he or she is doing and change it. And, coworkers should have enough confidence and conviction to do something about the things that bother them.  But, ultimately whose responsibility is it?

2. When unreasonable adjustments have to be made. If allowing the employee to work within his or her personal style would require adjustments of performance or behavior standards or the work environment, or an unreasonable tolerance by coworkers, the manager must ensure the employee adjusts to fit into the bigger picture, not the other way around.

Each of us wants the freedom to incorporate our personalities, preferences, experiences, knowledge and skills into our work. An effective manager faciliates individuality as much as possible.  Nevertheless, all employees should be hired, evaluated and retained based on their performance and behavior—and part of that involves adapting personal styles to the larger work environment.

The bottom line: It is possible for everyone to be comfortable within their personal styles, while not imposing those styles on others unreasonably. However, â€œThat’s just the way he is”, is never a reason for tolerating ineffective performance or behavior.

Do you know someone who creates many problems at work and everyone else makes adjustments to deal with that person? Who is that employee’s supervisor or manager? I hope it isn’t you.

November 27th, 2009 Posted by | Challenging and Problematic People, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers, Supervision and Management | 8 comments