Last week I received a message from a colleague in the pharmacy space practicing in South Africa after which we deliberated on general concerns in the pharmacy profession in the continent and globally. Having much love for the profession I was inclined to indulge further and as fate would have it, she wasn’t having the best of moments at her work station. A greater part of it was attributed to a strained relationship she was having with her boss. The boss over time had become abrasive from her perspective and to make it worse being she was the pharmacy outlet manager, when concerns were being raised via email with subordinates and horizontal managers in copy it portrayed her as incompetent. Nobody wants to appear incompetent and being she’s a qualified and experienced professional I wouldn’t expect less of her but such concerns come around once in a while. This is a concern I’ve come to realize plagues not only her in her circumstances. Probing further there were concerns on delay in responding to emails which being the premise had a single machine, at times colleagues would open, read and not respond to emails thus pushing the boss to the wall while she hadn’t come around to read them.
When relationships are strained especially between us and our bosses, it’s easy to focus on the person and not the subject matter. Not that bosses are perfect but because we’d rather solve our concerns by being objective rather than objective. This became our approach to solving the problem by ensuring she gets to address in-house concerns first i.e. ensure colleagues and subordinates are aligned on what’s causing challenges and ensure they resolve them so that they don’t persist. This is by ensuring any concerns addressed to her and flagged for her attention so that the boss doesn’t have to contend with delays in feedback. Subsequently, with these addressed then it’s easier to engage with the boss and discuss the effect of such confrontations especially bringing others in-between the crossfire. This can only be accomplished only by acknowledging the cause of the problems, laying out a plan of action to address them and finally seeking his support in the journey to be able to perform at optimum. These are some critical approaches that I feel we need to adopt and go by in addressing concerns we face.
For employers, superiors and leaders, it’s up to you to take care of your people. Look out for them and grant them the necessary support they need including inquiring to know why they are not able to deliver on some of your expectations on them. This gives you a chance to support and guide them to their redemption. It doesn’t only win earn you interests in improved productivity and returns but also contributes in nurturing future leaders for your organization. In case they leave, you’ll have trained great leader to drive organic and sustainable growth. This is one key piece that makes me think of Howard Schultz on the People Business when he was the CEO, Starbucks.