By Trumbo, Judith R.; Veglahn, Peter A.
Supervisory Management , Vol. 35, No. 2
Positive Personnel Decisions: Gaining Management Support
You're a first-line supervisor who's confronted with a personnel problem. Because you're closest to the day-to-day operation of your division, you know how to solve it - but can you? That depends on whether top management will support your decision. Too often, top management overturns supervisors' employee decisions because of policy. The results can be decreased morale and productivity and the creation of an atmosphere of duplicity.
Consider Marian's supervisor. Marian is a productive and respected employee who has been with her firm for seven years. She receives a job offer with a higher salary from another company. Although reluctant to leave her present position, she knows she could use the extra money. Her supervisor knows how valuable Marian is and recommends an immediate salary increase equaling the other company's offer. Top management, however, rejects the recommendation, citing a strict policy on annual pay reviews.
The supervisor has another option, which is to re-evaluate Marian's job description, stressing different areas. In the end, this new description permits Marian to be promoted - and given a raise. Her job description no longer accurately reflects her responsibilities, but she doesn't leave.
This approach, although essentially effective, is dysfunctional. Even though this is just one position, its effect is to render job descriptions meaningless. Titles no longer reflect duties, and performance standards can't be defined. Other employees may eventually become dissatisfied with the pattern of work relationships.
To promote morale and productivity, supervisors must identify alternative approaches that allow their actions to be accepted by top management.
The need for consistency
Policies are established to ensure consistency; supervisors shouldn't expect top management to violate the principles expressed in established policies. Supervisors who go above and beyond to reward a valued employee should beware lest they cause a ripple effect. If an employee is truly invaluable to the company, the supervisor should be able to support this claim. If the supervisor can do this, top management may be persuaded to take special action. …