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I'm an INFJ, and I work as a supervisor for the student workers in a college library. It's a small college and a small group of employees (about 10, depending on the semester). I am also responsible for hiring students, so I get a good chance to evaluate them before they start working for me, but even the best workers inevitably have times where they need to be corrected or reprimanded.

My problem is that although I have very high standards (for myself as well as my student workers), my people-pleasing tendencies get in the way when I notice something that needs attention/correction. There was a time in the past where I needed to give my students a firm warning about a conduct issue, and I finally settled on a written letter warning. I simply didn't feel that I could make my case as firmly as was necessary if I addressed the issue in person.

I'm curious as to whether you all think using written communication that way is sometimes permissible or even advantageous. However, there is no doubt that I still need to become more comfortable with actual verbal discipline or confrontation. Any tips on how to overcome that people-pleasing tendency in the workplace?
 

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If someone is to interpret your warning as an offense, then it's their problem, you just want to give light to an issue.
 

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Ahem... well, I tend to march to the beat of my own drum so I've been on the receiving end of university or workplace discipline. I often got the sense that it was difficult for them to do it, partly because of nerves, but also because it could compromise our relationship. Probably didn't help that I often held a bit more notoriety and perhaps in the back of their mind they worried about creating an "us" (students/coworkers) vs them (professor/management) situation.

I'd say the most effective means was honestly just them being courteous and asking if they could speak with me for a moment in private. I didn't get that sort of dread that I'm in trouble nor was any attention brought to it that anyone around me would notice -- this avoided anything potentially embarrassing or putting me in a spot where I'd have to tell others what the conversation was about.

In private, they explained what happened or rather what was the problem was, but they did so in a matter that wasn't necessarily patronizing or attacking me -- so I didn't feel like I had to put my guard up. They didn't kiss my ass, make excuses for me, or overly explain their entire thoughts or feelings about it all. They just kind of laid it out respectfully -> what they expect from me in the future -> gave me a moment to say whatever I needed to say -> thanked for my time -> I apologized -> good bye :D. Everything went back to normal~

I'd say the least effective means was an email I received. I'm a bull shitter and I'll tell people exactly what they want to hear, but there's less of a meeting of the minds with this approach and it often led to a bit of animosity. Now, I don't most people are as immature as me, so emails/letters could be suffice in certain circumstances, but I'd say the best approach is 1:1.
 

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If someone is to interpret your warning as an offense, then it's their problem, you just want to give light to an issue.
I.e. realize that I can control how I approach the situation, and do my best to do so in a way that is productive, but I can't control their emotions. Is that what you mean?
 

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Ahem... well, I tend to march to the beat of my own drum so I've been on the receiving end of university or workplace discipline. I often got the sense that it was difficult for them to do it, partly because of nerves, but also because it could compromise our relationship. Probably didn't help that I often held a bit more notoriety and perhaps in the back of their mind they worried about creating an "us" (students/coworkers) vs them (professor/management) situation.

I'd say the most effective means was honestly just them being courteous and asking if they could speak with me for a moment in private. I didn't get that sort of dread that I'm in trouble nor was any attention brought to it that anyone around me would notice -- this avoided anything potentially embarrassing or putting me in a spot where I'd have to tell others what the conversation was about.

In private, they explained what happened or rather what was the problem was, but they did so in a matter that wasn't necessarily patronizing or attacking me -- so I didn't feel like I had to put my guard up. They didn't kiss my ass, make excuses for me, or overly explain their entire thoughts or feelings about it all. They just kind of laid it out respectfully -> what they expect from me in the future -> gave me a moment to say whatever I needed to say -> thanked for my time -> I apologized -> good bye :D. Everything went back to normal~

I'd say the least effective means was an email I received. I'm a bull shitter and I'll tell people exactly what they want to hear, but there's less of a meeting of the minds with this approach and it often led to a bit of animosity. Now, I don't most people are as immature as me, so emails/letters could be suffice in certain circumstances, but I'd say the best approach is 1:1.
That's a good point... I may not be quite as verbose in person, but that's not the only thing to consider. It could make them feel like they don't have a chance to explain themselves.
 

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I work in an environment that has kept their reprimanding of me to an absolute utter minimum and I so appreciate it. Learning assertiveness goes like this: use "I" statements and this formula...Here is how I see it, This is how it makes me feel, This is what I need from you...Pretty sure that is a general 'relationships' formula but you can apply it in your situation.

Edit to add: Lad's post seems spot on! I think the times I've been reprimanded I didn't even know it, my supervisor is so smooth! He approached it like we were having a friendly conversation and he smoothed the edges all soft and polished, was very clean. I have admitted to him that I get terribly nervous when called to any kind of meeting so he's seemingly taken quite a sensitive approach.
 

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That's a good point... I may not be quite as verbose in person, but that's not the only thing to consider. It could make them feel like they don't have a chance to explain themselves.
You need to get outside of your own head. You must differentiate between work workplace performance and personal conduct- these are two different animals. Conduct is an infraction of workplace policy and regulations, which often may have nothing to do with workplace performance. Personal conduct issues are the unwillingness to follow guidelines and is not to be tolerated. You must follow YOUR supervisory guidelines as to how to proceed with misconduct- usually being progressive in nature. Whether it is verbal, followed, by written, then by termination, all depends on the guidelines set by your employer or establishment.

Personal conduct in the workplace is a direct reflection of you as a leader. If they can't conduct themselves appropriately, it demonstrates YOUR inability to effectively manage and correct your group. While you are worried or wondering if they may not have a chance to explain, they are figuring more ways to get over you because it is a behavioral issue. Believe it or not, they have already sniffed you out and know how to get over you. It's just like being a parent- you need to know when to be able to give that tough love but not dwell on the issue and move on. Give too many "oh, johnny" talks and you will find yourself frustrated even more.

People respect authority, confidence, competency and self awareness in a leader. They will continue to test you and see how far you will take it- no matter how evil or nice you are as a leader because it's human nature. Give them an inch, they will take the entire yard.

Sometimes, talking and explaining doesn't work for some people. They simply need to be told to get ish done and if not, they will see the devil- especially when it comes to personal conduct. Not everyone responds to kind letters and these are the ones who smell the hesitance in you.

Remember, corrective actions for personal conduct in the workplace is not the same as work performance. Deal with it accordingly or you will find yourself in your bosses office if the personal conduct goes beyond your control.



 

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I would suggest you do it in person rather than a letter. If they've done something wrong it's their problem... you have every right as a supervisor to tell them to do what they're supposed to do. You don't have to mean obviously, but employees have to do what their employers tell them... that's it. I suspect they know that, and even if they might grumble at you, they'll respect you more if you tell them what to do. That's what they expect anyway, most likely. If they expect to be able to do whatever they want, they're not going to last long when they get out of college and enter the real world! XD
 

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I've had a little experience in supervising people in the work place. And while I never found disciplining people pleasant, I actually found I kind of had a knack for it. I would always spend some time first, asking myself "is discipline warranted and fair in this instance?". If I came to the conclusion it was, I would always take the person to a private place (never discipline someone in front of others) and calmly explain the problem. I would then ask if there were any extenuating circumstances or if there was any way I could help them. I think they could sense that I never took pleasure in disciplining them and that I was always trying my best to be fair and they at least respected that, even if they didn't like it.

If they fail to return the respect you have shown them and continue to act up, then it is time to take it to the next level and show them you mean business.

So long as they can see you are not trying to abuse your power and are treating everyone equally, I've found people usually don't give you a hard time for it.
 

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Not saying it's the right method. But, when I was in a management position, I just hid behind the sign.
Not literally.

"This is the policy, this is what is expected, all of us have to conform to this standard."
"I don't like it either, but I'm being held accountable to uphold this standard. It's my job to enforce compliance."

If you find there aren't enough signs to hide behind covering enough of the issues that come up (you are consistently having to issue corrections and feel a bit out on a limb on your own)... then see the higher ups about making signs (policy) covering those things.
Alternatively, you can also see about eliminating certain policy that you frequently have to enforce.
Some rules are just non-intuitive, so people break them frequently. Try switching it up a bit.
 

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I agree with halfamazing. He is spot-on with his advice. You have to separate your personal feelings from business, even if it makes you look bad to your employees. It's not a popularity contest, and you have to get over the tendency to be a people-pleaser. Not everyone is going to like you especially when you correct their behavior. The corporate world is a hard place for us INFJs because it's mostly run by extroverts. Business likes conformity and there's no exception when you deal with your employees. That being said, the best advice I can give you is follow the guidelines, be confident in yourself and know that you are right when dealing with employee's unacceptable conduct.
 

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@halfamazing “Personal conduct in the workplace is a direct reflection of you as a leader. If they can't conduct themselves appropriately, it demonstrates YOUR inability to effectively manage and correct your group”
Not necessarily. As my supervisor pointed out, before we were all hired here, we were each already operating at a very high level. From what I have seen many of us need little to no supervision to get our work done. I have had to write people up for not getting things done quickly enough (if something was due in a week and they took three months on it and didn’t ask for an extension) and so my supervisor actually has had to do none of that dirty work. Yet I am not these peoples’ supervisors. It’s a really interesting setup. I have helped my manager write several journal articles on how to build this kind of workplace and he always adds in that ‘If you have a good system in place, it will be self-correcting,” and it really is. So little outside authority necessary!

 
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Our ability to carry out stupid shit because we're told so distinguishes us from smarter species who give zero fucks. Say, cats.

It explains why we have Walmart and team wanking contests while they have naps and string.

 
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