Career Coach Joyce E.A. Russell answered questions from readers during an online chat last week. Here are excerpts, edited for grammar and clarity.
Q: I work in a department of "Chatty Cathys." Only three people on the team are making the quota on a daily basis. Our supervisor recognizes which people are doing their job, but is not punishing those who do not. While I am quitting soon, is there anything I can do?
A: Sounds like you want to inform someone about the problems with people not doing their jobs. If that is the case, is there a procedure in your firm for exit interviews with people who are quitting? If you feel this information will be kept confidential, then you can be honest about your concerns about people not meeting their goals and no action being taken for this. This is a valid concern. If, however, you feel that the exit interview will NOT be kept in confidence and you don't have a manager you feel comfortable sharing this information with, then I would suggest not saying anything.
Q: I interviewed for a job this week and am waiting to hear if I made it past the first round. This would be for my first supervisory job in my career. In the interview, I got the sense that they are looking for someone to shake things up, and possibly rearrange (or remove!) staff. Is it a good idea to take on this kind of job as a first-time supervisor? If they offer the job to me, is it appropriate to first ask to meet the staff I would be supervising to get a sense of their personalities?
A: You certainly want to get a better sense from them about what your goals are to be for this job. It is definitely important for you to meet with all of your staff before making any organizational changes. You can set up one-on-one meetings with each of them for 30 to 45 minutes to learn more about what they enjoy doing in their jobs, what their major challenges seem to be, how they want to grow in the firm, etc. This would be a great way for you to better understand your staff before making any changes. Remember that those first decisions you make (if you fire, transfer, demote or promote people) will tell others a lot about your leadership style. So, it is better to first collect information from your bosses as well as your staff. Then, you can go back to your bosses to share your insights before making any changes.