Dear Mr. or Ms. Upset Executive Manager,
I’m not going to tell you not to get upset, since that would be too far from my own expertise. I’m going to tell you what goes on after our employees observe us in a conflict, like watching T.V. or dancing bears.
Personally, I’m used to varying levels of respect, disrespect, appropriate and crazy behavior as tough issues get worked out at a management level. Business folks aren’t psychologists and I don’t expect people to be perfect in conflict or pressure cookers. I don’t walk on water myself, but I’ve finally grown comfortable with my boundaries in biz conflicts. As a finance person, holding a certain stance based on responsibility or liability doesn’t always ingratiate myself amongst upper management and sometimes I’m the messenger no one wants to hear. It’s okay though, because in the end, my experience is that most often we emerge even closer and with more trust.
HOWEVER, if staff observes disrespect, even handled unflinchingly or redirected, I can tell YOU Mr. or Ms. Upset Manager, it’s not worth it. It’s far more upsetting to employees than cash flow or fiscal issues. They aren’t comfortable at all going toe to toe with someone holding their paycheck or watching me handle it, even if I’m fortunate enough to remain unruffled.
After such displays, I’m often approached with analytical comments from concerned employees and then there is the subsequent venting about each bear’s management style, effectiveness, etc.
I try to encourage employees who approach after the fact to let conflict style be a personal issue and get them focused on the work we all have to do, while reassuring them that everyone cares and things will be worked out.
Seriously though . . . it’s not worth quietly losing your respect through a public power play in front of staff. Even if the power play is as simple as repeatedly not listening. We cannot save ourselves in these circumstances. Judgments often come quietly and quickly by employees we can’t afford to lose.