405.627.6326 matt@whyhr.guru

The cheerleader is the most important role that a manager has. In that role, the manager rallies the team around the company’s mission and helps them achieve their goals. But sometimes people fall out of line, which is where the manager’s second role—the lifeguard—comes into play.

There are multiple ways an employee might fall out of line in a business. It could be related to performance, attitude, or simply not following policy. In any of these situations, the employee isn’t contributing in the way you need them to contribute for the success of the business.

The lifeguard’s role is to help that struggling employee. If someone’s struggling to keep their head above water in the deep end, a lifeguard is going to help them back to the shallow end and maybe connect that person with a swim instructor. If someone dives headfirst into the shallow end or is running around the pool, the lifeguard is going to whistle sharply to get their attention and remind them of the pool rules.

The lifeguard role for the manager is much the same. First, that manager needs to know the rules (company policies) and the potential signs of distress for an employee. If the manager isn’t aware of the issues, they can’t do anything to correct them, so it’s important to know what to look for. Then they have to communicate with that employee to identify the source of the problem. Are they not aware of the policies? Have they been given new tasks but not the proper training for how to perform those tasks?

There’s a difference between job performance issues and repeat violations of policy. If you’re at the pool and continually break the rules, the lifeguard is probably going to issue you a stern warning. The same is true of a manager in the lifeguard role. If an employee repeatedly violates policy, it’s time to follow the process of writing them up for policy violations.

But when it comes to job performance, there can be a long list of contributing factors. It could be lack of training, frustration at another employee’s poor work ethic, or something going on in their personal life. In order to help that employee, you first have to identify the issue and put a support plan in place.

In the lifeguard role, it’s important for the manager to have the difficult conversations. A manager must be willing to say, “Here’s what I see happening. Let’s talk about it.” Otherwise, they can’t offer their employees the help they need in order to succeed, which is an important part of the lifeguard role.

If your management team struggles with addressing policy violations or poor job performance, Why HR can help. Contact us today to learn more about our manager and supervisor training programs.

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