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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Supervisor promises: Don't make one you can't keep

As a supervisor, you no doubt understand that part of your role is to give your employees the tools they need to do their work and to keep them motivated. It's important for your employees to be able to count on you as they do their part in helping to achieve your organization's goals.

You may be under great pressure to produce results, and you may find that you are often in the middle, working back and forth between your employees and your own supervisors to get needed resources.

It may be tempting to promise your employees pay increases, changes in classification and benefits, or an exception to a University policy in an effort to retain them or motivate them to produce the results you need.

The problem is that if you don't involve your Business Office and Human Resource Services (HRS) before talking to your employees, you may find that you can't deliver on your promise. There may be a regulatory issue, or it may be that there are not enough resources to do what you want to do. This may cause you to be embarrassed in front of your employees, and can strain your relationship with them.

When this happens, you're likely to be angry with your Business Office or HRS, and you may feel like you have lost face with your employee.

All of this can be avoided! How?

Tell your Business Office and HRS what your goal is up front. That's all � tell us what you want, and we will work together to do our best to help you get it.

  • We need �full disclosure� up front � it speeds up the process and you're more likely to get what you want if we know what it is.

There are only a few reasons we might not be able to give you exactly what you want:

  • If what you want causes your department or the University to violate laws or policies
  • If your department/school/college does not want to or cannot fund what you want
  • If it creates inequity among other employees

Even if one of the above conditions exists, we can and will continue to work with you to find other options so that you can accomplish your goals.

Once you know that it can be done or once you have a good alternative, THEN talk to your employee.

What should you do if one of your employees asks for more money, a higher classification, or an exception to a policy?

  • Communicate directly � tell the employee whether or not you support his or her request and why.
  • If you do support the request, tell the employee that while you cannot promise an outcome, you will champion the cause.
  • Tell your Business Office representatives what you want to do and why.
  • Work with them and coordinate with Human Resource Services.
  • Wait for the outcome before you respond to the employee.

The bottom line is that Purdue University is extremely large and complex with many interdependencies. Your Business Office and HRS want to work with you to meet your needs as optimally as possible. This is most readily accomplished when we partner together with open, honest, and constructive dialogue.

- Deb Turner, assistant director
Employment and Compensation




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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.