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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Avoid making impossible promises

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. You probably also have your own work-related goals, and to accomplish them, it is important to have your staff look up to you.

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, trying to get needed resources.

It may be tempting as a supervisor to promise your employees pay increases or changes in classification and benefits or that you will get 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 before talking to your employees, you may find that you can�t deliver on your promise, or that you can�t get it done in the timeframe you planned.

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 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.

The biggest stumbling block your Business Office and HRS face is a lack of direct communication about what you want. 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 your employees ask you to get them more money or a higher classification or an exception to a policy?


Communicate directly � tell them whether or not you support their request and why.


If you do support their request, tell them that while you cannot promise them, you will champion their cause.


Let them know what the outcome is.

The bottom line is that Purdue University is an extremely large and interconnected institution, and none of us has the freedom to act in isolation from those around us. We all have an obligation to work together to accomplish our goals.

- Deb Turner, assistant director
Employment and Compensation

Gold rule

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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.