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Who's In Charge? Communication Insubordination Assertiveness Shirking Responsibility

I have two employees that report to me, and they spend a lot of time socializing with each other. I don’t want to be a mean manager, so I have approached them while they are talking and encouraged them to get back to work. However, they soon return to socializing. How can I correct this without being a mean manager?

It is important to clarify what you mean by “mean manager.” If you are talking about yelling, intimidating, or degrading these employees, such behavior is clearly mean and inappropriate.

However, when employees are wasting hours of time, they need more than encouragement to get back on track. They need a meeting with you and some clear guidance. You should sit down with both of them and use a businesslike tone to let them know that their frequent and lengthy conversations need to end immediately. They should understand that such conversations are a waste of time and a drain on productivity. You can make this a verbal warning, but both of these employees should understand that if the problem continues, you will take more formal disciplinary action.

A related concern is that you appear to be overly interested in being well-liked by your employees, and this might explain your lack of decisive action to deal with them. Rather than focusing on being well liked, you will do better if you focus on being respected, and that means acting like a manager. And by the way, employees tend to like and respect managers who actually manage.

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