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Good Cop Bad Cop

Are you a manager who's wondering why other department managers don't have the same personnel problems you have? Are you a supervisor whose manager thinks you can't control the workers under you? In this article, I reveal a technique used by shrewd managers and their supervisors to maximize the performance of the personnel in their department.

Note, if your rank is below the supervisory level, please discontinue reading this article. This information is for managers and supervisors eyes only.

First, let's put a foundation under the information you about to receive.

The most difficult, complex, and critical resource to control in any organization is not the business process, not the materials, not the technology -- it's the people. People are much more complicated to deal with than even the most advanced technology. The biggest budget item for any business is labor costs and the cost of employee benefits. A business that doesn't get maximum performance from their people resources has little chance of survival.

If you're a manager who thinks you have the power in your department, let me educate you right now - the workers can make or break you. The workers have the power in your department. I have seen a situation where the department supervisor and manager didn't get along. The supervisor conspired with the workers to make the manager look bad. Eventually, the manager was fired.

As a manager, if you don't have rapport and complete trust in your supervisor, you had better sit down with that individual and come to an understanding, or get rid of them immediately. A manager and supervisor must work together like a well oiled machine or the employees, not the manager, will be running the department.

Where the manager and supervisor fit into the organizational structure.

A manager looks after the interests of the company. The company allocates resources to the manager and the manager uses those resources to accomplish the company's objectives. A manager needs to be diligent in the use of the company's resources.

A manager might say to the workers, "Tardiness and absenteeism are too high in this department. We are going to start issuing reprimands to anyone with an unexcused absence or anyone who comes in late for work. There are also too many mistakes coming out of this department and if the work doesn't improve, someone will be fired."

A supervisor develops a rapport with, and looks after the interests of, the workers. The supervisor becomes coach, protector, friend, and nurturer of the workers. A supervisor needs to be diligent in the use of the workers physical and emotional resources.

A supervisor might say to the workers,"The company is on a tangent to come down on anybody who misses work or comes in late, so I'm asking everyone to make an extra effort to get to work on time until this blows over. They have also been complaining about a few mistakes we made, so can anyone think of a way we can double check our work to keep them off our back?"

What goes on behind closed doors.

It seems like the manager is a stern taskmaster, while the supervisor is a good, kind person. But behind closed doors, the manager and the supervisor have conspired together and are playing that familiar game "bad cop, good cop", where the "bad cop" threatens and intimidates the suspect, while the "good cop" sympathizes with and befriends the suspect.

The manager is feeding the supervisor all the inside information about the organization and company's objectives. The supervisor is feeding the manager all the inside information about the workers' problems and performance issues. Together, they formulate a plan to get maximum performance from the workers and meet the company's objectives.

The supervisor might say to the manager, "I'll tell Betty that I explained to you about her personal problems, but you said if she misses one more day of work you'll fire her."

The manager might say to the supervisor, "Start packing some of the equipment we don't use every day, but if anyone asks, say it hasn't been decided yet if our department is going to move to Ohio."

Out on the floor.

The workers are performing well because their supervisor is a good guy who understands their personal problems and looks after their interests. Occasionally, the supervisor has to deliver some bad news to the workers, but it's not the supervisor's fault. Blame it on the "bad cop" manager.

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• Time Management and Productivity
• When You Have to Say I'm Sorry
• Being a Professional
• Good Cop Bad Cop
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