I’m Not Getting the Respect I Deserve at Work

Your Corporate Black Girl

Dear Nikki,

I don’t work in a corporate, but I am a Supervisor working in retail. I’ve been feeling like I’m not getting the respect I deserve when it comes to delegating tasks to the sales associates. I’ve spoken to my store manager about this more than once, and he has not given me any solutions to help fix the issue. There have also been issues about the workload I’m taking on, (it’s not being shared, and I am not given the correct tools to do my job efficiently) and he’s told me he doesn’t know how to help me. I don’t want to keep having the same conversation, but do you have any advice on how I could improve the respect I get with the associates?


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


There are 2 separate issues that I'm hearing but another key problem that likely needs to be addressed first.  

Your manager.  

It sounds like, and I may be off base here, that there's a major disconnect with your manager and the rest of the team and possibly the organization. I think you have an opportunity here to first address your manager and seek their support. In order to address your concerns with your team, you'll need the support from your manager to lead the team. Since he's not giving you direction or solutions, you need to bring things up as solutions to him and get him to buy in. If he agrees with your solutions, then you know how to can move forward. 

You don't necessarily need permission to resolve issues on your own. Your manager may not be equipped to handle these types of "people problems", but that doesn't mean that you can't take the lead.

Let your manager know of the issues you're having with the team again and decide amongst the two of you how best to confront the team's behavior.  Not following directives from your supervisor is insubordination, no matter what industry you're in. Your team doesn't have a choice in whether or not they want to do what they're being asked. 

Have you read through the company's code of conduct? Does your company have a policy for dealing with behavioral issues with staff? Start there. If there is no formal policy, discuss what options you have within the parameters of your organization and come to a conclusion with your boss on how to take the next steps. You can begin your own individual store's policies on conduct (get this approved through corporate first). The key here is once you've determined how things should be, communicate the expectations and act on it moving forward. 

Next, you'll want to set or reinforce the expectations for your team.  Do you have frequent team meetings or set times with the collective staff to come together & go over concerns or topics concerning the entire group? If not, this is something that you'll want to get your manager's input in and then seek to implement in order to address your issues.  Think of conducting a weekly team meeting to go over things with the store, answer their questions, etc. Make sure your manager is there for all the meetings. This will ensure he's included and aware of anything communicated to the team and the team will also know that since he's there, it's to be taken seriously.

Setting expectations can really help with turning things around, and if you continue to have issues, then you'll already have an action plan in place with how to move forward with behavioral problems. 

Regarding the workload... as you continue to grow in your career and move into other leadership roles, you will continue to run into this. Have you ever heard of the term, "$**t rolls downhill"? Well, this can have several meanings but in this case, it means you need to start delegating. This will take time - you need to get your staff in order first and then hopefully you'll start to weed out the bad folks and a superstar may rise on the team. You can eventually start to delegate some of your work to someone who has some initiative on the team and wants to help out.

Unfortunately, you may need to carry some of that extra load until you get everything else in order first but it'll just make you better in the long run. Pressure either bursts pipes or it makes diamonds. 

You're going to be just fine. You just need to first manage up (manage your manager)and set some expectations and make some guidelines for the team with the support of your manager.  If your staff continues to be disrespectful, you have to follow through with the action plan that's been agreed on to enforce. Manage them up or manage them out!

You've got this!

Nikki Davis 

- P.S. 

I'd love to hear back from you and how everything turns out!  Good luck!

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Your curly girl manager, just trying to live her happiest life! 

Wife, new mom, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. with 11 years industry experience, 6 years of management experience. Manager a team of men in a male dominant industry, while being the only woman on the team. DIY fashion blogger, a self taught seamstress. Owner/Creator of a monthly subscription service, SewConscious.com

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