ex military is operating in a highly bureaucratic manner

ok, my problem began with an ex military sergeant was promoted to mgnmnt.  he is operating in a highly bureaucratic manner.  He believes that gossip should stop immediately.  he also expects employees to be in their offices at the appointed starting time and throughout the work day, except for lunch breaks. No loitering will be tolerated, PERIOD.  If anyone has a problem related to work, he or she should write a memo directly to the manager explaining the source of the problem and request a private meeting.  I am concerned about these guidelines because they violate our beliefs about employee informal communication networks and value of them to our office.  Can anyone offer any recommendations for dealing with this problem?


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  • Who is this employee's supervisor?  I'm guessing a VP, President or CEO? That is the person who needs to deal with this employee.  If you are in a lateral position, you will not be able to require that change be made.

    Are your beliefs about employee informal communication networks in writing? If so, they should be shown to the employee along with a discussion of what they mean.  Remind the employee that this is not the military and that part of his job is to help retain good employees and unfortunately treating people as if they are in the military is going to drive them elsewhere (possibly your competition).  I would point out that the military is very important and when men and women are on the field they need that discipline, but in the office the need for creativity and flexibility must be balanced with discipline.  To go overboard in either direction will ultimately hurt the company.

  • the CEO has asked if I had any recommendations to offer in dealing with this situation.  I will not have to deal with this employee in this situation one on one.  Thanks for your recommendations, any and all are appreciated!
  • Hey, this guy is a fish out of water, so give him a break. He must have been hired for his strengths.  I think any discussion on his being "too military" should be done in an informal setting, perhaps over pizza at lunch.  And be sure to spin it in a positive manner--say something like "you must be enjoying the more informal atmosphere here" or "how are you adjusting to the more informal atmosphere" and let him lead the conversation. Then you can make your points.  Don't be confrontational.

    Actually, the CEO should be having this talk with him!

  • I will not have to deal with him one on one.  Just offer feedback.  I think everyone is just in a panic with the change.  Want to keep everyone as happy as possible.
  • I would recommend sending him to training classes on how to be an effective manager.  I'm sure that there are many classes and or seminars in your area that would offer him the skills for working in an office environment that he seems to be lacking.  You say that he was promoted to management so I suspect that he has always thought that there needed to be more discipline in the department and that will be hard to change.  Your CEO needs to coach this new manager on his interpersonal skills. 

  • I would agree that this manager needs training. This may be the time to start a management training seminar at your company for all managers. An annual half day of training for all managers. That way you can get your points across without singling out the military manager.
  • As a recently separated veteran, I can relate to this guy's mentality.  The fact that he was a sergeant shows that he put some years in a system that trained him to think and operate the way he does.  This mentality doesn't go away over night.

    I've been out of the Army for a little over a year and thankfully, I had coworkers and supervisors who respectfully ushered me back into the real world of thinking.

    I would suggest that his supervisor speak with him praising his efforts and standards but emphasizing the "human" in human resources and educating him on "workplace culture."  This is a reactive approach but it preserves the self esteem of the veteran and gives hope to the other employees of possible change.

    There are many men and women leaving the service these days especially with what's happening in our world today.  To accomodate this veteran employee influx, I would suggest to HR to have a block of instruction on workplace culture to ease former GI Joes back into life as just "Joe."

  • Great advice sowelljames!  I would totally agree with what you said.  We all need to keep in mind that this military manager's ways are not necessarily wrong, just maybe not appropriate in your office setting.  I see both sides - for employees that are not used to military ways, that type of management is scary and frustrating, but for our ex-military members, it's what works.  I think the suggestion for training with all management is an excellent idea!
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