Manager Employee Communication

Peter Bregman writes for the Harvard Business Review, and he’s also CEO of Bregman Partners, a global management consulting firm. Bregman authored an article in January titled “When your voicemails and email go unanswered, what should you do?” The article’s primary focus was on the issue of applicants and clients waiting impatiently as managers and companies fail to respond. The issue is similar to managers who don’t respond to their own employees, so Life in the Cubicle emailed Bregman to see if he could shed some light on the subject. True to his word, Bregman triaged the email and politely responded. The fact that he responded at all puts Bregman into the Life in the Cubicle Hall of Fame (which currently consists of two members — Tom Selleck and Peter Bregman).

Q: Should managers ask employees to CC them on all communications?

Peter Bregman: That could be appropriate. But only for a week or two. If the manager doesn’t trust the employee after that, she should fire the employee since she’s doing the employee’s job anyway. If it turns out that the manager is firing all her employees because she doesn’t trust any of them, then she should fire herself and move into an individual contributor job. She’ll be a lot happier and so will everyone else.”

Q: If an employee emails a manager on a rather important and urgent topic, and the manager never responds, whose fault is it…manager or employee?

Peter Bregman: It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. What matters is that the urgent topic gets handled. The employee shouldn’t wait around to see where the finger gets pointed. If you don’t get an email response, call. If that doesn’t work, knock. If that doesn’t work, text. And if that still doesn’t get the manager’s attention, go ahead and yell.”

As Bregman points out, a “get it done” attitude should be adopted by all employees and managers. However, in the opinion of Life in the Cubicle, employees shouldn’t have to spend their day getting their manager’s attention. An office would be far more efficient by just firing the manager and finding someone capable of responding to critical emails.