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Dealing with Employees/Manager Assertiveness


Hi Alice,

I'm the owner of a personal training business which has a manager, a supervisor and 6 trainers working for me. I have a problem with my manager who is a great guy, trustworthy, honest works hard...but he finds it impossible to be assertive, correct, chastise our supervisor who works directly under him...because they are such good friends and very similar in personality. They were both personal trainers which have come through the ranks, and are more the happy go lucky type than the managerial professional type. The problem with this industry is that it's extremely hard to find good staff, and they generally don't stay much more than 6months to a year either way. My manager and supervisor have been with me for 6 and 3 years respectively so I've been blessed to have them be so loyal.

But it's coming to the point where we are trying to run everything off processes. (Like Macdonalds) And this means more emphasis on compliance rather than skill. So now it makes a much bigger difference if my manager cannot make my supervisor compliant...because if my leaders are not being held accountable and compliant it's almost impossible to have the trainers follow suit, because the "knock-on" effect is pretty much blind leading the blind.

Any solutions?


Hi Rob,

I think it's important for you to sit down with your manager and point out to him the changes being made to the gym processes.  Tell him that he is a valued employee; you greatly appreciate his integrity, loyalty and work ethic.  Then explain why the changes are being made and how those changes will impact employee expectations; more accountability, etc.

Let him know what you expect from him with regard to ensuring compliance and accountability from those he supervises.  Explain that you understand he and the supervisor are friends; however, in the gym, his role as manager requires he takes action when necessary to correct behavior and provide feedback.    

Point out some areas of difficulty with the supervisor that you've observed and ask the manager what ideas he has to correct those deficiencies.  Offer him your support in providing him whatever he needs to do the job, managerial training, etc.

After the discussion, it may be a good idea for you and the manager to host a staff meeting and let all employees know about the changes, new expectations, and why the changes are being made.  Tell staff you know change is difficult and you expect there will be some ouches and pinches as the transition unfolds, but you are certain the changes will ultimately result in a more harmonious and professional work environment.     

It's important that you remember to model the behavior you want in your employees.  If your manager is not doing his job with regard to employee corrections, etc., it's your job to offer feedback to your manager about that and provide the tools he needs to do what needs to be done regarding employee correction.  Consider it the trickle down effect; you lead the way in showing your manager how to correct behavior to strengthen his ability to do the same with those he supervises.

Communication is vital during periods of change.  You will probably need to meet with your manager several times over the first few months to check in with how it's going, offer positive feedback, etc.  And, your manager should meet with his employees as well to check in, monitor morale, etc.  Of course, any employee correction should be done in private, one on one.

Take care.  I wish you well.

Alice J. Bogert  

Dealing with Employees

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Alice Bogert


Today's workplace is filled with many issues that impact employee performance and add to workplace stress. I have many years experience supervising employees and can field questions for both management staff and non-management staff related to employee conflicts, employee-boss issues, time management, negotiation skills, preparing employee performance evaluations, developing resources, generation X and Y issues, and cultural diversity.


I am a retired law enforcement officer, and I teach training classes around the country for law enforcement. I am also a consultant/trainer to private industry teaching numerous management development and supervisory courses. I teach report writing at a local junior college where I am an adjunct faculty member. I've also worked as a substitute teacher for grades K-12 and private tutor. I've been a facilitator for Volunteers in Victim Assistance, helping citizens/employees deal with community or work related traumas, and I've worked with abused and neglected children.

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