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This was my first time managing anyone. The job is to hand out flyers with coupons to people in public.

The previous team leads had played the system telling people when they have given away a certain number they are allowed to go home early. This is definitely not what the higher-ups want and we're getting paid by the hour for a full shift.

So today I was the supervisor and people were refusing to work. They would just sit there complaining they were tired, when I wasn't looking probably throw the flyers in the trash, then asked if they could go home. To me going home a bit early may be reasonable, but these people wanted to go home several hours early. The previous team leads had let people go home up to two hours early but today it seemed like they were expecting me to let them go after 3 or 4.

I told my manager this and he said don't try to fix it from my end. So how should I respond when someone asks if they can go home? What I'd like to say is "I'm not forcing you to do anything but if someone asks me if you were working I'm not going to lie". My team was literally telling me to take pictures of them early, and send them to the head office at a later time to make it look like they were working.

I don't mind a little bit of slacking off but it seems like everyone assumes I'm crooked. I was in their position recently, they got rid of the previous team lead and made me the new one.

  • Could you please clarify what your actual question is? As it is now, your posting reads more like a rant than a question for us to answer. What is your goal? What do you want to achieve or change in your current situation? – Niko1978 May 16 at 7:31
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    @Niko1978 sorry I didn't mean to come across as ranting. My question is how should I respond when someone asks me if they can go home when the shift is obviously not done? What should I say? If someone does leave should I report them to my manager, I never was asked to do this? – JayT May 16 at 7:47
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You should refuse politely. Tell them they are free to leave early if they want but you would have to mark that they have only completed so many hours ( i.e. the actual hours they have worked). Since its an hourly job, they will be paid in proportion to the time they have put in. Its a matter of your personal ethics / integrity and you would not lie to anyone for them. You should not have to lie for anyone.

If you are afraid that people will get rid of you for standing up for being right, then you need to handle this by keeping management in loop. The management may not fix your problem for you, but they certainly should be aware that you are facing this problem and what you are doing to address it. If they give their buy in for your action plan, then I think the possibility of being made redundant will be reduced. Keep it documented though.

Since you mentioned you were in their position, do you have any friends in there who can back you? Mind you, management / supervision changes people attitude and the relation will not be the same. You just need to find the middle ground. For some it could be reaching out on personal level, for some it could be dealing politely and for some it could be dealing with a strict hand.

It could be that since you are new, people are trying to size you up and see how much freebies they can extract from you. If you give in once, more will be expected. People will keep pushing you till they find your red line. Its important to establish that early as well in consistent manner.

Similarly, people not willing to work - you will have to come up with some measurement criteria. e.g. you could take an average of number of flyers expected to be distributed per hour and measure them against this. Hold yourself accountable to same standard if needed.

This will be painful in the short term and people will complain. You need to get used to this and keep management in loop. I think it can go either way, but there is no easy fix for the situation that you are in. Good luck.

  • I think yes. Every place has an attendance mechanism , e.g. how do you handle when someone calls in sick? Do you allow half days? The finance needs to know who work how many hours, that should ideally come from you and you can report lesser number of hours worked. Try and find out more on how this is managed in your org. – Rishi Goel May 16 at 7:51
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I told my manager this and he said don't try to fix it from my end. So how should I respond when someone asks if they can go home?

This would be a good conversation to continue with your manager. He's aware of it happening, and he doesn't believe it's your responsibility to fix it, so ask him how he'd like you to handle it.

What I'd like to say is "I'm not forcing you to do anything but if someone asks me if you were working I'm not going to lie".

This is hard when you're (I assume) young and new to a supervisor position, and authority will come with time and experience, but this doesn't sound like a good line to me. You're not "forcing" them to do anything, true, but you do expect them to work their full shift. And as their supervisor you should say so. Something like "I expect you to stay for your full shift, and I'm not going to lie about the hours you've worked" sounds better to me. If you don't expect them to stay then just say you don't intend to lie, but don't erode your authority by telling them they can disregard you and do what they like (even if they can, you don't need to reinforce that).

My team was literally telling me to take pictures of them early, and send them to the head office at a latter time to make it look like they were working.

Don't do this, and make it clear that you won't. I think you already know that this would be unethical and leave you in a compromised position, and I'd like to reassure you that you're completely right in not wanting to report fraudulent hours on behalf of others.

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    +1 Your manager has already told you that you don't have to fix this problem. So follow his instructions, and ask for more help from him on how to do your paperwork. Don't ask him to write it down, just to tell you. Sure, it seems like a serious problem to you. But pick your battles wisely. Give yourself time to figure out your new job before you try to clean everything up. – O. Jones May 16 at 11:32
  • "don't ask him to write it down"? Why? You think he's trying to keep this "off the record"? – Bwmat May 16 at 13:26
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These are the things I'd say would be expected of a supervisor:

  • Not to let staff take advantage of yourself or the company,
  • Make management aware of any issues,
  • Follow management's guidelines in how to deal with the issue (in this case, there are none),
  • Outlining to management how you believe the issue can be fixed.

As long as you done the above, you are doing what you're suppose to be doing. The previous team leader's actions have led to certain expectation from the staff, which may lead to staff slacking even more than before, as they see it as loosing a benefit, even if it is a benefit they never should have had in the first place. I hope this doesn't reflect badly on you as their supervisor, although it might, which is why you also need to think about how to fix the issue.

Whilst I disagree that letting people go early is okay without the management's agreement, there are studies that show that same amount of work can be done in less hours since employees are happy to go home early. One of the solutions may be to indeed do offer staff ability to go home early once certain amount of leaflets are given out (you need to have a good idea on how many are given out during full work hours, and make that the target,) however, don't do it without management's permission. Other ideas may be team building days, transport to and from work allowance or staff outings if certain targets are met.

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I told my manager this and he said don't try to fix it from my end.

Ask your manager what you should do when people ask to go home early, then do what your manager tells you to do.

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