During 32 years of work, I supervised over 100 different members of staff in various libraries. Some of those that I supervised became life-long friends, others I have kept in touch with, some I’ve lost track of, and a few didn’t seem to like the way I managed.
Of those who, in turn, managed me, one was an idiot, another was a drunkard, but most of the others were quite good managers.
My best manager was Kay Raseroka, at the University of Botswana. She knew her stuff, knew what was happening, worked very hard and could be a hard taskmaster, but lead well. Steve Mwiyeriwa at the University of Malawi was also an excellent manager. Even so, not all of the staff they supervised always felt the same way about Kay and Steve as I did.
A few years ago, there was a written complaint made against me by someone I supervised. I can’t go into detail, of course, but the complaint was about how I had been supervising the member of staff in question, who felt very aggrieved. I was shown the complaint, and responded in writing by, as far as I was concerned, answering the complaint.
What should then have happend was that my boss should have considered both the complaint and the response, and dealt with it, or more likely pass it on to Human Resources to deal with.
If the complaint had been felt to be justified or partially justified, and presumably there would have been further discussion, I should have been informed, and advised on how to change my supervisory ways, or even, possibly, moved to another task, etc.
If the complaint had been felt not to be justified, and again presumably there would have been further discussion, the person who made the complaint should have been informed, and given reasons for the decision.
What actually happened was that nothing happened. My boss did nothing. The complaint was left to fester. The person who made the complaint, and myself, avoided each other.
After a couple of months, when I found out that nothing had been done, I contacted Human Resources myself, explained the situation and gave them copies of the complaint and my response. They explained that doing nothing was not an option, and they contacted my boss.
Things festered some more, and still my boss did nothing. I don’t even know whether the person who made the complaint was shown my response.
Eventually, through my own choice, I moved on to other project work which happened to not involve supervising the person who had made the complaint.
This case is an example of bad top management that caused angst and hard feeling, that should have been dealt with, one way or another. No-one learnt anything from what happened. Both parties felt aggrieved. Nothing was resolved.