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Direct Reports

Direct Reports

Author: James Howard

This lesson is an overview of how to managers should interact with their direct reports

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Video Transcription

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Hello and welcome to this tutorial on direct reports. Now as always with these tutorials, please feel free to fast forward, pause, or rewind as many times as you need in order to get the most out of the time that you'll spend here. Now let me ask you a question off the bat. What does a good boss look like?

Hmm. Have you ever stopped and thought about that? Have you had bosses before that were good? Have you had some that were not so good? Well during this tutorial, what we're going to be looking at are caring about direct reports, those people who directly report to you. We're also going to be talking about fairness to direct reports and confronting direct reports. Now there are no key terms for this lesson, so let's go ahead and start talking about caring about direct reports.

Now a good manager is always going to care about the direct reports, and not just how they're doing at their jobs. That's going to extend, well, to things that are going to affect their jobs and may not necessarily originate in the office. You're always going to want to make sure that you're taking care of your direct reports.

You play, as a manager, a huge role in these people's lives. How many times do you hear about people talking about their boss at the dinner table, good or bad? You're going to make up a lot of conversation, and you're going to be spending more time with these folks probably than their spouses in some cases. So you want to make sure that whenever you get a chance you're taking that chance to take care of your direct reports.

Now some examples of taking care of direct reports is you want to make sure that you're showing interest, not only in the work, but also in their non-work lives. What is it that drives them? What do they show interest in? What is it that they're bringing to the work site that may be affecting their work that's originating well, from somewhere else?

We want to ask about their plans. What are there problems? What are there desires? What do they want to do with their lives? And by getting to know your folks and caring about your direct reports you can help them-- one, be better employees for you, but also you can help them move up that career ladder and move up that path to where they see as being successful.

You want to make sure that you're available to listen mainly, and also to talk about personal problems. Because as much as we like to think that we are great at compartmentalizing and keeping our various parts of our lives apart, it's not always that way. And a lot of times you're going to have direct reports that are going to bring huge, horrible, personal problems to the work site. And if you can help them get through that or be that shoulder that they can talk to-- one, you're going to help them with that personal problem, but you're also going to help them get back on track as far as the job is concerned.

Lastly, we want to make sure that we're staying aware of the workloads that these people put in. Your people work and they work hard. And it's always a good thing if the boss can take that extra time to appreciate that work, and especially if it's extra effort these folks are putting in. Make sure you set the time aside to say a simple thank you sometimes. That's all it takes.

Now fairness to direct reports. Now managers, well, they got to be fair to direct reports, obviously. You have to be fair. You can't have favorites and you have to treat people equally.

Now some examples of this is well, make sure you're treating all your direct reports equally and equitably. Make sure that what you would do for one you would do for everybody else, you're not holding that favorite. Make sure that you're acting fairly when it comes to your direct reports. Don't throw all of the horrible, bad jobs that nobody wants to do on one particular person. Make sure you're spreading that around and make sure that when people do a good job you're telling them.

Make sure you have candid discussions with your employees and your direct reports. Make sure that when you talk to them you're able to talk to them directly, you're not using flowery language to beat around and around and around and around the bush. You want to make sure that you can have a conversation where you can get in there, talk about what you need to talk to them about, and then everybody move on with their day. They're busy and you're busy, and sometimes you don't have time to go all the way around.

Lastly, we want to make sure that you're not using ulterior terrier motives. No office politics, folks. People who are used as an ulterior motive, especially if a boss is using them for personal gain, it's not being very fair to the direct report, for one, and it's not going to be very good for their productivity either.

Lastly, what about confronting direct reports? Like I said before, we're not all perfect, and we're going to mess up. And you're going to have people who mess up who work for you, these direct reports. So how is it that we handle those things?

Well, first of all, you have to make sure that your direct reports understand that a good manager-- and we're going to be good managers-- the good manager cares about their well being. Now, a manager who confronts direct reports, they're going to make sure they deal with those problems firmly. You want to make also sure that you're dealing with them in a timely manner. Don't let problems sit and fester. The longer you let them fester, the more people are going to think that that behavior is acceptable where you work. And if it's not, you want to make sure that we deal with these things firmly and also as soon as you find out about it.

Regularly review their performance. If they're doing a bad job or they need to improve in some areas, let them know. But don't let them know where you're just coming down on them, making them feel horrible. Make sure you're reviewing their performance so they understand where they are. They may not know that they have a problem. They may think they're doing great. But it's your job to make sure that they know where they can make those improvements but also not only that they have to make an improvement, but also how or what steps they can take to improve themselves.

Also, a good manager is not going to be overly afraid of making decisions that may, at first glance, be seen as negative by the direct reports. There are certain situations where you're going to have to give an instruction or tell someone to do something that is just not going to be very popular. And the best thing we can do in this case is simply get in there and do it. Make sure they know that you care about them. This is not the time to let them know that you care, that should be evident before you ever have to make these bad or difficult decisions. So make sure that one, they understand it's not a personal thing, but two, make sure they understand what that negative decision means for the whole company. And they understand where it is that everyone's coming from and why it's important that we had to make this decision in the first place.

So what is it we talked about today? Well, we looked at caring about direct reports. We also looked at fairness to direct reports, how do I treat my folks fairly. And last, we talked about confronting those direct reports when sometimes you just have bad news.

So as always folks, I really want to thank you for spending some time with me today. And you folks have a good day.

Notes on "Direct Reports"


(00:00 – 00:31) Introduction

(00:32 – 00:48) Overview

 (00:49 – 03:35) Caring About Direct Reports

(03:36 – 05:14) Fairness to Direct Reports

(05:15 – 07:48) Confronting Direct Reports

(07:49 – 08:13) Recap