Continually get feedback from Boss about being more assertive
Over the last few months, I hear my boss say to me more and more that I need to well...grow a pair. I'll tell my boss about a situation with a direct, that I felt I handled the best that I could and sometimes will mention that I wished I would have said "x". After I state this to my boss, they say, "why didn't you say that!! You need to grow a pair."
An example would be recently, I had an employee that was having a slight meltdown about working with a particular person. This employee continued to complain about the other person, even after they were coached to go talk with the person they are having an issue with. During the meltdown the employee said, "I know you told me take the high road, but I'm not going to. I don't care what they think, I want nothing to do with them." The unreasonable behavior continued and I was almost at the point of sending the person home but realizing that if I sent them home it would dramatically affect the shift because we would have no coverage. I just soothed them to get them through the night, knowing I should have done the right thing, made a point and sent them home that they can not behave the way they were behaving.
Today, I had a highly compensated senior team member snap at me infront of the team when one of the night shift team members called in. The senior team member stated - "She's in charge of employees, she can take the call from him!" (Another team member was calling in to say they were going to be late and protocol states they are to speak with a senior team member or one of the office managers - if I wasn't there, the person that snapped would have been the person to take the call) I was already in the middle of dealing with two client issues at that time and when this team member stated that infront of others, I was floored and didn't know how to respond quickly or appropriately. I just walked off but after the fact I knew I should have said something like - "Yes, I'm in charge of employees, but right now I'm handling two customer service issues and you are a senior team member, so please handle the call it will take just a few moments." Granted that was my well thought out response way after the fact. The only reason she stated for me to take the call was because I was there in front of her, in the building. When I came around the corner her response was getting ready to be my name but it quickly changed to something much more inappropriate.
It's like I can't think quickly on my feet of what to say so I walk away feeling less of a manager and then when I have a minute (after the situation) know what I would have said. When these situations happen I always end up having that frozen feeling. Almost like - did that person really just say that to me?
I'm tired of being disrespected but I just can't seem to come up with a timely response when it happens. I have found when I know a situation through and through I can respond appropriately - like in a disciplinary meeting - I know the facts, I can stick to the points and usually I can't get thrown from that horse too easily. I might get flustered but I stay calm. Where as these like sorta off the cuff moments, I just freeze and can't figure out what to say to stop the disrespect.
I'm concerned that my constant lack of assertiveness is what will break me as a manager. I don't want to fail just because I continually don't speak up for myself or for the situation when the time is right.
Anyone have experience with this, or a great way to think on your feet in these situations?