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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

10 Commandments of Good Employees

Ok, I spent two blog posts telling managers what is right and what is wrong on an interpersonal level concerning management styles. Now to be fair, I am going to cover what should be expected of a good employee.

1. Call out for appropriate reasons:

  • Emergencies - illness, injury, or accidents for instance. Clearly nobody wants you to spread your germs or further injure yourself, or come in all loopy from your medications.
  • Death - If you lose a loved one, nobody should expect you to come in on the day of their funeral, wake, etc. You should be mentally there for your job if you are at your job, and if your mind is full of grief, then clearly you need to deal with it. Any reasonable manager will accept this reason.
  • Family Emergency - similar to a personal emergency as listed above, this pertains to any relative that you are responsible for.
  • Dangerous weather conditions - If you cannot get there safely, call in or find somebody who has a vehicle more suited for the weather than you are. If your job requires you to work in bad weather, then obviously you have a problem with this one. 
  • Car broke down - Well, obviously! If you can't get to work, then you can't. But, you should at least see if there is a way around the problem.
These are the times sick days and personal days are meant for. Any reasonable boss will allow you to cash in on it. Inappropriate reasons are:  beautiful day, don't feel like it, sports game, and a myriad of other very selfish reasons. If you do for some reason do this, then I do hope that your job is a forgiving one and allows you to work from home/remotely as well as various other factors such as being permitted x number of days that you can do that. If that is the case, then you are a lucky lucky bugger.

2. Do your job right the first time. Yes, I know how tempting it is to do the minimum of your job, but how often will you have to go back and fix it? Why not take that same effort to do it right? Granted if you have a more efficient way of doing the job, then you should do it as long as it is something the managers are willing to be flexible on.

3. Gossip is for old hens. I know that the real national sport of any job is gossip, but consider the damage it causes to the people around you. Speaking of this, you should probably be careful what you say of yourself and what you do at work so that you aren't just creating gossip fodder. So why do we gossip? One reason is humans are social creatures. Our ancestors most likely came up with the concept when there was little else to do but survive. Where is Og hunting? Who is whose mate? Various important things that meant something back then, but don't really mean that much now for the most part. Another reason aside from boredom, is humans love getting news. Any kind of news. Good news, bad news, funny news, gross news, and so on. Whether we like to admit it or not, we enjoy it. However, taken to the degree that office gossip can be taken, gossip can ruin careers and social partnerships such as friendships and marriages. It is also considered by some a slanderous offense if taken far enough. Salacious gossip might be a tasty way to spice up your long boring day at work, but it can also cause somebody a lot of harm - even in joke form - if the wrong person hears it.

3. Bragging is a no no. Seriously, tooting your own horn is a one way ticket to causing people to either not take you serious or for them to start hating you. True or not, do try to tone it down and be humble. That way your real accomplishments can shine when you need them to, and it gives others a chance to pat you on the back. Still, don't do good for the sake of being rewarded, do it for the sake of doing good. It feels a lot better, especially if you didn't expect the boss to praise you for what you thought was an obscure good gesture or extra effort.

4. Dress for success. Most interviewers will admit that their first opinion of a person's ability to dress appropriately for a job interview or a promotions interview seriously affected their decision as to whether or not to give you the position. However, try to not out dress the interviewer. Find out ahead of time what is the expected dress of the place you wish to work, and then dress slightly better. Of course, there is a safe way to dress if you are not sure.'s list is pretty simple to follow. Click here for details. However, if you are applying for a position as a car washer, then obviously your best street clothes is more appropriate than suit and tie. Don't just assume that your charisma is enough. Not many people can swing it in frumpy clothes and a great personality.

5. RESPECT. Respect works both ways. If you give respect, you will deserve respect. Your position within a company does not affect this universal truth. Disrespect those around you, and you are just asking for confrontation, non cooperation, and other issues. Just think about it. Consider the simple fact that respect doesn't cost you anything, not even your dignity. How about using the Golden Rule? Treat others how you would have them treat you.

6. Do not throw your weight around. Seriously, nobody is impressed by it, you are not gaining respect by doing it, and all you are doing is earning resentment from those under you. And it sure as hell will make you look like Captain Bligh.

7. Honesty and Integrity. If you want people to trust you. If you want them to respect you. If you want to succeed. Then you must be honest and show integrity. That goes for everything you do at your job. Swiping office supplies might seem like a grey area, but theft is still theft. It costs the company money and if you cost your company money then you are picking away at your own income. It is a simple matter of give and take. Dishonesty is also a quick ticket towards the unemployment office, no matter what kind. Do you really think you are being sneaky? Honestly? In this day and age, there are ways they find things out.

8. Keep the office romance out of the office. If you some how find the one you love also works at your same place of business, then be more discreet about it. It doesn't matter if they don't mind, it just feeds the gossip lines, particularly if you opt for using an empty room in the office to have sex. Really? Is that really smart? Speaking as one with some experience in an office romance, it can bite you in the butt. His big mouth and macho need to go running around bragging about our romance caused me no end of grief since I am a private person and he's way way too open. After we broke up he started bragging about his rebound conquest and everybody at work thought he was talking about me. It was humiliating. Some consolation came from the fact that the boss fired the idiot loud mouth immediately upon finding out about his indiscretion.

9. Rivalries should not get out of hand. Say you and Bob are both excellent watch makers, for argument's sake.  Ok, the one problem is you both are rivals. You compete over everything. You beat him out of one contract, he beat you out of another. The problem - he works at the same company as you. This is a problem because you and him are both vying for the same promotion. There is only one spot open. Rivalries can be healthy to a certain extent since they encourage people to work harder at being better and improving upon your work. The problem is when you allow your rivalry to get out of hand and go to far. Say, you start telling people he does shoddy work, so he says you have no work ethic. False rumors give way to sabotage. Sabotage results in unfair advancement and resentments. Resentments result in allegations - false or otherwise. Eventually the truth gets out. You can see how things snowball from there.

10. Harassment is never cool. Do I really need to elaborate on this? Related to respect, this one is a huge one to remember! Stalking, skulking around, staring at, ogling, inappropriate comments and touch, and other inappropriate office behavior are unacceptable and a wonderful way to win yourself a free ride to the HR department's latest seminar on how you should treat your coworkers. Plus, they won't want to work with you.

~Liberty Justice - Just trying to be fair

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good Managers

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. ~ Paul Hawken

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work. ~ Peter Drucker

A good manager is a man who isn’t worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him. ~ HSM Burns

In my last post I spoke of the kinds of bad managers. Of course, I only listed the worst offenders. Every manager has their own style and while there is a basic formula for doing their job, there is enough lee way for some personal variation. We spoke about what the pitfalls are of the more extreme cases, though we didn't talk much on what happens when a manager is either not present or so laid back that nothing gets done. I figured it does not need much elaboration. I will, however, extol the virtues of a good manager.

According to Leadership 501 the following five traits are what makes a good manager or leader:
  • Honest
  • Inspiring
  • Forward-Looking
  • Competent
  • Intelligent
While this is very true, I would like to add something to the list: People skills. If you are incapable of listening to the needs of the people under you and only care about the bottom line and using them, then you are missing a vital aspect of good stewardship of your position. You must remember that your underlings are not tools, but people and as people they have needs and individual characteristics that require individual attention and treatment. If your group is too large for individual treatment, then you need to adapt and learn how to balance how you act accordingly, which is probably even smarter when you have any kind of group over all. Some people have thicker skins than others, allowing them to take sterner and harsher  treatment than others, others are much too sensitive for this and there is no shame in that. We are all different people, but if you treat people with mutual respect then generally you will find that you will recieve that same respect in return for your efforts. On the subject of respect, we are not saying it is necessary to be buddy buddy with them. I am also not saying you should remain coldly distant, either. Regardless of how you feel about Christian Ethics, the Golden Rule is always a winner - Treat others how you would wish to be treated. It's not that hard. As a plus, it also applies very nicely to how you treat your customers.

On that list we have Honesty mentioned. If you are honest, people will trust you. Simple, right? Even if you do not like the answer you get, the honesty will buy you some points with folks. Just try not to go so overboard that you would cause people to want to be standoffish. I am just saying don't lie - but why not hold back that little tidbit that you like to dress dogs in panty hose and make up, hm? Crazy don't sell. It certainly will make you either a laughing stock or treated like you could go whack-o. So, it is probably good to strike some kind of balance.

Inspiring managers or leaders are the easiest to follow. Sadly, even the worst leaders can gain a massive following if they are inspiring. Certainly explains some of our presidents, doesn't it? It sure as hell explains how Germany in the early 20th century chose Hitler for a leader. Really now? Really? Human psychology is built for wanting to follow the most promising figure, regardless of how competent or incompetent. The important thing to do is remember to not get all caught up in your own thing and fling your group into turmoil and chaos just as easily as being too tight or too laid back. My advice right here is be realistic in your goals, plans, and demands. Empty promises and shallow praise will only get you so far once your people realize the pot at the end of the rainbow is empty. Promise only what you can actually achieve, praise what is actually praise worthy.

Forward looking means simply that you are planning for the future. Just be realistic about it, though. I agree with Leadership 501's Mark Shead when he says that a visionary is a person 'whose ideas or projects are impractical.' It is very true to consider that the simple fact of the matter is there is a difference between planning for the future and creating unrealistic goals. You must consider the needs of the employees and clients. There is no siding with only one for this matter. A good manager knows how to prepare them self and their team for the most immediate futures and plan for various scenarios. I don't mean be paraniod, but in this case, it might not hurt. Plans for emergencies, missing members who called out sick, etc are all very important. Plans for how to improve are also important, you just need to be realistic for what you have. Polishing floors might be a great idea for a show room where you are showing off some glitzy jewelry or fancy electronics, but doing the same for a warehouse store can be a very dangerous and bad idea. Sam's Club did that very same thing in the name of making it more like a normal store in one of their stores. In the end, the floors were too slick for the forklifts, thus creating more accidents. It also wound up loosing its sheen within four or five months thereby making it a rather wasted effort and cost.

Competence is pretty self explanatory. I'll keep this one short.  Competence is knowing what to do and when to do it. It is also knowing when not to do it. More importantly, how to do your job. In all honesty, if you can't do the job of your underlings, then you probably shouldn't be a manager. In the very least not of that particular group. There is a saying in sales that goes 'know your product', well it applies to your staff as well as your business. If you cannot do the job, then at least have a working knowledge of how it works, or in the very least be willing to listen to what they tell you they are capable of doing.

I am not getting into the intelligence. You either are smart or you aren't. Its just common sense that needs to be worked on from there. IQ can take you only so far, but do not mistake a vast amount of knowledge for intellect. Yes, it is important to be smart, but with a lack of knowledge and skills, you really cannot expect to take your team very far. Knowledge is power as the saying goes. Just don't confuse knowledge for intellect. Even Rain Man knew a lot of facts, but he was not necessarily a genius.

So what is management?

“Management” (from Old French ménagement “the art of conducting, directing”, from Latin manu agere “to lead by the hand”) characterises the process of leading and directing all or part of an organization, often a business, through the deployment and manipulation of resources (human, financial, material, intellectual or intangible). …

Be a guide to your people, firm but gentle. Compassionate, but not to the point where your position means nothing. Just remember to balance things out. Remember that the Chain of Command was never meant to be used as a bludgeon. A good manager is like a good shepherd. The shepherd guides his flocks, not by screaming at his sheep, but by protecting them from the wolves and lions, and by providing them what they need to do their thing. A safe bet is that if managers are to act like shepherds, then you can bet their flocks will follow them.

Bad Managers, NO!

Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.
~Ross Perot

No business in the world has ever made more money with poorer management. ~ Bill Terry

Management. Where do I start? Shall I address the all too common way things are handled or state the ideal first. Perhaps I should start with the former first, since that is the real reason for this post. The latter will only be a proper set of suggestions.

Unlike the US government, our leaders - be they corporate or local - within our companies in which we work are each picked by somebody without our consent or input. Or rather, seldom is the case. In the case of some companies the choice seems rather arbitrary and as though they were either just upper management's favorites, related to somebody, or just basically drawn from a hat. The problem with picking people based on how you feel about them, rather than their actual capability and people skills, is that in the end, you either wind up with a really good manager or supervisor, or a really really bad manager in some sense of the definition. Hear me out. There are some managers who are so laid back, just about anything can happen as long as nothing is stolen, damaged, or hurting anybody. While that isn't necessarily bad in and of itself, it can become a problem on the customer's end of things where nothing is getting done, there is no set priority to consider, nor is there anything to really work with if an emergency comes into play. Though the odds of a manager being that lazy are about as high as finding that really cool substitute teacher who lets everybody goof off and gives you an extra half hour of recess when you were a kid. It almost never happens. The other kind is the kind that rather irks me to no end. The kind who feels they need to justify their jobs.

Before I go on any further with those kinds of comments, I should note the different kinds of [bad] managing styles:

You have the Screamer or Drill Sergeant, who feels it is necessary to yell at you for everything they feel is wrong and seems to have a personal need to debase you and all you do.

Yeah, that's super motivating, right? Not for me. This kind of tactic is only effective on a small selection of people and over all, they are pretty worthless as managers. At best, they can motivate a good employee to become a bad one, and pretty much make a lot of wounded people.


And then there is the Chatty Cathy who basically wants to blather on and on when you are trying to do your job, but expect you to stop what you are doing so you can listen and yet expect you to be done on time. Seriously, at this point I don't think I need to elaborate how wrong it is to have those kinds of expectations.

Not to be mean, but either allow the associate/employee to keep working while you talk, or be brief and then shut up and go away. While you're at it, don't talk down to them and act like they have the IQ of beef jerky. Some people are way smarter than they let you know, don't assume everybody is a moron. Go ahead and test the waters to see how smart they are by giving basic directions and what they need, then allow them to make mistakes.


Then there is the Stalker. Oh the bane of all workers' existence, that one manager who is constantly watching every single thing you do to see if and when and how you screw up. They will do this either make people work harder and not slack off or to hunt for some kind of flaw to allow them to weed out people that they do not like.

Ok, we get your reasons, but please back off. It is severely creepy and considered illegal in all other contexts. Think about it. Would you want somebody staring at you all day with that sour look? Or even a smile? There is absolutely no need for that kind of bad behavior in this day and age. Its bad enough that it is necessary to have video surveillance, but stalking folks and treating it like it is part of your job is a bad thing unless you are a spy or an undercover cop. You aren't fooling anybody by your 60 minute smoke breaks in the parking lot as you watch the cart guys push the carts around. You aren't even being cleaver when you are pretending to take particularly long drinks at the water cooler to see which employees are taking a minute too long on their fifteen minute breaks. Its not cool, ever, so quit it and try to trust your employees more. Nothing loses you more respect and trust like pretending [badly I might add] to be James Bond and Joe Cool all wrapped into one.


Of course, you have the Always Busy manager who is in the building and might even have a walkie talkie depending on the business and yet, despite never being seen as doing anything in particular, they always reply that they are really busy.

Sure, you might be busy and you might not look it, but you should make more of an effort to at least offer a suggestion to help your poor stranded employees. This one is more understandable, but still very frustrating to deal with as both a customer and an employee. You should learn to follow your own efficiency advice and possibly set up a protocol for common situations. Don't just brush off your employees. It might be important! Employees, this part is for you, please respect the fact that though administrative work often looks like nothing is being done, they do get paid the higher salaries for a reason - heavier work loads, longer hours, and more demands that they have to meet by a certain deadline. Both sides should try to be more reasonable on this one.


The Mood Swinger. Oh gosh. This one is one of the worst to work with. Male or Female, this one comes off like they are in the midst of the world's worst case of menopause or PMS. Wow, just wow.

Yes. Yes it is as scary to observe as the picture above. One moment things are fine and you're doing right, then the next moment - often the very next time you see them - they are flying off at the handle at you for small reasons or almost no reason at all. TAKE A CHILL PILL AND BREATHE!!!!! Honestly, I cannot stress to you how important it is to control your temper, even if it means getting your bipolar butt to a psychiatrist for some therapy and happy pills. Please, don't abuse your employees with this tripe. It takes an emotional toll on folks and can make happy, healthy, sane adults want to do something really bad to deserve it, or self harmful. It isn't even good for you, either. Take a breath, think it over, calm down, and find a better way to handle the situation. Very few situations ever call for yelling, and those all involve an emergency.


And finally, we have Robo-boss. The one that writes you up for the tiniest infraction, real or imagined. The one who feels that throwing around their authority makes them important. They are also notoriously impossible to please with their constant bar raising.

Either you are just trying to enforce every rule by over-reacting and even making up some of your own rules, or you are just itching for a promotion. Some flexibility is a good thing. Now obviously you don't want to allow people to steal store supplies or product, so that's an acceptable thing to deal with. Punishing somebody for calling out sick too often, even if they have a doctor's note for every time, is overboard. Cheating on their time clock in some way is another example of an OK reason to scold or write up the employee. Chewing out employees for unwritten rules and regulations that are only in your head and not the employee handbook is an example of abuse of power. The list goes on. Seriously, it is no way to win friends, but it also is no way to prevent a bad turn over rate. Unless you like the process of constantly having to interview new people who then need to be trained once they are let in, only to have them quit within six months or you fire them by that point, then you should probably back off on the nitpicking and learn to give at times.


There are many good managers too, but that's for my next post. This one was just important to me because in order to point out the good, you need to know what is bad. Its really important for you to take into consideration the needs of the individuals and not just the corporate entity as a whole. Remember: The chain of command was never meant to be used to beat the employees. It is meant as a way of protecting both the employees and management as a whole from he said, she said and over all a very good way to cover your butts.

~Liberty Justice, Maligned Employee of a Super Club

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Welcome to Liberty Justice's Verbose Ramblings

Hey all, it's me, Liberty Justice. Due to the sensitive nature of some of my posts which could cost me my job, anger certain relatives, or possibly cause some kind of online backlash - I am writing under a pseudonym. This is a time honored tradition and another way of saying I desire to remain anonymous. No, not that 'Anonymous', but as the term means without my true identity being known.

The main purpose of this blog is so that I have a place to get things off my chest, and even allow for some kind of reaction - be it rebuttal or commentary. Please bear in mind, I understand that some of these posts might result in a flame war, but I ask of all of you who read this to please be respectful and mindful of other people's opinions. I am a mature blogger and I am hoping for a mature audience, or at least one that will be respectful of my opinions.

In no way do I mean in any of my posts to be offensive or sound off color, but from time to time, I may quote or say things that may make you think that. I comment on everything from politics, to shopping, to anime, to whatever I feel like talking about. Let's just have some fun with our Second Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press. And yes, Liberty Justice is from the USA, but prefers to not elaborate much further.