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Thursday, June 16, 2011

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

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