I came upon this item today and it stopped me in my tracks.
It read: “Punch someone in the face, you go to jail. Be a bad manager who ruins employees’ lives for years and you face no consequences. Why is that?”
It was posted on the blog of Alexander Kjerulf, also known as The Chief Happiness Officer. You can go there and give your opinion, if you like.
But before you do, read this quick account of a friend who works at a crazy-busy pediatrics office. It is a textbook case of bad management practice of how one manager’s poor people skills can upset and deflate years of harmony and productivity.
Start With A Veteran Staff
In this particular place, a new office manager is named every few years by someone in corporate to oversee this satellite facility.
What usually happens is the new manager arrives to find an experienced staff and things humming smoothly — and generally leaves well enough alone.
Sure, each new manager would bring their own style and quirks, likes and dislikes, and some changes, and the staff would need to adjust.
But they know their jobs so well, and have done them so well for so long, that the basics of what they did never really changed. They knew what needed to get done, the new manager recognized that, and always gave the staff leeway to do things in a way that was favorable to them and the organization. Win-win, yes?
Having cut their teeth, the manager would transfer to some other job in the corporation and someone new would show up. Happened every few years.
But the latest has been a disaster.
Add A Rookie Manager’s Mistakes
For the first three weeks, this new manager — a freshly minted MBA — holed up in her office, door closed and on the phone for hours with her VP, analyzing reports and whispering data.
There was little communication with the staff. She is by nature introverted, and so she struggled just to say hello in the mornings. No one knew her comings and goings, and she didn’t feel the need to share it.
After the first few weeks in her office, she disappeared almost entirely for the next few weeks, visiting other satellite offices to see how they did things, and spending time at “corporate.”
When she returned, it was another week or two of her closed-door management style.
During all this time, no one on staff had an inkling of what she was planning for them, except that it probably wasn’t going to be good.
People fill in the blanks, you know. This group of reliable, dedicated employees was no different. They sat around, wondered to each other what was coming — and they worried.
Finally, after three months, the new manager dropped her bomb. She called her first staff meeting to announce that the couple of openings that had yet to be filled would not be filled after all.
Everyone figured that was coming.
Then she went on to explain how her plans would require people to change their schedules, work duties, responsibilities, and even HOW a job was to be accomplished. it was going to be an almost total overhaul.
In spite of the disruptions she was about to cause, this manager had never once asked anyone for their input — the very people who had done these jobs well for many years.
People openly challenged her. They were angry and they felt betrayed.
What Happened To The Concept of Team Work?
Whether the new manager meant it this way or not, all the staff heard was “things are not up to par, and now I’m here to save you and to fix everything.”
Given her style, she probably expected a round of applause, and people said she seemed genuinely stunned by the negative response. That staff is very sour these days. No one likes coming to work any more.
My guess is because this staff is professional and resilient, they will eventually adjust and make their work fun again.
But you have to think that someone with a few good managerial skills would have implemented these changes much more smoothly and quickly, and with better bottom line results, too!
They would have helped people to “discover” new ways of doing things (wink-wink), and they would have raised people up from their daily routines by challenging them to find ways to consistently improve, and help their co-workers get better, too.
Does that sound like a fairly tale? Sure beats a punch in the face.