The Whiplash Manager

Sarah’s employees couldn’t say her comment surprised them.  Hardly anything she did surprised them anymore.   Still, there were a few raised eyebrows when she made her latest comment in front of the entire department.  It wasn’t the content of what she said, but rather that it was a complete reversal of the guidelines she used for everyone else.

Sarah’s employees always knew when someone fell out of favor with her and that she was ready for them to leave the company.  Suddenly, all she would notice was the bad things the employees did.  Her focus became laser pinpointed on how she could spin an action to something that was wrong.  Market the product three different ways?  Why not five?  You must be lazy.  Have something on the server that she needed, but the entire network was down?  No matter!  You should have fixed the server yourself or forced IT to get it done faster somehow.  It was your fault!  Stand up for yourself?  Never mind that she had encouraged everyone to speak their mind.  You were simply insubordinate!  When called on this, she didn’t even deny it, just met the accusation with more derogatory remarks.  All of this, of course, was to build her case that the person in question was not a fit employee.  She could then point to the ‘evidence’ that she had concocted and get the person fired.  No one higher up or in authority seemed to question these tactics, just that the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed on the separation papers.

So, with this knowledge, you can see why there were some raised eyebrows when, in the middle of a full department staff meeting discussing the abysmal employee relations scores the department had received (gosh, wonder why?), Sarah says, “Well, we should look at the good things on the report.”  The queen of finding the dark side of things is emphasizing the good suddenly?

Of course, even a cursory glance, her employees knew what was going on.  Sarah was not dumb.  She knew that the numbers could at least be partly attributable to her unique form of personnel management.  What was the best way to remedy it?   Stop tearing people down?  Help fix the problems rather than have a concerted campaign to get rid of the person?  Face the fact that your subjective judgement may be, dare we say, wrong?  Nah!  Put lipstick on the pig.  Distract everyone from the problem by only focusing on the happy shiny stuff.  And always keep a straight face doing it.

What is your view of your employees?  Disposable assets which can be interchanged at any time you choose, once they have lost your favor.  Or, are they true assets which you rely upon to accomplish your goals and move your business forward?  What is more important to you, letting your ego have free rein by showing how you can use or abuse your power, or learning how to grow, develop, or, when needed, correct your employees so they can meet the needs of the business?  One path leads to a well running and highly respected department.  The other leads to a dispirited group who comes in for their paycheck and little else.

Do you treat them as intelligent human beings, or blank automatons on who you can pull anything over while knowing they can’t or won’t say thing one to you?  Do you insult their intelligence because you know you can and get away with it?

Is most of your time spent making excuses or finding excuses instead of finding ways for development and growth?  If it is, then I would suggest you find a better use of your time.  Please, for your employees sake, put that creative energy to purposes that build and engage, instead of obfuscate and destroy.


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