Man’s Best Friend… Dog or Manager?

9 Jun

It’s been said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but this employee believes his supervisor isn’t a friend to man or beast:

“If my manager treated a dog the way he treats my teammates and me, he would get sued for cruelty.”

This employee works for a company whose overall employee engagement scores (as measured by the survey conducted by Quantum Workplace) is far from acceptable, and the company is suffering as a result. We are simply befuddled how companies continue to tolerate managers whose treatment of employees makes them feel this way. Unfortunately, many of us have had personal experience working for such managers. In fact, a recent Gallup survey reported that more than half of all U.S. workers would fire their bosses if they could.

The penalty employers pay for bad managers is poor customer care and loyalty, to which numerous studies clearly point. Among the verbatim comments in Quantum’s Best-Places-to-Work surveys we came across this nurse’s lament about how the “disease-ridden” culture at the hospital where she works is negatively affecting patient care:

“I have been a nurse for over 20 years and this is by far the worst hospital I have ever worked in.  Management does not treat employees with respect, nor do employees feel as if they are valued members of a team.  Managers are also unprofessional and condescending.  In addition, patient safety is often compromised and nothing is done to rectify the problems.”

Anyone interested in being admitted to that hospital? The same dynamic happens in every industry-disengaged employees simply don’t take care of customers the way engaged employees do, and the business suffers as a result.

Thankfully, supervisors don’t have to act in ways that create these feelings. For employees to be productive, they cannot be treated like yesterday’s garbage. If treated with respect, care, and consideration, most employees will respond in kind and offer even greater effort in their work and service to customers. Here’s a comment from another employee who works for a company recognized as a “Best Places to Work”, and talks quite differently about the relationship he has with his supervisor:

“My manager is really aware of our work load, and how difficult our work is. He is always there if we have a problem, and always willing to look at our work and help us figure out how to solve the problem. He really values our work, and makes sure that we know it.”

Wouldn’t you rather work for this manager? This kind of manager engenders loyalty and effort, which is even more important in these more challenging economic times. This is the kind of manager that employees point to and say, “There’s the one you want to work for.”

In writing Re-Engage we wanted to contrast the difference between effective and lousy managers. For those who make their employees feel like they’re being treated like rabid animals, maybe we should set up a companion organization to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in this case the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans”, where we could turn these disengaging supervisors in for citation and reassignment into a job where they can do no more harm. On a more serious note, we recommend reading Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human, in which we she reminds us that all animals, human and otherwise, have feelings that can be positively or negatively engaged, and respond very well to praise.

Photo originally uploaded on Flickr by Dan65

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