Let's make the world a better place

The other day I got my hair cut at a new place. Spitfire recommended it. It's one of those cheapish places that used to be a Fantastic Sam's but was then bought out. The kind where a haircut and style costs $10. But Spitfire says she's gone there several times and has always been happy with what they've done.

So I went and the girl did a great job. I got a cut, style, and highlights for $35. Woot!

BUT, as we were talking, we got around to the subject of managers we've had and frustrating work situations we've been in, and she told me this gem: The owner of the salon does not give them raises. At all. Ever. I asked how that works out with the whole cost of living increase and she says they just don't get anything. The owner says they can feel free to raise their rates once they get a loyal clientèle, but I think that's kind of ridiculous. This isn't a fancy schmancy salon. It's the kind of place people go to because they don't want to spend a lot of money on their hair. If the prices get raised they'll just go someplace else, or they'll ask for a cheaper stylist.

So of course there is a lot of employee turnover at this place. But there is one woman who has been working there for 5 years without a raise. Which basically means that she's earning less now than she was 5 years ago.

I swear it's like there's crack in some people's water.

This did get me thinking, though, about an article I read once. The writer said you should start a notebook and keep it throughout your working life. For every job (or every manager) you have, you write down the things that you like about their style and the things you most definitely do not like. That way when you get to be a manager you might actually reap some benefit from all those nights when you raged to your friends/parents/goldfish about how if your boss gives you One More Reason then you will quit in some huge blowout gesture that will most likely involve profanity, gasoline, and matches.

So. I want to start working on my list of Things To Not Do When I'm Running the World. Most of these are possibly but not necessarily absolutely taken from managers I've had in the past. Because I've had lots. And if any of them stumble across this and recognize themselves, well then I think they know what they need to start working on. And they should probably thank me.

The List

When my employees make mistakes, I will reassure them that it's okay and that they're not fired and that they're not even in trouble because it's the kind of thing that could happen to anyone (if indeed that is the case). I will not immediately afterwards blab to everyone else in the office exactly what they did so that I can hold them up as a bad example.

I will not expect my employees to become my surrogate family/friends/children, or to treat each other as such.

I will not cry in front of my employees. Unless I have to because I've just fallen down the stairs or something, because that would really hurt.

I will not inflict my own freakish preferences of desk cleanliness upon people to such an extent that it impedes their ability to work.

I will not come to work if I'm so hopped up on medication that I don't even know what the crap I'm saying or doing.

I will not begrudge people their vacation time, or make judgments about whether or not I feel they're using it on worthwhile things. It's Not. My. Business.

I will not tell racist or sexist jokes in the workplace, and I will bring the smack down on people who do.

I will be willing to stand up for my employees if they complain about a working situation that is truly unacceptable.

When hiring, I will not ask illegal questions about religion, race, family, or family planning. I will not completely disregard single female applicants and instead just hand the job to some guy with 5 kids because "he needs it more."

So. That's just the beginning of my list. Anyone want to help me out here with their own contributions? Make those comments as long as you want. If you're feeling positive, you could also include some items of things your bosses have done that you've really admired or appreciated as well!


Nerd Goddess said... [reply]

I will always include paystubs. Always. Even if I'm running two places at once and don't have time to eat.

I will never give a huge, important assignment to the new girl, because she says she can do wedding cakes. AND if I do, for some reason, have to do that, I will go in and watch/help her like I said I would.

If one of my employees asks for help, or needs to talk to me, I will not say "call me back" and then promptly turn off my phone.

Jenny said... [reply]

One of my bosses would by us all lunch sometimes. That was rad. You should do that. And my last boss looked for ways to get me more money and more experience. And he gave me his contact info if I ever needed a reference. You should do that for people.

Th. said... [reply]


I will be tolerant of people who Can't Stop Singing.

blackjazz said... [reply]

I had a new boss once who gave me a job to do which would take several days, then checked up on me every hour or so to find out how I was progressing. When I answered his questions he had this look on his face as though he was going to die.

After this happened enough times I responded to the dying look by saying that I was obviously useless and he'd better sack [fire] me. A look came over his face and he left.

I later found out that he went to get me sacked, but his boss told him not to be so stupid. She also apologised to me for his behaviour, explaining that he was under a lot of pressure. Oddly enough, we got on a lot better after that.

I once read somewhere that the 3 worst things to do if a project is late are:
1. Upset the staff.
2. Hold daily progress meetings.
3. Introduce new staff.

One place I worked did all 3. The department manager held a meeting and shouted at everybody - with obvious consequences. They held daily meetings, wasting our time. And new people came in who didn't have a clue, so we had to train them.

Cicada said... [reply]

I will not change rules/standards without telling anyone and then hold my employees up to these new unstated rules.

I will not notice a huge production cost discrepancy (the difference between $3000/year/product and $10,000/year/product) and conclude that my employees have suddenly all decided to become unproductive and need closer monitoring.

Cicada said... [reply]

I will not wear ripped, second-hand clothing, unstyled hair, and no makeup to work and pretend to be a professional.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Hey, one of my most fabulous skirts is second-hand!

We're fighting.

Except not really because I absolutely know what you mean.

Kristeee said... [reply]

A apologize in advance. You hit a nerve! But I have good suggestions, I promise.

I will not expect my employees to read my mind or smell my thoughts. When they ask me specific questions I will not tell them to use their discretion, but then make them redo it multiple times until they match what I want and could've told them in the first place.

I will not ever give someone 2 post-it notes to transcribe when she says "I have nothing to do" and there are 3 hours left in the day.

I will delegate responsibilities and not be so anal as to think that I am the only one capable of doing things the right way and assume that my employees can't get things right (even when they charge the company a fifth of what I do and it would be way more cost-effective to have them do it).

I will not tell a recently engaged female employee (who's already insecure about things as it is!) that well, we managers had talked about the dangers of hiring single people who might become engaged and we had talked about firing someone once it happened because engaged people are spacey. Even if I think it's a funny joke.

I will not insist that I know everything about computers and make myself the only resource for tech support in the office. I have better things to do.

When I've been such a control freak to insist that I do everything because I am the Competent One, I will not complain at my employees who have been instructed to come to me for help that I simply don't have the time to do it, or to fix the problems they would create if they did it themselves.

I will let employees use their brains and come up with solutions that I may not see, or suggest new ways to do old thing that are more effective.

I will give deadlines with assigned tasks, instead of getting upset when they aren't finished when I need them.

Unless I'm planning to fire the person, I will not convince her other coworkers that the person is incompetent and encourage them to tell her so.

I will take time (or have someone else make time) to train new employees.

I will try my best to express appreciation for a job well done.

I will not assign a project I want done specifically without any instruction to alert the employee that I want something different than normal, then after 2 hours of her working on it say, "I was afraid of that; it's all wrong." In other words, I will not set my employees up to fail and look dumb.

Kelly said... [reply]

I had a boss who cried a lot. Thankfully I was never a witness to it, but all of my co-workers at one point or another had been stuck in her office with her working on a big project for HOURS while she railed against HER bosses and copiously wept.

Here are mine:

I will let my employees know when they are doing a good job and not approach them with a "Yes, that's nice, but what have you done for me TODAY?" type attitude.

I will tell any marginally creepy older men working for me that on no condition are they to ever touch or squeeze the shoulders of the very young temp worker who is just trying to make some money on her summer break.

Sherry said... [reply]

I used to work a t grocery store where several of the managers smoked, especially the manager who usually worked at night (which is when I usually worked because I was a teenager). Anyway, it would drive me crazy that I would call him on the intercom to override something, and he wouldn't answer because he was outside smoking. Frequently.

Saxon said... [reply]

I will occasionally talk to people who sit next to me when I have a question rather then emailing them and sit there waiting for a response.

Iggy Enigma said... [reply]

saxon, i think you might work at the same place i do!

also, i once started a new job and the girl who was supposed to be supervising me had never supervised anyone before. so the boss would walk through all the time and talk to her about me, like things to do with me etc., as though i was not SITTING RIGHT THERE. never do that.

Usually Happy said... [reply]

I think some of these are "possibly but not necessarily absolutely taken from managers" that I might possibly but not necessarily know and still work for :)

Scully said... [reply]

Here are a few gems from my experience:

If you employ your grown children, hold them to the 8-5 schedule to which you hold everyone else, OR allow all employees to co-ordinate schedules to fit their needs, as long as it does not disrupt business.

Do not call in your v. v. sick employee and berate her for working half days. Especially when said employee is working in an hourly position and might possibly need to work some, despite a raging head cold. It is especially ridiculous if said employee is forced to leave the meeting to retrieve her Kleenex box because her nose won't stop running.

Do not give your employee an extravagant invitation-in-a-box to your wedding and allow her to volunteer for the office wedding gift pool when you know you are going to lay her off in a week.

April said... [reply]

I had a boss who screamed (really, really loudly) at the majority of us employees about mistakes made by only 2-3 employees, and those people weren't even present at the meeting. Later, the boss calmly took those few employees aside and gently explained what they did wrong. Nice.

Azúcar said... [reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Azúcar said... [reply]

Interesting post, mostly because I've spent the majority of my working years in management. I don't think I've done any of those things.

As a former manager of people (where now all I do is happily manage products) may I say that you could have SUED some of those bosses? I've had some remarkable bosses that have been great examples to me.

All that being said...

I will never, when shelving books, ask my employees if the travel books on Spain belong in the Latin American section

I will never announce to people that I'm "not much of an email guy" when I work at an Internet company.

The Divine Miss A said... [reply]

(Some of these are particular to teaching, but the principles hopefully can be applied to other jobs. Also, none of these would--or could--apply to you Miss Nemesis. You were a great/amazing/pretty-darn-perfect boss.)

I will never be afraid to apologize or say that I made a mistake just because I don't want to lose face.

After having done an observation on an employee, if the person is actually doing a good job I will not add things like "don't write in colored chalk," just so that I have more to put on their record.

I will stay consistent on as many things as I can, and if I change my mind, I will say why. (I will not say that I LOVE your classroom arrangement at the beginning of the year and then later on tell you that it needs help, not giving any specific things to do with it.)

P.S. If this posts twice I'm sorry, I tried posting it earlier and it doesn't appear to have shown up.

Wodin said... [reply]

Ahem. I will not berate the office help because they are female and have less education.

I will not be a sexist jerk.

I will not yell at the secretaries for doing what I asked when they should have read my mind and known what I really meant.

I will not be sweet and nice one moment and then a raging tyrant the next.

I will not ask my employees to do work not in their job description.

Anonymous said... [reply]

I just came across this post. I hope you don't mind if I comment. Great suggestions by the way.

Here's another:

I will not require my employees to meet me at a bar or strip club to conduct their yearly evaluations! (My husband's boss actually did this and he quit over it).

Also, I will not say obscene, sexist comments about women (or men) EVER!

Miss Hass said... [reply]

I will not ask my employees to call ahead to my appointments with a made-up excuse for my tardiness.

I will not ask, "Do you feel comfortable handling the Fed Exes?" to an employee with a college degree.

I will not ask employees to clean my house or plan my personal dinner parties when that is clearly not in their job description.

Girassol said... [reply]

I will not allow my husband and teenage daughter to come trolling through the cubicles whenever they want to. I will also not fight loudly with them in my office with the door open.

I will lead by example and not demand from my employees what I will not deliver. (e.g., If we work on a set schedule and I harp about punctuality, I will be the first one through the door each day, not the last.)

I will treat my employees like professionals and allow them to have access to their work space when it is most convenient to them. (A former superintendent denied all the teachers ANY after-hours access to the building. If we had extra work to do, we stayed until it was done. Ridiculous.)

I will be understanding when the more important parts of life (i.e., family, health) take precedence over work. I will allow employees to bank their own paid sick leave days and transfer them to a coworker who is, say, fighting cancer, and will be grateful that I have such compassionate and selfless people on my staff.

I will trust the people I have hired to competently get the job done, even if they choose to do it in a way I wouldn't have approached the task myself.

Jenny said... [reply]

Wow. I think you should get more submissions and bind them and give them to bosses all over the country. That would be so nice of you I think.

Nemesis said... [reply]

People, these are amazing. I am going to copy all of them and put them in a file. I've been a manager myself, off and on, since I was 21 and I know I've made lots of mistakes and there are plenty of ways I can improve.

But seriously, reading these comments? I feel So. Much. Better. :-)

Squirrel Boy said... [reply]

I will recognize when my employees know more than I do in a particular area. And when they tell me there's a problem that needs to be corrected on a product, I won't insist that it's fine, then spend several thousand dollars on a rush order of stickers to cover up the problem, then blame the whole thing on an employee whom I fired for spurious reasons a couple weeks back, especially if this is not the first time this problem has come up. I also won't wage war against a department that I have to work with and take over responsibilities that I'm not qualified for (which lead to the aforementioned problem in the first place).

I could go on and on, but I'll call that good.

daltongirl said... [reply]

The second one was meant for me, wasn't it?

Okay. I can take a hint. You don't have to be my friend anymore if you don't want to.

And if Cicada and Sakhmet want to cry off, that's okay, too. I can get new friends.

Anonymous said... [reply]

I will never walk around the place of employment staring down employees while sporting the world's biggest scowling frowny face, hoping to intimidate the them into doing a better job. I will use the more successful technique of complimenting a job well done.

Ana said... [reply]

I will not leave my bank statements showing my account heavily overdrawn by the thousands lying about for employees to see. Ignorance is bliss. And also make for far less anxious moments when cashing pay cheques.

I will NEVER leave signed cheques in my cheque book for my employees to write out their own pay cheques.

I will not ask my employee to write a letter to the police department attempting to excuse myself from a ticket because of "an Asian's bad driving".

I will not insist that we not use computers because of the evils of the internet (just don't get the net! DUH) and thereby relegate my two admin staff to a small fiery deathtrap of an office with ONE small dying fan heater to heat themselves with.

I will remind my employees that when I say "I was SO full" or "could barely eat all the courses" at the restaurant that we're having our work Christmas party at - that I am a petite, small framed, Japanese woman and hence, getting me full would not take much.

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