Yesterday I was sitting in a Second Cup coffee shop and I overheard the conversation of a manager with her employees.
Setting the scene — she was on an apparent break, sitting casually at a table sipping a coffee. Lounging like she was on vacation, she barked over to one of the employees and said:
“Now listen to me carefully, I only want to say this once….”
“Blah, blah, blah — (insert Charlie Brown adult-speak) — blah blah…”
“If you don’t do what I say, we’re going to have a problem.”
She then instructed the employee to call over a second staff member, and she repeated the exact same diatribe. This happened a total of 4 times.
Can you imagine what was going through the employees’ heads as they nodded to her blankly? Exactly.
If you can’t do better than that – and say silly, pointless, demeaning and demoralizing things like, “listen to me closely” and “we’re going to have a problem” – you shouldn’t be managing people. Sheep, maybe. But not people.
One of her biggest mistakes was not explaining to the employees why her instructions mattered. She was asking them to do something fairly menial. It was clearly important, otherwise she wouldn’t have used the language she used. But why was it important? I have no clue…I’m guessing the employees don’t get it either…
Is there any chance they’re going to listen to her?