b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: Are Your Employees Happy?

11/13/2006

 

Are Your Employees Happy?

I happened to read this re-posted article from The Chief Happiness Officer called A Challenge to All Managers. It’s a call to all managers out there to gauge what their subordinates really think. Are they really happy? If you had to guess, would you say that they are or not?

One comment stated that, as their manager, you’d know what they were thinking. Of course, that’s if you’re any bit involved with them, then sure.

As a matter of fact, I’d find it hard to be a manager and NOT know what was really going on with my employees. I worked in corporate hell for 12 years… and I managed people probably for about 8 of them. Perhaps it was the nature of my job, perhaps it was just my nature… but I was as involved with the people on my team as I could be. I mean, if they were working on projects that I had to ultimately answer for, you can be damn sure I was involved with my people.

Don’t, however, get that confused with micro-management. You don’t have to be all up in your people’s faces about work to be involved with them and know what’s going on in their worlds - gauge the barometer readings, so to speak. I think I can honestly say that I’ve known when people were happy, and when they were unhappy.

So let’s take a look at the unhappy crew. What happened there? Was it my fault or someone else’s?

Well, it was both actually.

I’m cutting a lot out of this story, but let’s just say that I was “restructured” against my wishes into an undesirable department with a staff that hated their jobs. Off to a great start, huh?

So for starters I was dealing with my own humiliation (again, LONG story) and resistance to this terrible turn in my career. I was well acquainted with my new staff and them with me. What kinds of odds did we have, anyway?

My management was doing everything in their power to push me out… then I get to take the reigns for a group of individuals that had already been beat down with the same awful management. From the beginning, I knew my people hated everything about where they were and were doing everything possible to get out – which I not only knew about, but did everything I could to coach them on their resumes and interviews to help usher them out.

It’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t have a great ending. It was down to two subordinates and both were seen as underperforming. At this stage of the game, nothing would have motivated them to do more than they were. Let me tell you – they didn’t WANT to be doing a bad job, but because their spirits were already broken, there wasn’t much I could do to coach them (and going to bat for them was difficult at best and then it was just painful as I'd get beaten)… and I was a lousy coach because I didn’t want to be there any more than they did.

Ultimately, I had to fire one of them and the other found a job elsewhere. What an experience.

I left a few short months after that point and here I am. I have my own company and my first book coming out which talks all about those "fun" times in corporate hell. But to get back to the management challenge to gauge where your employees are… yeah, I think it’s pretty easy to tell. If you’re even a half-way decent manager, you’ll know EXACTLY how they’re doing and what they think of you.

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