This afternoon I witnessed an interaction between a manager and his subordinate. It reminded me how we treat each other in the workplace. As I was standing in line at the post office, waiting for my turn to be served, the manager on duty was at one of the stations providing services to a customer. The manager had a bit of an attitude, he was surly and short when answering.
One subordinate appeared from the backroom than grabbed a couple of packages from a bin. While he was doing that, the manager shouted at him, “you need to open station 3″. He wanted to go on a lunch break. The subordinate acknowledged the manager walk back towards the backroom. In the meantime, a second subordinate walked in and opened station 1.
I though at that point the manager would leave the front desk and go on his break. Well not really, while the first subordinate reappeared with his hand full ready to open station 3. The manager followed him to the station, the conversation that took place wasn’t the best I have ever heard. The manager in a loud rude voice started telling him what to do. Interfering with the subordinate to set up his work station including login in to the computer. The disruption was unsettling.
The manager continues to bully him by telling him that last Saturday his teller was short by $11.00. The subordinate calmly told him “no my teller was correct, I do not have any discrepancy”. The manager repeated three times “yes, his teller was wrong he needed to get the money back”. In the same time the manager rudely cut himself between the subordinate and his register.
This exchange lasted at least 5 minutes. When the subordinate finally opened his station, I was still in the line waiting. I went to his counter. The manager proceeded to walk out. But at the last minute decided to comeback and interfere one more time with the subordinate. This time it was on the parcel I was shipping.
The manager, like a little general, started to interrupt the subordinate’s process to check the paper work. Telling him again what to do, the subordinate still acting politely told him he wasn’t there quit yet. He was checking to make sure all the fields on the form were completed. At that point he thanked him again telling him he knew better.
I was at that point horrified by how he was being treated. The manager finally left for his lunch, the atmosphere changed from tense to positive. As he was typing the address on the computer I noticed a typo. Gently I pointed out he made a mistake, I apologized to him stating that I do not have the best handwriting. It also must be difficult to read everyone’s handwriting.
His answered stunned me “It is my fault I do not do a good job, ask my manager he will told you that”. I answered him back letting him know as a matter of fact he was doing a good job. He repeated the same sentence but added “we can agree to disagree “I responded to him “yes, we can agree to disagree”.
What really hit me at that point wasn’t what the manager did to him. But he believed he was doing a bad job, when in fact he did an excellent job to process the paperwork for my parcel. If he wouldn’t have been rudely interrupted by that manager, I wouldn’t have spent over 10 to 15 minutes at the counter with him. More customers would have been serviced.
As I walked out of the post office it dawned on me, how do we treat each other at work? How do you treat subordinates? I felt by watching that manager, he disliked that employee with a passion. How do you treat someone you have no affinity for? Do you use them as your doormat? Do you speak to them in such a negative way to the point they are not motivated to work?
Also, they are believing deep in their core they are terrible at their job. How much of an impact do you think you are having? Is it a good service for everyone? How far would you go to show an employee that you dislike them? Do you know why you dislike this person? Is it because they are different than you?
You could ask why didn’t you step in? I was in a place of an observer, watching how the manager was toward the subordinate, it would have done more harms than good. I am just a customer, the subordinate works at this location. The wrath would have been worst for him if I had spoken based on the manager’s behavior. I wouldn’t have seen how much impact the manager’s behavior had on the subordinate, after I engaged with him. There is a silver line in this whole process I contacted the post office afterward reporting what I saw.
We do not have to like each other to work together but kindness goes a long way. One of the basic rules to remember “what goes around comes around” and another moral rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Treating others with respect works well