This Article is About
new boots
ears and eyes
feed lot
full swing
manure
My Bad To Best Manager
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I was fresh out of college, and had landed a great job, Operations Manager, at a large beef feed lot in central Washington State. I was to supervise over 30 employees and co-ordinate the remodel project. Talk about excitement mixed with trepidation.

The general manager and my direct supervisor, Werner, was a big fellow. Mind you I was not a scrawny, kick sand in my face fellow myself. I stood six feet in my stocking feet and had the shoulders to match my football years. Still, I had to look up at Werner and let me tell you he knew how to use his size to intimidate.

Two month later I was starting to feel like I was filling out my new boots. I had a good camaraderie with the guys under my leadership, the remodel was in full swing, and the feed lot was starting to look good.

I was doing my rounds when I noticed my supervisor, Werner, parked at one of the areas I had a man working. As I got closer I saw Werner motion my man, Manuel, out of the Feedlots, big, blue, manure mover (try saying that one three times fast). Curious to see what was going on I pulled in and rolled down my window.

What greeted my ears and eyes?

My Supervisor was towering over my worker, arms gesturing, mouth pouring forth expletives that questioned Manuel's parentage and well as his IQ. My guess would be that if Manuel had, had a better handle on the English language he would have moved away instead he hunch down and tremble. Of course the fact there was an electrified fence between them probably helped him with his courage.

I was ready to jump from my vehicle and intervene but taking a page from my parents, arguing in front of the children was just not allowed. Therefore arguing in front of the workers would or could undermine my effectiveness with them. So, I figured I should bide my time to discuss with Werner the happens of the morning and I would check-in with Manuel later.

Opportunity being ever so helpful that time came quickly. I followed Werner down the road, got past the rise, and flashed my lights at him. Werner stopped, stayed in his vehicle (thankfully) and I approached.

My intentions had me trembling but I felt it should be said. So I did. No prelim or introduction into what I had to say. I just spouted. "If you ever do anything like that again to one of my guys I am out of here. You are my supervisor and I am theirs. If you have a problem with them you come to me about it. Do get what I am saying?"

He came back at me with his reasons, peppered with expletives, why he felt he must talk to my men as he did that morning. I let him finish and I peppered back with a reiteration why he should not speak to my men in such a manner. "No worker should ever be put in the position to take such a verbal beating like you just laid on Manuel. Like I said and take this to heart. Tell me the issues and I will handle my men. Otherwise fire me now." Silence ensued for a moment, then he floored the pedal, spewing gravel and dirt from his tires.

I took the time to check in with Manuel and see where he was in the events of the morning. He said to me that perhaps it would be better if he found a different job. I asked him to stay and let him know that as his supervisor I was happy with his work.

That same day when I returned to my office I sat down and I heard Werner talking to corporate. This is how I learned that a bigwig from corporate would be visiting at the end of the week. The next several days had my Supervisor and myself tip toeing around each.

I had met Paul, the owner of the company, before at a corporate outing so when he walked into my office and stuck out his hand, I was only marginally surprised to see him there.

Greetings exchanged, seats taken, Paul says to me, "I would like for you to share with me what is going on with you and your supervisor Werner."

Taken a little aback I said that he and I had a confrontation on management style the week before. Paul asked for details. Details shared he sat back and mused, "That is interesting."

"What is interesting?", I asked. Evidently the story Werner had shared was no where near the picture I had painted. I offered to go out and introduce to him the worker the events had centered around.

Paul said "Let's go. While we are out you can show me the progress on the project."

So, out we went to find Manuel doing the same job Werner had yelled at him for doing. I offered introductions and asked Manuel to share the events. He looked at me and away like I had grown another eye in the middle of my forehead. "It's okay" I said, "just tell him what happened as best you can."

In broken english he explained. Paul thanked him for his time. I reassured him he was doing a good job. then off Paul and I went to finish the tour. Tour finished on my part, Paul and I parted.

That afternoon when I returned to my office, I found, Werner's wife there waiting for him. She was there to pick him up as he was no longer employed there.

As you might have guessed, I was offered his job. I declined for I was just out of college and I knew I had more to learn before I took on such a task.

Turned out great though, for I had one of the best bosses about two weeks later, and boy did I learn a lot from him.


Street Talk

Great article, having managed teams as big as 200 employees, I found talking and discussion got so much more done than shouting and swearing. A good manager knows his staff and how to get the best out of them.. Love the article.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I agree! I am not the yelling type. You sound like a great manager! Where were you when I needed a better manager? LOL Thanks for the read. and the comment.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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