The Setting-me-Up Boss

Topic: Gutting your employee
Industry: Warehousing, Distribution and Logistics
Location: mid-Atlantic states

If this is a planned new hire orientation & probation process I would be shocked. Picture this…a large warehouse full of products which you might find in convenience stores. Every hour a wave of trucks pulls up to the docks to be loaded with kits of a store-full of products. “S” was hired to supervise a crew of temporary workers and and get out each wave. This meant knowing the warehousing system, learning the timekeeping system, learning how to manage worker performance, working across shifts, maintaining inventory accuracy and improving overall logistics effectiveness. “S’s” boss was accountable for training and showing the ropes. Other than pointing out where to sit, the boss was too busy to do orientation. “S” asks a peer for help and then gets chewed-out by the boss for not asking her for help. Next time he asked for help he got the “too busy.” “S” is then told he’s not showing enough initiative in learning the company. Not sure what this means, he hunts down anything he can find on the company to learn more. He then is told he isn’t demanding enough from his people. As he does, the people go to “S’s” boss and complain. “S” get called in for causing trouble. This is all within the first four weeks. “S” is told he needs more vision. “S” is now working 14 hour days + weekends + coming in on off-shifts to meet the other crews and work-out agreements on keeping the place clean. “S” is then brought in for a performance chat with HR and the manager and given a written warning for failure to perform. They agree “S’s” boss should be helping him learn the job and encouraged him to ask her for help. He did, she agreed, and said maybe later. Before the 90 days probation are up, “S” is called in and fired for not “fitting” with the organization.

“S” went into this job wanting to be a good worker. I know him. He is competent. What we learn is that if you want to demoralize a person, gut them and make them lose confidence in themselves do the following:
1. Hold the person accountable for performance objectives which you unveil to them only as they miss them.
2. Define “gray” performance targets so that they are never clear on expectations.
3. Throw the worker into an overmatched situation and then bust them when they miss schedules.
4. Expect instant knowledge of business unique systems such as timekeeping and materials management.
5. Tell your worker that it is your job to train them, don’t be available to train them, demand performance as if they were trained and then give them a chewing when they seek help from someone else.
6. Tell your worker they aren’t trying hard enough…not putting in enough effort.
7. Only point out the mistakes, never what is done right.
8. Tell them they are not friendly enough and then chide them for talking with others.
9. Don’t recognize the long hours, weekends and multiple shift work, only point-out when they leave before you.
10. Have a third party, such as H.R. give a performance review, pointing out deficient behaviors and recommending to the employee corrective actions dependant on the employee’s boss who is the problem to begin with.
11. Let the employee know that if things don’t turn around, they will be let-go. This way the employee can feel hopeless because they see no way to win.
12. Fire the employee for failing to perform.

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