What is the problem with first line managers?
Every morning Emily and I watch Morning Joe. Jack Welsh is on this show some mornings. Jack on the show one morning during a discussion about union and company relationships, made a telling comment. He said, “When we had union problems at a plant we most times found that the manager was a horse’s ass. We got rid of the manager and our problems went away.” This is Jack from the gut.
This is Jack’s thinking about most first line managers, that is; if a problem gets my attention something is wrong with the front line manager. Get rid of the manager and the problem goes away. Wrong Jack, the problem just goes underground. I agree that if a manager is treating employees unfairly they should go. But you promoted the manager or hired the manager; you could have a problem since you picked the manager. Jack, you might have a manager trying to increase the efficiency of the plant. This is what I think you find most times. But Jack seems to have the attitude that the manager is a horse’s ass going into the investigation. Barnacle asked, Jack you moved a factory in western Pennsylvania overseas. why.” Jack completely ignored this question twice. Maybe the horse’s ass is General Electric’s past CEO.
I got an employee from through the union bid process to work routes at my office. Mr. M came from a different environment. He did not understand the need to finish our routes daily. I coached him on his job performance, but it did not improve. I went over the data from previous employees doing the same job. I thought he could see that his performance was sub par. This did not work. One week-end I went back over the previous month to map out his time daily. I saw that he was stopping a couple of hours daily, for some reason. I went in on Monday, went over this data with him. This I thought would solve the problem; he could plainly see I could capture his daily routine. Not so, on Tuesday he took two hours again. Wednesday morning, I confronted him, he was officially warned. If this did not stop I intended to take further disciplinary actions. I thought this will surely take care of the issue.
As I walked in to the office from lunch, Ms. B said, “Mr. M is with Ms. T at a restaurant.” I said, “ok.” I thought MS. T will come to see me to get the details of what was going on. I knew she could see the employee had performance issues. I went into my office to get the information ready to show her. She was our new District Manager; she came from the corporate headquarters. She managed the corporate maintenance department. I knew she would defer to my experience, having been here for several years. I was looking forward to bringing her up to speed on this issue. Man was I wrong. She stormed into my office and informed me I was harassing the employee. She told me to stop the process immediately. I wanted to show her the information I gathered but she refused to allow me to. I told her I would follow her instructions.
Trouble is the employees in my office knew that Mr. M was not performing his job duties. The pressure on him finally got bad, they were not his co-dependents. He bid on a job in another office. When Mr. M was at that office a month or so, the business office manager phoned me, wanting to know why I did nothing about his poor performance. I told him the story, he seemed amazed. He and I never mentioned this problem to Ms. T. I am sure she thought she had solved her problem. She told the horse’s ass manager to stop harassing Mr. M; or, she will replace him. The problem employee was still on the payroll, the customers are paying his salary.
I am sure that other GE first line managers got Mr. Welsh’s message. Wonder what happened when the cost got out of line. I think Barnacle knows; all the employees lost their jobs. Mr. Welsh closed the plant and moved the jobs offshore. Is Jack the biggest horse’s ass?