In a previous blog, I talked about the effects of having a “glory hound” manager/supervisor (What’s eating Away at Morale). Another issue that can eat away at your employee’s morale is having a “yes man” for a manager/supervisor. Having a “yes man” as a manager/supervisor can be just as detrimental to your employee’s morale.
In the company that I am currently working at, I was a supervisor before becoming a union steward. Since I had previous experience as a manger, especially from the outside, they were excited to have me join the ranks of management. I quickly learned that this was not the place for me to manage (I will explore this topic in a future blog.). One of the areas that I managed was dock area. The employees were responsible for loading and unloading trucks. The employees created their own little rest areas outside one of the stalls for them to sit down between trucks. One day, my boss comes to me and tells me to take that area down. She does not want them sitting in between trucks. My response was “no, that is not a good idea.” This cat and mouse game went on for about 5 days. Finally, my boss stated, “Why can’t you just say yes and do what I told you to do?” I responded with “first of all, I’m not a yes man. Secondly, I think it’s a bad idea. Why have you not once asked me why I think it’s a bad idea?” She replied with “We just want people to do what they are told.” I was shocked, but not surprised. She finally relented and let me explain why it was a bad idea. I explained to her that my team loads and unloads trucks quickly so that they can sit down for a few minutes. If we remove that small goal for them, they will not load and unload quickly, but rather take their time. The more she thought about it, the more she agreed with me and finally came to the conclusion that the small resting area can stay. In no way am I condoning insubordination. However, sometimes there are small battles that you need to fight to gain the respect of your team.
Had I been a “yes man” I would have just done what my boss told me. However, the results would have been disastrous for my team. I would have lost a tremendous amount of respect from my team. Instead, by making a small stand, my team knew I had their back. This in turn gave me a team that was willing to go the extra mile when needed.