Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fountain Head

Just about every day at work, I take a walk around a nearby park. It helps me so much to have a 15 - 20 min break, both mentally and physically (stretch those legs, relax those eyes, etc.).

Over the last few weeks I've been watching a crew of workers repair a broken fountain in the park. There are four guys and they've been at this project for several weeks.

Whenever I walk by, three of the guys are clustered together talking and pointing at stuff, and one guy is in the dried up fountain doing the work: scraping, digging, lifting. I admit that I have no idea what they're doing (looks like the pump was broken), but I do know that the one guy in the fountain doing all the work probably isn't doing his best job.

I'm not saying he isn't a good worker. In fact, I'm sure he is. And I bet he was motivated and worked hard the first few days or weeks on the project.

But the manager/leader/foreman/crew chief will beat that kind of work ethic right out of him.

Late last week as I walked by the foreman called the lone worker over and started pointing a pile of miscellaneous pump parts.

"What is this?" he demanded.

The worker started to reply, only to be cut off by a rough shout from the foreman.

"I said to get three blahblahblahs. What's this?"

Again the worker tried to reply, only to be shouted down again.

"What is this? What is this?"

And then I was past the fountain and the yelling faded into the background.

The other two guys, the ones that usually stand next to the foreman and help point at stuff were snickering.

I'm not a perfect manager, and it's always easier to be on the outside and point out possible errors. But I never treat people like that. What good could possibly come from publicly humiliating someone like that? At best, the worker will feel terrible about the mistake (we did not get to hear his response to his manager) and go back to work a timid, unmotivated cog in the fountain repair wheel.

At worse, the worker will quit or do an intentionally poor job.

I'm amazed when I come across people in leadership roles who don't include teaching and mentoring in their definition of leader.

No comments:

Post a Comment