Are You Trying to Make Your Employees' Lives Miserable?

Last Updated Aug 18, 2010 1:35 PM EDT

I'm not a nurse. Never have been one and never will be one because I dislike it when children that I've actually given birth to puke on me, and nurses sometime have complete strangers puke on them. (Although as a sideline, once my pregnant grandmother was standing on a bus and feeling awfully queasy. She leaned over to ask a man for his seat and puked on his lap. I bet he never made a pregnant woman stand again, but I digress.)

Since I'm not a nurse, I wouldn't presume to know what the best uniform for nurses is. You would think that former floor nurses would know what current floor nurses would want to wear, but apparently you'd be wrong. RehabNurse writes about people making decisions they don't have to deal with:
The best suggestion was to go back to "nursing whites because they're so much more professional". Yuck! I work with poop and other bodily fluids a lot on some shifts (and I may get wet in a shower--or may sweat due to the heat and humidity on our unit) and I really don't want to see it if it does end up on my scrubs.

And who might have thought this was a great idea? It was the "Nursing Standards" committee, which consists of nurses who no longer work the floor anymore. Our representative did work the floor, until he/she got the office and is rarely seen anywhere near the unit, unless there are donuts or other free food.
This is just one of the mistakes that managers make. Sometimes, I wonder if they are purposely trying to make their employees lives miserable. Here are a few things not to do.
  • Manage by fiat. Yes, we pay you the big bucks to make the hard decisions. But, waltzing into a department and declaring the new, unpleasant policy without explanation or input makes everyone unhappy.
  • Ignore your bad employees. Dealing with problem employees is hard. It can be tedious and frustrating. But, ignoring the problems makes your good employees unhappy. You don't want to do that.
  • Make blanket changes rather than deal with the problem. This is a variation of ignoring the problem employee. Rather than taking Joe aside and saying, "I need you to be here, on time, every day and if you're not, I'm going to have to write you up," managers implement a new program of "docking points" (or some similarly silly thing) for all employees who don't clock in by 8:02. Now, never mind that Joe is the only person who isn't in consistently on time, and it's not mission critical that everyone be there at precisely 8:02, everyone gets treated like a 2nd grader because the boss won't deal with the problem.
  • Make employees suffer in bad times, but not profit in good times. We know that times are tough--if not now, in the past and sometime in the future. As a result, bonuses or hours or perks are cut. This is fine. Employees are generally willing to do some suffering for the good of the company. But, when things pick up and you're still using the austerity program you set up last year, your employees will resent you.
  • Hold your good employees back. We know you want to look good and you need the help of your good employees. But, if you prevent them from taking growth opportunities within the department or the company, they'll take them elsewhere, and then where will you be? Not happy, that's for sure.
  • Think only of the customers and not the employees. Customers generally come first. But, not all customers are worth keeping and some will drive off your best employees. Before you accept that unreasonable demand that will require your team to work until midnight for 3 weeks in a row with no rewards, think about how many good employees you are pushing out the door.
This is hardly an exhaustive list of things that will make your employees miserable. But before you make a big change ask yourself if your employees will appreciate this or hate it.
Photo by gbaku, Flickr cc 2.0

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