My Employees Accidentally Told Me the Truth

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After talking with them, I changed our company meetings

When I first became a manager, I totally brought into the manager look. Every day I dressed in a well pressed tailored suit, high heels, full makeup and jewelry. It took half an hour to do my hair each morning.

When I say full makeup, I mean ‘The Full Monty’, moisturizer, concealer, foundation, highlights, blush, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow enhancements, and false lashes.

I never went out of my house even on the weekends, without being pressed, dressed and fully made up, except once.

A friend was visiting my home when she became sick. She had heart issues. The incident happened around six a.m. in the morning.

We rushed out of the house. I had my pajama bottoms stuffed into my jeans and my husband’s tee shirt thrown on top of my pajama top. I did not stop to put on underwear. No makeup. I barely had time to wash the slobber off my face. I grabbed a headscarf from the top drawer of my dresser and slapped it on my head to cover my uncombed hair.

Luckily, after being examined by the doctor, my friend was released but given a prescription to fill.

We pulled up to the drugstore. I jumped out and ran in. I turned in the prescription to the pharmacist and took a seat to wait.

Two employees who worked for my supply chain manager were already waiting. They were sitting opposite me. I nodded at them and sat down. They stared at me.

I remembered exactly how I dressed. My crazy appearance would be all over the plant tomorrow. Oh, well. It couldn’t be helped.

One employee walked over.

“Are you related to TC?”, she asked me.

Thinking about how I looked, I said, “Yes.”

“You must be her sister.” I thought about my current appearance and slowly nodded my up and down head.

They introduced themselves as working with TC. I asked what they did. They told me. We discussed the weather and wondered aloud how long it would take to get our prescriptions filled. The pharmacist appeared to be in no hurry.

One of them commented, “Your sister is smart, but we don’t know what she is trying to do.”

“Oh,” I said. “TC told me she had weekly information meetings.”

“Not with us,” they said. “She meets with our bosses. Our bosses don’t tell us what she said.”

“Why don’t you ask her, “I said?

One of the ladies giggled. “We can’t do that. She is the big boss.”

They clammed up recognizing perhaps they may had said too much to TC’s sister. The rest of the conversation was about how great TC was. She set out free coffee for everyone where you could have a cup whenever you wanted. Cream and sugar, too. As many cups as you wanted all day long. Some people were getting coffee as they left the plant for the day and it was fine to do so.

Someone called their prescriptions. They left and said “Goodbye” as they picked up their prescriptions at the counter.

I giggled as they left. Whew. That was close.

Later, I thought about our conversation.

I had not understood that some members of my team were information hoarders. I assumed that whatever I told my direct reports, they told their direct reports and so on and so on like a Ponzi scheme. This roadblock on my employee communications highway needed to be addressed.

I changed the process. Besides my weekly meeting with my direct reports, I added a once a month “all hands” meeting where my team and I met with everyone in my organization and took questions at the end of the meeting.

Also, after my all hands meeting, my direct reports were to have a scheduled twice a month meeting with their direct reports.

In this way, at a minimum, our workers would learn what we were trying to accomplish in the plant. Anyone could also ask questions in their team meeting they may not have wanted to ask at the large All Hands Meeting.

The first couple monthly meetings were quiet affairs with almost no questions but once it was clear I would answer the questions asked at the meetings; our meetings became true information shares.

On the all hand meeting days, I brought in donuts. The donuts made the meetings popular. People arrived early, that’s how you get your choice of the best donuts.

The two women who met me at the drug store had stopped by my office soon after the drug store meeting to tell me know that they met my sister. They told me we looked alike. I thanked them for stopping by.

They said she was nice. I liked that.

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