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People Matter: Be a Good Boss

03/06/2014

My fiancé is a sweetie, and he works for this mother of his friend who started a flower shop. This woman is a nice woman, but she used to be a middle manager in a huge corporation so she doesn’t know the first thing about running a business herself. She also started three businesses at the same time, one of which was the flower shop for which my fiancé drives a delivery van. All three are run out of her house, including the convalescent home.

There are many things I see wrong with this situation, one of which is the legal issues of having an old folks home in where she lives, but the thing that drives me absolutely insane is how she treats my Sweetie. Andy, my fiancé, is a good guy and takes a lot of grief, but there is no need for his boss to yell at him. Ever. Even when he messes up. During the first year he worked for her she dressed him down a lot for being inefficient when out on deliveries. It was so bad that he kept a “Driver’s Log” detailing his minute-by-minute activities. Then she realized that the drive times she was calculating did not take into account actually delivering the flowers, and then she eased up.

This woman is also late all the time. She’ll tell Andy to get there at 10am, but she will not be ready for him to load up his van until 1pm. She is so disorganized, she usually misses flower deliver deadlines. Also, Andy was the first driver she hired. I understand that she has a low level of capital, but she promoted the newest driver into a supervisory position over Andy.

Yes, a large part of my rage is directed at this woman because she continually disrespects the man I love. But, more to the point, she is running her business into the ground. The largest expense a business will ever have (unless it manufactures heavy machinery, like airplanes) is its employees. Employees are the make-it or break-it of any company. They are the greatest asset and the greatest liability. They are people who bring their experiences, education, and personalities to work every day. When the business owner creates a corporate culture, it is the employees who keep it going. When the owner brings a bad attitude, does not listen to what her employees tell her, and do not promote their most valuable employees, they are basically telling their employees that they are not worth the minimum wage she is paying them. Andy should leave. If he weren’t so nice, he probably would have.

The companies I have loved working for listen to their employees. I have had bosses stop what they were doing, turn to me, and listen to what I told them. I have had bosses who knew what was going on in my life. I have had bosses who were willing to work with me to help me deal with my own personal problems, and I have had those that, although they sympathized were not willing to change my schedule due to constraints. But either way I felt valued. I felt particularly valued when I was working at the coffee shop and after 3 1/2 years I was finally promoted to supervisor. Even without that they had my best effort, my excellent work ethic, and my loyalty for four years – until the location sold. Most employees will not stay in a place where they do not feel valued, and high employee turnaround is expensive.

So please, if you have good employees, please, please, please let them know it. Listen to them. Promote them when you can. Do not yell at them. There are ways to scold and fix unwanted behaviors without tearing them down. This person is the best investment you will ever make, so please treat them like it!

The worst part – to me – is that Andy wants to keep working for this woman because it is a job. I understand that, but I think he needs to quit and find something better. What advice do you have for us??? We’re a little stuck on what to do, and would really appreciate the help!

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