Ongoing Humliliation By My Manager

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being insulted by the boss:

I work in a moderate sized chain restaurant and recently switched from serving tables to kitchen work. I have been in the kitchen for four weeks now and I feel I have been doing a pretty good job, but a couple of the managers have voiced questions about the speed at which my tasks get done. One of the managers has used what he believes is humor in order to “get me fast,” which generally consists of calling me slow and asking why things aren’t done in an impossibly short amount of time.

Earlier this week I was completing a task when this manager called me slow to another employee, but clearly within my earshot and I lashed out and cursed at the manager. A few minutes later he confronted me saying he was just joking and I couldn’t talk to a manager that way (which I understand, I handled the situation incorrectly.) Later on that night, in an informal conversation with both the manager in question and the general manager I explained that I knew what I did was wrong and how I understood that with a new job comes new critiquing but the way in which the manager was going about it was wrong, overtly insulting my job performance.

All the general manager said was “You need to have a thicker skin to work in the kitchen.” Tonight, however, during a store meeting, with all employees present, the general manager insulted my job performance in a joke in front of all of the employees of the restaurant. He even paused before he said it, knowing what he was about to do was wrong. To be honest, most of the stuff directed at me I can take-I even laugh it off most of the time. But when other employees are brought into the mix I feel almost threatened because the perpetrators are management. What should I do about this?

Signed, Fed Up

Dear Fed Up:

When I know someone in an occupation the same as or similar to the person who sent us a question, I solicit his/her input. Therefore, I forwarded your question to Craig Tengler, an owner/executive of a cluster of restaurants. Craig meets with managers from time to time and sends his advice daily to employees. He replied immediately. Here is his response. In sum, he advises that you apologize, help your manager understand how he might respectfully help you perform your job effectively, and if he continues to belittle you, you should move on. In short learn from this experience.

Craig advises: · Focus on the problem, issue or concern…not the person.

· Be positive, specific and provide alternatives. As we acquire stores (restaurants) one of the very first things I do is introduce this process of feedback to the restaurant managers. Most managers are not very well trained and have picked-up the training skills of the person that trained them…I would guess that the manager does not actually know how to provide constructive, meaningful feedback. Public humiliation is….stupid or ignorant, and always mean spirited. Period. I would provide the employee with similar information….give feedback to the manager. Let the manager know that it would be better if they focus on the problem and be positive and provide specific alternatives. It is positive that the employee apologized to the manager, but the after this fact “meeting incident” is a clear sign that nothing about this relationship is likely to change.

I would tell the employee that life is short, learn and move on.. .Giving each other feedback on “how we are doing” is the key to our success as a person, a team member.

*Feedback is Always: Supportive and Encouraging

*Feedback is Never: Mean Spirited

*Feedback focuses on the problem issue or concern not the person.

*Feedback is given and received with mutual respect and dignity. . Guiding Principles Giving Feedback:

Be Positive. Be Specific. Provide Alternatives. Ask questions for clarity and understanding.

Receiving Feedback:

Listen without interruption.

Ask questions for clarification.

Feedback is a learning moment and a skill.

Summarize for clarity and understanding.

Please absorb his advice and see your present job as one step on a career path that is a process of continuous learning. Feel free to share with us what you do over the next few weeks. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

Craig Tengler & Bill Gorden