The toughest job is managing people

by Bryan Salvage
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. What is the hardest job for those who manage various operations in a meat or poultry plant? Getting orders done correctly and on time? Hiring new employees? Expanding an operation within a finite amount of space? Ensuring all products produced are safe and wholesome? Ensuring effective clean-up and sanitation? All of these things are very important, but speaking from both personal experience and from input I’ve received over the years, I am convinced that effectively and fairly managing your employees is the toughest job of all.

As a manager, you must ensure that everyone works together like well-oiled parts of an engine to reach goals set by upper management. Everyone must pull and push together. Everyone must work together as a team.

It’s not easy being a good manager. It’s human nature to want everyone who works for you to like you….but it is more important that they respect you than like you. Those recently promoted to a management position from the ranks oftentimes have a harder time being a good manager than a newly hired manager from outside the company because it’s hard for them to consider themselves as no longer being one of the guys. And it’s not uncommon for some workers to try and take advantage of a friend who was recently promoted to be their manager.

New managers must make it clear to those below him or her that to remain a part of that team, these workers must pull their own weight and consistently meet expectations. I’ve heard some horror stories over the years about a person in a group who never would go the extra mile and who would complain whenever asked to put in a little extra effort. Those types of folks also tend to waste a lot of time and constantly keep an eye on their watch. They generally seldom ever have anything to contribute at group meetings.

New managers need to be clear to these people that things must change for the better and by a certain date. Put it in writing. And if that person doesn’t improve, let them go and replace them with someone who has a good attitude, a willingness to work and exhibits team spirit.

A problem employee is like a toothache. If you let things continue as they are, the toothache will keep bothering you and will even get worse. The only way to fix this situation is to extract the bad tooth. Employees not making the grade cause grief for good employees who are forced to work harder to make up for their shortcomings. Resentment eventually sets in amongst those expected to always pick up the slack.

New managers with little or no experience in managing people usually have a difficult time in dealing with two employees who aren’t working well together. New managers are quick to side with the employee who complains about the other worker first. Do yourself a favor and get both sides of a story before making any decisions on how to resolve any employee issues.

Always listen to ideas your employees have on how to solve problems or to make certain jobs easier or safer. Workers oftentimes have good ideas that can benefit your business. Nothing boosts morale of your employees more than considering or using ideas they present to management.

As a manager, it’s your job to do whatever is necessary to get the job done correctly and on time. You don’t have the option of giving out orders and then washing your hands of everything. You must stay on top of what’s happening at all times. When upper management promoted you to become a new manager, they had expectations you would succeed. If you don’t meet their expectations, you can bet they will replace you with someone who will.

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