Thursday, September 23, 2010

Had Him On The Ropes

Things went fine with my supervisor today. She was a little cold, but she wasn't retaliating in any way. Interestingly, she went into a rage about it moments after she and I clashed (yesterday), but she did it behind a closed door and only one person saw it.

But the real story here happened at our weekly sales and focus meeting. The general manager was very receptive and open today, and warmly commended a new employee for addressing some concerns with the group. One issue was customer complaints and a rumor that we are closing down. The GM reassured us that our corporate office is trimming the fat tightly now, so that when the banks resume loaning money, we will still be in operation. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The GM was surprised that his words seemed unexpected. I spoke up, "I have a suggestion, you should say things like that at our employee meetings. I've attended these meetings for a year now and I have never heard anything so reassuring. I would guess that at least half of our employees believe that we will close our doors. That may be where our customers are getting their information. And perception can kill the business faster than a down economy."

He admitted that he neglects to share information, assuming that most people don't care. My reply was, "My husband and I both work here. All of our eggs are in this basket. We often wonder whether there is a future here for us. If no threat to our job exists, then we'd like to know that. We would sleep better at night."

He assured everyone that if they have any doubts or questions, his door is always open. Then he thanked me for my question. I interrupted, "I didn't ask a question. It was a suggestion. You should say more things like that. You'll get more work out of people who feel like they have job security."

"OK, it is a good suggestion. I'm going to take it to heart. But if you ever feel that your job is in jeopardy, you can come to me. Just ask--"

I came back with, "--And if corporate is closing us down, you'll tell us." I said it as if I fully believed him--no hint of sarcasm--but everyone knows that such things are always kept strictly secret, so they all giggled low.

He smiled big and said very kindly, "You know, this may be hard to believe, but I'm actually the type of person that if corporate said we're closing don't tell, I'd be the one to leak the information."

I said, "Good. I'm going to hold you to that."

Well, the whole exchange was only a minute or two, and it was very light in mood and tone. I thought it the best meeting I'd attended and went away relieved and light-hearted.

I met my husband on the other side of the campus, for his shift was just beginning as mine ended. He questioned me about my participation in the meeting. I wondered what he'd heard, since he was not present for the meeting himself. His boss was tickled that a mousy little quiet woman would have the nerve to question the GM that way, and to keep pressing him the way I did. Of course, he told it much bigger than it really was, but he found it comical enough. "Your wife had the big man on the ropes! He couldn't argue with her 'cause she was right. I was so proud that she spoke up for herself. She said just what I was thinking, but no one has the nerve to stand up to him."

It was so bizarre to have this said of me. First of all, I'm not a quiet or timid person. If it weren't for my small stature, there wouldn't be anything little about me. My husband tells me that if not for my faith that God will right every wrong, I'd be a terrorist or a cut-throat lawyer or a crazed activist of some sort. I'm the person who fights the urge to follow a careless motorist home and confiscate their drivers license or make a citizen's arrest. I'm not the wall-flower that so many people take me for.

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