Tough Love Supervision

Paul’s Story

This story from a champion manager shows the humanity and impact of his style of supervision. It illustrates the five C’s of champion supervision: Communication, Consequence, Contrasting, Coaching and Creating the future.

The announcement: a significant new contract!

Paul, general manager of a Canadian manufacturing plant, asked the employees to gather for some good news. It was supposed to be a happy occasion; but one of the employees – Stan – did his best to dampen the event. Slouching in his seat with one arm draped around the back of his chair, he said, “I suppose now we’ll get to use the executive washroom, eh?”

Stan was known as a rabble-rouser at the plant. You could count on his negative attitude and putdowns of management.

Later, at the General Manager’s Meeting

After the meeting, the general manager summoned Stan to his office.

“I suppose you’re gonna fire me!?” Stan said belligerently.

Paul responded, “You think you’re being funny and smart with your sarcastic remarks; but you’re not smart. Your friends aren’t laughing with you, they are laughing at you. Yeah I could fire you; but you’d just go to another company and get fired there too in time; and the cycle continues; or you could break this cycle right now! With your intelligence, skill, and courage aimed at positive expression, you could become something of value here: a lead hand in a couple of months; maybe even plant foreman in a couple of years! But you have to decide to change your focus… Now, get out of my office!”

The Rest of the Story

It happened. A few months later, the general manager noticed that Stan was one of the volunteers for a weekend job that was optional. In a few months, he became a lead hand and eventually he did become plant foreman.

The Real Impact

Years later, after he’d left the company, Paul was invited back to a company Christmas Party for employees and their families. A lady came up to him and said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am Stan’s wife. And I just wanted to thank you for not firing Stan that day. He is now a volunteer fireman in our community, a loving father to our two boys, and a wonderful husband. Thank you so much.”

Wow! A volunteer fireman; two beloved children; and an appreciative wife. Most managers have no idea of their wide-ranging impact when they properly supervise people at work.

No Supervisor Can Anticipate the Widespread Impact of their Workplace Decisions.

[ As told to me by Paul P. in 2005.]

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