• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Work place morale or lack of  RSS feed

 
Larry Bock
Posts: 155
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This post belongs here. Does anyone work at a place where morale is non existent. I'm not talking about an " off day" or one or two negative people. I'm talking a small plumbing/ fire protection shop. Eight to ten people, where an invisible cloud of misery hangs in the air.
  Most of like what we do. I, myself am pretty happy when I'm working with my hands. I'd would really like to say "Larry, it must be you". I've been there for 17 years and it used to be a good upbeat place to work. The guys would laugh and joke while we loaded up in the morning
Decay would be the best term to what happened there. My boss puts help wanted ads in the paper and no one responds lol. Yes,I could just move on but, with me moving in the spring, it's a place to winter over. Mentioned this was meaningless drivel.  Anyone here work at such a place? Anyone have a suggestion to improve what is lacking       Larry
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1322
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
55
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Larry Bock wrote:This post belongs here. Does anyone work at a place where morale is non existent. I'm not talking about an " off day" or one or two negative people. I'm talking a small plumbing/ fire protection shop. Eight to ten people, where an invisible cloud of misery hangs in the air.
  Most of like what we do. I, myself am pretty happy when I'm working with my hands. I'd would really like to say "Larry, it must be you". I've been there for 17 years and it used to be a good upbeat place to work. The guys would laugh and joke while we loaded up in the morning
Decay would be the best term to what happened there. My boss puts help wanted ads in the paper and no one responds lol. Yes,I could just move on but, with me moving in the spring, it's a place to winter over. Mentioned this was meaningless drivel.  Anyone here work at such a place? Anyone have a suggestion to improve what is lacking       Larry


I have been in those situations before.  Almost without fail you have one person that is miserable and a bunch of people that fall onto the bandwagon as soon as that person starts complaining.  The best way I have found to handle it is to immediately counter whatever negative thing that person says with a positive comment.  If you can do that immediately, it can stop that downward spiral before it begins.  I've found that with a little work, it's surprisingly easy.  I have been lucky enough to work around some people that it just seems to come naturally to, and I learned it from them.  It's very easy to fall into the other rut too, where someone says something negative and you follow suit, but once you see the pattern, you can avoid it.  I think you will also notice that other people will respond more to your positive comment than the other person's negative one.  Being negative sucks the life out of people and even if they don't realize it, most people don't want that.  If you counter every negative comment with a positive one, you will probably notice people jumping on to your bandwagon as opposed to the negative one.  You may even turn the complainer around when he/she sees that more people support that.

My brother is an excellent example of what I'm talking about.  He is a commercial roofer and has been for 30 years or so, so he runs his own crew.  He often works under miserable conditions, boiling hot, or freezing cold, removing asbestos and doing really hard labor in dusty, shitty conditions.  It's easy for his guys to start bitching.  One day they were getting ready to go up onto a roof and it was about -20 degrees F without the wind chill, windy, shitty weather.  As soon as my brother got out of the truck, he looked around and said "It's gonna have to get a lot colder than this to keep us down." and headed up the ladder.  With that one sentence he made them into a team, rallied them together and created a common enemy that was not going to beat them.
 
James Freyr
pollinator
Posts: 438
Location: Middle Tennessee
50
books cat chicken food preservation cooking toxin-ectomy trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've worked at such a place with lack of morale before. It was a small family run business and in my experience it wasn't necessarily grumpy co-workers, but the boss/owner who's entire focus in life was money, big house in rich white people part of town and flagship lexus to boot, and it reflected in the pay and resulted in keeping his employees down. Low wages, getting a raise was not exactly common, and if one was given it may have been a "cost of living" 3%. The owner, who was there working with us every day, cared about the bottom line and the ledger, pushing for more net sales. It wasn't an enjoyable place to work. I saw a document one day not intended for my eyes, but left out on top of the paper shredder instead of being shredded. The owner was pulling in $160k annually, at least that was the amount he was paying taxes on, and he made sure to remind me once in a while how the $12/hr I was making was a "good wage" how he had never hired anyone before making "that much". Never got a christmas bonus. This was in 2001. Heh, I remember one day a box arrived from a vendor of freebie, but nice brand embroidered heavy cotton t-shirts, to give away to customers. He instructed me to take them to a coworker to put price tags on them. I kept one for myself. It's just classic american greed, he only cared about himself and his image. Pretty shallow if you ask me.

I also had another job which was practically the polar opposite. Family owned again, but a starting wage of more then double minimum wage, full benefits, 2 week paid vacation the first year, got a christmas bonus, and they were nice people too. They understood that if you treat employees well, they're happy, and happy employees are far more productive.
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 155
8
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the replies. Every morning presents an opportunity to repair things. I started a " social experiment " at the shop this morning. Everyone was greeted with a smile and I attempted upbeat conversations. Went into the office and attempted to engage a miserable human being ( yup my boss) with some ideas about a blank wall and the possibility of perhaps putting some shelving there. Tried not to over due it. It will be interesting to see how it in a week. My work partner tell me to " knock it off" and mentioned something about punching me in my head.  Lol.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4060
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
186
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have been working since I was about 10 years old. Family businesses and then after high school with large corporations. I think about 12 different corporations over the years. Some were great, some, like the one I am at now are hell holes.
What is the difference? The way the bosses do their jobs.

The great ones treat all of their employees with respect, have open door policies, remove roadblocks to employees doing their best work, include employees in decision making, work in teams, give positive reinforcement in the form of everything from pats on the back to large Christmas parties. These managers are people, people who really seem to care about their employees. So moral is very easy to keep up. They seem to understand the golden rule and that workers will do almost anything for a boss who treats them well.

Those who have poor moral have poor managers. They are incompetent, only care about themselves, only care about money, treat people like machines, give themselves bonuses and treats while leaving those who earned it out.  I have worked with thieves, and psychopaths,  managers who publically berated employees with cussing, threatened people with firing, sexually harassed employees, had catered lunches and three, warm, fly ridden,hours latter offer the "help" their leftovers, use company funds to upgrade their offices while the employees work spaces were literally falling apart, filled with bugs, fumes and asbestos.  Kind of hard for anyone to stay upbeat in places like these.

I am counting the years and days that I can finally retire.
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1426
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
100
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can definitely relate to this thread and what everyone has posted. 

The 4 billion dollar a year corporation I work in is a lot like Mile's describes.  There is such a toxic culture of mismanagement that the options are limited.  But there are some good crews and good work environments within it.  You just have to get on the right crews.  Unfortunately that is not the case for me right now.

In my situation, I work with a total narcissist, who happens to be my railway welding foreman.  We work as a two man crew.  He's so completely in love with himself that his every thought and action is formed by it.  Problem is he is not the good at his job, but he thinks that he's the best at it.  This is a dangerous combination, made all the more dangerous by many factors, not the least of which is that he's not the bright, and we work in a dangerous environment.  I try to stay upbeat myself, but there are so many instances where it is impossible that it just brings me down.  If I start a conversation, no matter what it is, the conversation changes within a few minutes to something about him or his experiences, and he will continue talking as if he's in a conversation for nearly an hour without noticing that I have exited the conversation, avoided making eye contact; this is while we drive and the FM radio has faded in the hinterland.  I'm the captive audience.  We go to do our job, and he's supposed to be training me, but his practices are so poor that I have to ignore him out of moral imperative and safety factor.  If time is tight, I'm being micro-managed by a mental midget who uses most of his intellect to delude himself. 

I actually have to quit my present job, which I was just trained at this last winter, because there is no option to transfer in the welding department until another guy retires in two years.  Presently, working local, I still have to commute 40 minutes each way each day for 5 days a week.  That's over 26 hours a month.  So I am either stuck commuting like crazy just to deal with him and stay local to home, or I bid out to a regional job; which means that i would have to drive to work locations (a lot further away) but then be in work trucks for the work cycle until I drive home.  There's no way I can work under this guy for that long so I'm bidding out, and will likely not be welding professionally again.

The best bids I've seen on recent bulletins were on Bridges and Structures as a carpenter.  Creosote wood, but back to wood anyway, which I like to work with.  Another bonus is the hours:  8days on and 6 days off.  I might get even more time at home with this gig and it might be a pay raise once I get through the training and go from labor to carpenter.  There is also a friend of mine on this gang, so I would have at least one guy that I get along with right from the start.  Before this winter is done, I want to be on his crew, I think.     
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1322
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
55
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Roberto pokachinni wrote:I can definitely relate to this thread and what everyone has posted. 

The 4 billion dollar a year corporation I work in is a lot like Mile's describes.  There is such a toxic culture of mismanagement that the options are limited.  But there are some good crews and good work environments within it.  You just have to get on the right crews.  Unfortunately that is not the case for me right now.

In my situation, I work with a total narcissist, who happens to be my railway welding foreman.  We work as a two man crew.  He's so completely in love with himself that his every thought and action is formed by it.  Problem is he is not the good at his job, but he thinks that he's the best at it.  This is a dangerous combination, made all the more dangerous by many factors, not the least of which is that he's not the bright, and we work in a dangerous environment.  I try to stay upbeat myself, but there are so many instances where it is impossible that it just brings me down.  If I start a conversation, no matter what it is, the conversation changes within a few minutes to something about him or his experiences, and he will continue talking as if he's in a conversation for nearly an hour without noticing that I have exited the conversation, avoided making eye contact; this is while we drive and the FM radio has faded in the hinterland.  I'm the captive audience.  We go to do our job, and he's supposed to be training me, but his practices are so poor that I have to ignore him out of moral imperative and safety factor.  If time is tight, I'm being micro-managed by a mental midget who uses most of his intellect to delude himself. 

I actually have to quit my present job, which I was just trained at this last winter, because there is no option to transfer in the welding department until another guy retires in two years.  Presently, working local, I still have to commute 40 minutes each way each day for 5 days a week.  That's over 26 hours a month.  So I am either stuck commuting like crazy just to deal with him and stay local to home, or I bid out to a regional job; which means that i would have to drive to work locations (a lot further away) but then be in work trucks for the work cycle until I drive home.  There's no way I can work under this guy for that long so I'm bidding out, and will likely not be welding professionally again.

The best bids I've seen on recent bulletins were on Bridges and Structures as a carpenter.  Creosote wood, but back to wood anyway, which I like to work with.  Another bonus is the hours:  8days on and 6 days off.  I might get even more time at home with this gig and it might be a pay raise once I get through the training and go from labor to carpenter.  There is also a friend of mine on this gang, so I would have at least one guy that I get along with right from the start.  Before this winter is done, I want to be on his crew, I think.     


I agree with you, in some situations, it's better to cut your losses.  Not sure what it is like in that area, but here, a good welder can work "side jobs" and support himself really well.  Then the only time you have to work with an asshole is if you're it
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1426
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
100
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with you, in some situations, it's better to cut your losses.  Not sure what it is like in that area, but here, a good welder can work "side jobs" and support himself really well.  Then the only time you have to work with an asshole is if you're it 
Ha ha.  That would be cool.  But I'm not super attached to welding. The welding training that I have is adequate but fairly limited, and the certification I received is through my railway, which is not transferable.  Apart from that, getting into welding with a portable welder would be quite the investment.  I don't even own a welder at home yet, let alone a portable one to go out on service calls.  I would guess that a good portable welder is going to cost a fair bit, and would take up most of my truck, be heavy enough that I wouldn't want to take it on and off all the time, and as such make me want to commit to it full time, and probably have yet another vehicle to insure if I wanted a truck for anything else.  There is a possibility of getting a half decent welding truck at an auction at a decent price, but like I said, I'm not that attached to welding as work.  I do plan to get my own welder to do things at home, but no plans for professional work.

It's funny too, considering this thread's subject, that the reason that I bid the welding job was because my other foreman (heavy track maintenance) was dangerous and had an explosive temper.  If I didn't have a mortgage to pay, I had nearly got to the point of quitting outright then, but the welding bid came up, so I took the first option out, and a pay raise, and got paid to learn to weld.  All positives, but I can't stay with this guy, even if I do choose to stay in the corporation.  I'm definitely cutting my losses... The first bid I win. 
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
266
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used to work at a place where the boss would refer to employees as sissies, or pansies, when they couldn't master basic tasks. He took pleasure in firing the laziest and dumbest ones. It was a really fun place for those who weren't at the bottom of the ladder.

I don't hire those guys anymore, and usually work on my own now.
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 155
8
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Keep the responses coming.  We work in two man crews as well. When you think about the numbers, say 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. And that's with spouses seeing each other at the end of the day for a few hours. Now put two human beings in a truck or on a jobsite for eight to ten hours. It's pretty important to have have a good work relationship. 
  Years ago some of us would do things out of work. We would take our kids sledding in the winter, go fishing, go clamming,stop over each other's houses to have a beer,invite each other to family picnics in the warmer months and even help each other with home projects. All of that is a thing of the past. It's kinda sad because these bonds made the the 40 to 50 hours of the work week so much better. I can't quite put my finger on the who, where and when it happened. I do think that the boss owns a large slice of this pie. As I read the previous posts, it all does seem to make sense. This morning I found a significant amount of material at the shop. I went into the office and said " Mike, this should make you happy, I found lots of bla bla bla".  His response? " why would that make me happy". Nuff said ..
  I have still been putting my best foot forward every morning, the social experiment continues. I wonder? Does he even know how bad that it is?  Does he even care??    Please keep the responses coming. The are a help.    Larry
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1426
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
100
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For my part Larry, I try to create conversations on topics where I feel that my work partner and I can get along on.

I wrote this in a previous post:
He's so completely in love with himself that his every thought and action is formed by it. 
but that is not completely accurate.  The man does have a soft spot for animals, and a love a nature, and although he didn't admit to being the father of two girls for years, he now has taken on the role of parenting two girls and when he speaks of them and his time together, his eyes shine with wonder.  I try to steer the conversations to topics where I can feel get to the heart of the man.  The rest of the time (he talks almost constantly) he is trying to puff himself up like a peacock; it's hyperbole, after utter bullshit, after another story about me me me, or his world, and he repeats himself endlessly, like he's on a loop track.  I don't know how many times I've heard the same stories repeated since I started working with him last winter.  If I put in any effort at all (often I just stare out the window, or put earplugs in with the intention of keeping welding slag out of my ears, and ignore him) it is to try to change the topic to a place where the conversation is fresh, or it is about his girls or some animals.  
 
Eric Thomas
Posts: 108
Location: Northeast Oklahoma, Formerly Zone 6b, Now Officially Zone 7
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just got off the phone with my boss, conversation was about just this.  Jack Welch, of GE said "negative people are poison to positive people."  Interesting article that was just circulated around our virtual office.  The cost of getting rid of toxic people has a cost/benefit ratio that makes it well worth an employer to be motivated to get them out of the arena a fast as possible.  Interesting note in the article, people who vigorously claim to be "rule followers" are usually not. 

We have toxic people in our group, they just take on a different shape as we're usually not in the same shop or office, we actually see each other infrequently so daily, and frequent, communication is text/voice/email.  I can attest that technology doesn't stop toxic people from poisoning the company well.  My former employer (medium size corporation) had a "be nice" rule that was enforced by a retired Marine boss; get along or get out, don't let the screen door slap you in the ass.  He had a list of behaviors that he wouldn't tolerate and if he spotted people being toxic more than twice you were GONE.  If you had hard-to-get-along-with peeps you had to get creative in dealing with them without becoming toxic yourself.  It was a nice, if boring, place to work. 
 
Jarret Hynd
Posts: 82
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are just too many reasons for why typical workplaces don't end up being a good environment. My dad is a commercial plumber and he mostly stays on the jobs for the $, but for years there is always a conflict going on around him. From my previous experience in working with companies, there are certainly design flaws in the structure of most companies which cause a lot of these friction points. Has a lot to do with the attitudes of boss/worker aswell, but that's a huge topic to cover.

Todd Parr wrote: Not sure what it is like in that area, but here, a good welder can work "side jobs" and support himself really well.  Then the only time you have to work with an asshole is if you're it 


I recall reading a quote on permies "if you want to make money in america, you need to own your own business" (I think it was a topic about work&taxes)

I'd add on to that quote that being your own boss is probably the easiest way to get a feeling of contentment aswell, though it also brings up the hardest scenarios. With my work, I still have a boss and have some basic tasks to complete each week on the farm, but mostly it's "deal with ___ before this month". Even though I'd call it dead-end since I don't own anything and there is no further position to shoot for, it also give me incentive to work as efficiently as possible while allowing my schedule to be flexible for my own projects - this eliminates many workplace problems altogether. Example: We have a few sections of pasture next to the yard which I'm hoping to change from barbwire to portable electric fence. This will save me at least 80 hours of work a year and make life a lot easier for anyone who eventually has to do the job. My bonus in doing that is I get paid with living, material and social capital.

Joel Salatin's points about why fiefdoms work is what I would call the antidote for the toxic or decaying workplace. Instead of a worker being a # in a system, feeling expendable, working with grouchy people or having to always do things the boss' way, they become somewhat part of the company via a fiefdom, get to do their own things and everyone benefits.

 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3665
Location: Anjou ,France
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used to say to my staff high morale not low morals

David
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1366
149
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I worked at a place one time that had this big work place presentation (400 person factory) and showed a slide that said they had to hire people at $1 more than what they were because no one was coming through the door. This was a high turn over place so probably 1/4 of the workers would be UNDER what the new employees would be getting. In the very next slide they explained that existing employees would NOT be getting any increase in pay.

This angered a lot of workers, and many came up to me, the unofficial foreman of the crew. I was like, "why are you upset, 90 days ago YOU agreed to work for X amount of dollars. You were fine then, why are you upset now because someone else is getting more? That is their deal not yours; you made agreed to it!"

But then the company wanted me (because of the unofficial foreman status) to tell the crew everything would be fine. They would increase their pay as their pay increases hit...180 days, 1 year, etc. This I could not do, mostly because they never took care of me when my pay increases were due. In other words I could not lie for the company.

Needless to say I did not make anyone happy. That is not unusual when you tell the truth and have integrity. 
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1426
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
100
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is not unusual when you tell the truth and have integrity.
  It seems that the more levels of management and the larger the bureaucracy, the less that truth and integrity matter, at least in my experience.  It is far better to omit a falsehood, then to admit a truth that reveals it; at least where I work.  It's a shame that people of integrity have to compromise their morals/ethics/way of being in order to involve themselves in these sorts of enterprises. 

To give an idea of the sort of corporate ideal I work in:

I had a text exchange with my buddy who transfered over to the Bridges and Structures gang.  I asked him how things were going.  He said, " It's definitely weird here... but not terrible and no idiots exactly."  I asked about the how the foreman is.  He said, "She's interesting to say the least."  After asking for more details, he responded, "She stays in the truck all day.  Nice enough, but..."

Now, as Travis is familiar with, on the railway a worker on the track needs protection to do the work (or they will be run over by trains), and sometimes a foreman is getting protection and monitoring a radio and not doing much work or have much involvement in the actual work process (which creates a disconnect between him/her and the workers as most foreman positions are integral to making decisions on the job and figuring stuff out), and so I ask:  "Just a 'protecting foreman' or does she know her shit, bridges wise?"  His response, "The former... and the crew seems to despise her... as do her bosses but she is deep in the union shit."

So if I do leap out of welding, this is where I will go.  (insert evil sounding piano and tuba music here!)   There are not a lot of options, as I can not demote myself back to track maintenance after bidding up in pay to welding, and unlike this new gang, there are plenty of idiots where I am, and it's so weird some days it's surreal.  Unfortunately, for the time being, the job bulletin for October did not have an opening on this gang, so no chance for change.  I was very grateful that for the second time I got to work with the other welding foreman today.  I learned more today than in 9 months with the other guy.
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 155
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Keep the replies coming, they help some. I have been putting my best foot forward at the shop. It was not always like this here. at one time workers would do things out of work. We would take our kids sledding in the winter, go fishing, clamming, attend picnics and just swing over for a beer every now and then. I got to know some of them, out of work.
My boss definitely has something to do with it. After reading some of the posts, I'd swear some of you work at my shop.  Yesterday, I dug out a good amount of material from heaps and boxes for a project I'm starting. I went into the office and told him " this should make you happy, I found most of the material in the shop". His response " why would that make me happy?"... I just saved him $600?, money is the most important thing to the man. As mentioned in a previous post, hisemployees mean nothing to him. I've been here for 17 years. It's almost if he has no.....soul?  When I mentioned that these posts helped, I meant that sincerely.    Larry
 
Look ma! I'm selling my stuff!
Jacqueline Freeman - Honeybee Techniques - streaming video
https://permies.com/wiki/65175/videos/digital-market/Jacqueline-Freeman-Honeybee-Techniques-streaming
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!