Working for a small manufacturing company has some perks. For example… I wear jeans and skate shoes to work every day. I need only look clean and presentable. I’m very good at my job and the team of employees that I supervise move heaven and earth to please me. We look great as a department. We operate efficiently and maintain good positive attitudes, while consistently meeting and exceeding management expectations. We are human though and we do make mistakes. We try very hard to do our jobs perfectly because we know how costly our mistakes are. We know because every mistake is drilled down to one employee, blame assigned and another pebble placed in the gunny-sack. I digress, so sorry.
The company owner is a nice man with real world experience in the products we manufacture. He is reasonably hands-on with the company overall but I think he insulates himself from some realities. Picture a typical retirement-aged, ex-party-guy, reformed 80’s playboy, made good overall but has paid for a number of impulsive and ill-advised decisions over the years. The best lasting feature is a well-manicured and twinkling smile. His children are grown (one of whom holds a job here, naturally) and his wife is recovering from organ transplant surgery. I know he fancies himself as quite a figure among the employees. I’m quite sure he feels worthy of their love and appreciation for his generosity and good nature. He drives a beautiful new $40,000 car.
A little history here: when the economy crashed in 2008, our company downsized like many at that time. We cut staff to a minimum and even had to cut hours for a while. Finally the company asked us all to take a 10% pay cut to save our jobs. They explained that as the economy improved, we would earn back the 10% in the form of a “discretionary bonus” (a phrase which means the bonus is predicated by the mood of our boss) which would be paid across the board for each month that we met a certain amount in invoices. We have worked very hard every month to earn that badly needed 10% (sometimes 15%, it is “discretionary” after all). In the meantime and since 2008, all salaries have been frozen and in spite of the number of glowing performance reviews and the owners repeated assertions that we are the best “team” of employees EVER, everyone knows that they better not even fanaticize of asking for a raise. Some long-time employees here make less than they did five years ago.
Today, payday, brings with it a “newsletter” reminding everyone that we had a very good year and that the company is growing. They asked us to remember the new computers that the company bought and the old ones which they generously gave to the employees (incurring no costs for dangerous material disposal). It touted the investments made in new machines, new products, a new website and our entry into social networking. It suggested that we shouldn’t forget the picnics and BBQs and the lovely holiday party that the company gave us this year. The flavor of the “newsletter” was that ultimately, all these investments would pay dividends and opportunities for more money. *cough* It concluded by telling us to remember how much mistakes cost the company and to work smarter to avoid mistakes. *gag*
So there are people here who feel trapped and under-valued. They see lots of money being spent on growing the company, making more and more work to meet bigger and bigger goals and in spite of the bigger and bigger cost of just eating and driving a car and having a home, there is no realistic or tangible investment being made in them. The future looks bleak… based on the past.
So my question is this: will this company owner ever realize the key to having great success is having employees who feel valued and are willing to invest themselves in the companies’ collective success?