To My Husband’s Former Employer,
The cover of your Employee Handbook says it all; your mission statement printed in royal blue… clearly the focus. I normally don’t do things like this… things that might burn bridges. In fact, my mission throughout my work, is to turn walls into bridges. But I’m not writing to talk about me, because the truth is, I don’t think you’re ready to listen; but my hope is that you at least hear me before others continue to leave your island.
My husband is hard working. His dream was to drive a semi and driving for his favorite beverage company was the icing on the cake. You scored big when he accepted the job. In over 10 years he’s missed less than 5 days of work due to illness; he’s reliable, hardworking, and his driving record is immaculate. Not only is he reliable but he does what it takes to get the job done. And last year, in 2017, that was a total of 317 hours of overtime.
That was not a typo… 317 hours of overtime.
I share that number, because in all honesty, it was at the heart of my husband’s departure from your company, when we decided as family that it was no longer in his best interest or ours as a family, for him to continue to work for your company. Since I know that this year you’ve made it your goal to cut overtime at any cost, I’ll spare you some time and cut to the chase.
Congratulations! You’ve succeeded in fulfilling your mission: To be the best supplier of refreshing beverages… period.
After all, it’s all about the numbers. My husband repeatedly reminded me of that. It was drilled into him by his supervisor. Don’t get me wrong, not all leaders within your company treat people poorly; his first supervisor was great. And even when things were challenging, his first supervisor had the skillset to listen to people; to make them feel heard and valued. And to demonstrate that, his first supervisor followed through on everything he said. And then a little over two years ago, he was assigned a new supervisor. With every new type of leadership there is a period of adjustment, so I encouraged my husband to give it time; and he did. But there are two types of people in positions of power, leaders and ladder climbers. Congratulations, you promoted a ladder climber to a leadership position. And because he was quick to write people up while also cutting them down, your own people who are helping you fulfill your mission, are afraid to speak up.
Until last week.
Last week, after over a month of overtime, broken promises from his supervisor about riding along to see what actually happens on his route… yeah that’s right, you put a cook in the kitchen who has never used an oven… and a phone call from my husband where he was having a breakdown because he was working in a hostile environment under an individual who has no business leading people, I told him that it was time to be done.
And here’s why.
You care about the numbers, but the wrong ones. You’ve got Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle inside out. While you’re busy worrying about numbers and overtime that affect the bottom line, here’s the numbers that I’m worried about:
5 – The average number of the hours of sleep that my husband got each night, so he could spend some time with his family, before waking up at 3:45am to get ready to start at 5am
1 – The average number of lunch breaks per week my husband actually took, even though they were deducted from his paycheck, because he was so concerned with not having overtime that he didn’t eat so he could get back to your plant at a somewhat decent time
1 – The number of holidays at home with my family, who lives out-of-state, that we have been able to share in the last 4.5 years, because your policy states that vacation must be taken in one week increments and he’s not “high enough” on the ladder to have a Christmas Eve or day after Thanksgiving off
317 – The number of hours of overtime that he worked in 2017… we’ve already covered this
3 – The number of floating holidays your company provides, because you value product over people and clearly people needing their beverages is more important than people spending time with their family… although I’d bet your customers would value you more, if you explained that you were closing because you valued your employees… your people… but that’s not your mission.
And last but not least, 0… The number of days notice we as a family decided would be best so that my husband didn’t have to endure the hostile work environment that you either were oblivious to or allowed to happen. And that was a hard decision, because I own a business and I know first-hand how it feels to be in a bind… but I also put my people first – no matter what. And before you read this and think I don’t know, because I wasn’t there… think again. Because of what he was describing to me – the panic attacks he was having – we decided the conversations with his supervisor should be recorded because his supervisor was so demeaning and hostile, my husband didn’t think anyone would believe what he had to say; three recorded conversations with a supervisor who cared only about knocking people down and threatening him by using phrases such as “inefficient” repeatedly and reminding him that he had the power to “take further action” if needed. Most of these meetings lasting an hour. My husband has never been fired from a job or written up. He took it personally and yet his supervisor didn’t give a damn. Can you say power trip?
What is most upsetting to me, is that it didn’t have to be this way; and for those still working for you, it doesn’t have to continue to be this way for them. You have a choice. And it’s a pretty simple principle:
When you put people first, profit naturally falls in line and follows. Happy people who are well cared for and feel valued, will put in the time and they will work for your mission. They will ensure that you truly are the best supplier of refreshing beverages… period. The one thing my husband said he’ll miss is the one thing you put last… his fellow drivers, his first supervisor, and those who work in the office… people; he just couldn’t stay in a hostile environment under a supervisor on a power trip.
Tomorrow is a new day for our family and here are the numbers I’m focusing on:
8 – The average number of hours of sleep my husband will get
6 – The number of eggs he and I will enjoy together for breakfast
4 – The number of cups of coffee we’ll share together.
1 – The first day of the rest of his life, of being self-employed, and working with someone who said to him, “You are a hard worker. I want to work “with” you; I don’t like the phrase working “for”. We’ll work together, and I know you’re eager to learn. You are a genuine human and that’s important.”
Every good business owner knows that numbers are important; but it’s important to know which numbers you should focus on first and it’s people… that’s the bottom line.
My final piece of advice for you is a quote from Simon Sinek “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”. And I’m not sold.