Why Your Employees Act Like Employees

Today’s blog posting falls under the category of You Simply Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from my clients is, “Why do my employees act like employees?” In other words, why don’t they act like me? I could write a book about this. In the interest of time and space, I’ll limit my response.


A title, without authority is just that–A title. Here’s a perfect example. I was at my local grocery store this morning picking up a few items. While there, I ran into the manager of the meat department. I asked her if she could educate me on how to best select a particular cut of meat. She told me there was little difference. I then proceeded to explain that we purchased three pounds of this cut to serve at our dinner party Friday night. Once grilled, we found that the meat was too stringy to eat.

Instead of walking over and issuing me a refund right on the spot, she asked me why I didn’t return the cooked meat. True story. I’m still trying to picture the look on the faces of my guests if I had scooped up their steaks, right from under them, and dashed to the store. Exhausted from the conversation, I simply left the store shaking my head.

People follow their leader’s example. Have you looked in the mirror lately? Do you use a respectful tone when interacting with your employees and customers? Does your summer wardrobe look more like cruise wear than business attire? Take a close look at yourself, before passing judgment on others.

Not everyone wants to be like you – Stop assuming that everyone wants to be in management. You know first-hand that you have to make a lot of sacrifices when you are in management. Instead, ask your employees how you can help them achieve their goals. Be prepared for a glazed look to appear over their eyes. Chances are that no one has ever taken the time to ask them this question. Then be prepared to help them make their dreams come true.

Rid your organization of stupid policies – Empower your employees to make decisions so they can satisfy your customer’s needs on the spot. Employees at any Ritz-Carlton hotel, are allowed to spend up to $2,000 to resolve customer complaints. And as long as there is a valid reason, there is no limit on number of times employees use that empowerment.

Hmm…I think I’ll send this blog posting to the President of the supermarket chain where I shopped this morning. Better yet, I’ll send him a cooked steak dinner and suggest that he chew on this, while thinking about why his employees are acting like employees.



Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Human Resource Solutions

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About the author

For more than 25 years, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company and small to medium-size businesses, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is known world-wide as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta, a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty, is the author of the top-selling book, Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011), a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book For Leaders