By Rufu, Malaysia
When mentioning a “superior,” I think that quite a few people will think of the words “strict” and “demanding.” I also used to think that a superior should be strict with their subordinates, and their word should be law—I thought that was the only way to properly manage staff. But when faced with reality, I saw that was definitely not a good approach!
Six months after I entered the world of work, I was promoted to be the general manager of the company’s Human Resources Department. I wanted to improve my team’s performance in order to prove my own management capability, so I demanded that my subordinates work very efficiently and quickly, otherwise I’d give them a talking to, no matter what the reason was. The daily reports they turned in also had to be entirely error-free; if one wasn’t up to my standards, not only would I chide them, but would have them go back and change it until I was happy with it.
One time, one of the employees didn’t do well on a report. I told her how it should be changed, but she still didn’t do it right. Finally, I threw out the entire notebook, saying: “Just forget about it, I’ll have someone else do it. I don’t have the patience to wait around for you.” She was trembling with fear from my behavior, but I didn’t care, thinking that she was just lazy and wasn’t willing to expend any mental energy. There was another time when another employee asked me a question, and it sounded too simple to me, so I became really angry and scolded her: “How many times have I told you? When you have a question, think about it and figure it out yourself. Why are you asking me something so simple?” She hung her head and walked off, just saying “Oh.” Soon after that I heard that she had been in the restroom crying. I had a bit of a pang of conscience and a sense that my management style was too harsh, but then I thought: If I’m not strict with them how will they get their work done well? So, I didn’t take it to heart.
After a period of time, my strict management approach became very well-known around the company, and whenever new staff were hired they’d ask the manager not to be placed in my department. But since my department functioned efficiently, he kept assigning people to work under me. Everyone who joined the department was full of anxiety and trepidation at work, afraid of being rebuked by me if they made a mistake. They’d chat with each other in really quiet voices and if they saw me coming, they’d immediately go back to their own desk. Seeing that things were like that, I felt somewhat helpless. My staff gradually didn’t want to get anywhere near me and they wouldn’t speak to me unless it was necessary for their work. I started to feel lonely, and I knew that it was my management style that was making them afraid, but I thought that in order to manage the team well, I didn’t have a choice.
In April 2015, I ended up in the supermarket business and became the general manager of a new store, in charge of all the store’s operations. Again, in order to put together an outstanding team and show off my own leadership capabilities, I demanded that my staff were not only quick when stocking and re-stocking products, but that they arranged things in an orderly and aesthetically pleasing way. If they were slow or didn’t understand my instructions, I’d scold them: “Don’t you have a brain? How could you arrange products that way? You don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t even bother to ask someone else—what is that mouth of yours for, anyway?” But what I hadn’t expected was that using the same management style in that store not only didn’t result in an improvement in work efficiency, but lots of employees started quitting at an average of one or two every month. Almost no one hung on for more than six months.
Seeing that this management approach not only wasn’t achieving good results but was leading to more and more staff resignations, I felt ineffective and alone with the problem. At that point I had to reflect: Why am I so diligent in my management, but things are turning out like this? I felt incredibly at a loss and didn’t know what I should do.
Later, I read in the word of God: “Once a man has status, he will often find it difficult to control his mood, and so he will enjoy seizing upon instances to express his dissatisfaction and vent his emotions; he will often flare up into rage for no apparent reason, so as to reveal his ability and let others know that his status and identity are different from those of ordinary people. Of course, corrupt people without any status will also frequently lose control. Their anger is frequently caused by damage to their individual benefits. In order to protect their own status and dignity, corrupt mankind will frequently vent their emotions and reveal their arrogant nature. Man will flare up in anger and vent his emotions in order to defend the existence of sin, and these actions are the ways with which man expresses his dissatisfaction. These actions brim with defilement; they brim with schemes and intrigues; they brim with man’s corruption and evil; more than that, they brim with man’s wild ambitions and desires.” After readingI finally understood that losing my temper whenever I felt like it was from being under the control of a satanic arrogant disposition, and it was entirely to protect my own status and dignity. I realized that after becoming a manager, in an effort to prove myself capable and establish a good image within the company, in every facet of work I made strict demands of employees and if they couldn’t meet them, I’d address them from my position as leader and lose my temper and scold them at will. Wasn’t me getting angry just because if employees did substandard work, I couldn’t prove that I was a capable manager and I’d lose face in the company? Even though I got some good results from that management style at first, it was also very restrictive for my staff and my relationship with them became very cold. It was just a superior-subordinate relationship, and it got to the point that no one even wanted to work in my department. And then when I used the same methods to manage the supermarket it led to a large number of employee resignations. I saw that by relying on my own corrupt disposition to manage staff, all I did was harm and restrict my staff, and I also hurt the supermarket’s bottom line. I thought that as a Christian, my actions should glorify and bear witness to God, and I shouldn’t think only of my own position and interests. I particularly couldn’t rely on my own corrupt disposition to lose my temper and scold others. I then prayed to God and resolved to no longer satisfy my personal ambitions and desires, randomly berating staff because of my satanic disposition.
From then on, when employees didn’t understand something, I’d practice patiently explaining it to them, and when there were issues with their work I’d provide them with guidance and help. Although at times I still did let someone know that they hadn’t done something well, I would no longer scold them about it, but would just explain it to them clearly so that they would understand the consequences of the error. Once they understood it, they were happy to make improvements. After putting that into practice for a period of time, my relationship with the staff was no longer so rigid and I felt much freer at heart.
It wasn’t too long before another environment came upon me. A new person was hired in the store, and she was not of very high caliber. She never completed tasks well that I had assigned to her, and even after training her a number of times, not only did she still not understand, but wouldn’t ask other people how to do things. I felt some irritation, thinking: “How could she become competent at work that way? I may as well let her go and save a lot of trouble.” When that occurred to me I felt really uneasy; I then came before God in prayer: “Oh God! I really can’t stand this employee and I want to let her go, but I’m feeling really uneasy. I don’t know how to handle this; please guide me.”
I later told a sister in the church about my state, and she read a passage of God’s words for me: “Among all things of creation, from the great to the small, from the small to the microscopic, there was none which was not created by the authority and power of the Creator, and there was a unique and inherent necessity and value to the existence of each creature. Regardless of the differences in their shape and structure, they had but to be made by the Creator to exist under the authority of the Creator.” She also read something else from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “Be able to approach others properly. That is, don’t look up to them, but don’t look down on them. Whether another person is foolish or intelligent, if they are of high or low caliber, if they are rich or poor, you should not be biased and rely on emotions. Don’t force your own preferences on others and particularly do not force your own dislikes on others. This is not forcing someone into something they don’t want to do. When doing things do not just look at yourself; you must also look at the other person and learn more about how to be considerate of others so that others may benefit.”
She then shared this in fellowship: “There is a need for every single thing created by God to exist; everyone has their strengths and their own inherent value. Even though every one of us grows up in different environments and is of different caliber, we have to treat people the way they should be treated and do more to find out what people’s strong points are, then find a suitable position for them based on their strengths. Don’t try to put a square peg into a round hole. It’s not fair to always treat people and demand things of them based on our own personal standards, and it comes from an arrogant disposition. That’s why we need to be more understanding and tolerant of others’ deficiencies and shortcomings. We should help others from a place of love—that’s the only way to achieve fairness in our dealings.”
After hearing this sister’s fellowship, I understood that God has created everyone differently, and that we all have our individual strengths. I shouldn’t look down on others, and I particularly shouldn’t impose my own demands on others, trying to force them to do work they just can’t do. Instead, I should make suitable arrangements based on their capabilities while also learning how to respect and be understanding of others; I also need to do everything I can to help them. I also thought of the fact that that employee hadn’t been in the position for very long and wasn’t very familiar with the position. Not completing tasks well was excusable, and I should be understanding and arrange suitable work for her. I couldn’t be too demanding.
After that, I gave her some simple tasks in accordance with the practical situation. After doing that for a while, I discovered that she was a really hard worker as well as honest and obedient. She would do everything she could to finish everything I assigned to her, and sometimes even when her own work was finished she’d volunteer to help others. Those aspects of her character were things that I myself didn’t possess. I thought of the fact that at first, because of my arrogant disposition I had thought about firing her because she wasn’t up to my standards, which made me unable to see where she shone; then the store would have lost a really good staff member. I gave thanks to God for His guidance!
In the days that followed, I no longer relied on my arrogant disposition, making harsh demands of employees based on my own standards. I started giving them more guidance and telling them how to arrange their work. Sometimes when an employee didn’t do something perfectly, as long as they had put effort into it and done their best, I was able to be understanding of them. My relationship with my staff members gradually became better and better, and sometimes we joke around and chat with each other. There isn’t such a gulf between everyone, and there’s more of an implicit understanding in work cooperation.
A few months later there was a major Malaysian holiday and we started getting really large shipments into the store. I was also busy with work arrangements. When I saw that work was progressing really slowly, I became concerned that our inventory would start piling up and our storage space would be too full—that would be a serious problem. I started to feel anxious and once again had the impulse to rely on my corrupt disposition to prod them to work faster, but at the same time I was concerned about my staff being stifled. So, I prayed to God and asked Him to quiet my heart, and then sought a suitable course of action. Once my heart was quieted I thought of how everyone has their own personal strengths and that I should arrange for each of them to take on the most suitable position so that they can best play their own particular role, and then I should provide them with the appropriate guidance. Once I did that, I saw that everyone was really playing their role well and the goods in storage were dealt with just in time for new shipments to come in. Everything went very smoothly and everyone gained more and more confidence in their work. I also felt much more relaxed.
Through that experience, I saw that when I relied on my corrupt disposition in my dealings with staff, not only was it very restrictive for everyone, but it also harmed the supermarket’s interests. When I put God’s words into practice, not only did my relationship with my staff improve, but work went extremely smoothly. I saw from this that God’s words are the standard for how I should be a good person, and putting His words into practice can transform my corrupt disposition and allow me to live out proper humanity. I also saw that putting God’s words into practice will gain God’s blessing and guidance, providing me with internal peace and joy. In the future, I will pursue the truth more and put God’s words into practice! Thank God, and all the glory be to.
Read more on our Christian in the Workplace page, or in the recommended articles below.