Cover the Employee’s Back

As I wrote the prior post about the need for employees to cover the boss’ back, I had this post, and the next one, in mind, because covering for each other is critical. It is important for a boss to keep the health and well being of the employees in mind. In our 30+ years of being employers, Melissa and I have had examples of issues where this came into play. One employee had an issue with the hostility of another employee. In that instance, we were kept in the dark about the extent of the behavior by other employees (see next post). For other reasons, the “bad” employee was terminated and the truth of the hostility came out. Another example was on a research day, when a mock juror was verbally abusive and made racially derogatory comments to one of our employees. Melissa overhead these comments and immediately jumped in to help our employee by dismissing the abusive mock juror. I was quickly enlisted to escort the abuser out of the room and facility. We have always known we did the right thing by ending the abuse as quickly as possible and ensuring there was no residual impact on our team member. Another memorable occasion was when one of our employees, a black, Haitian, male, was followed by our local police department and stopped for questioning on multiple occasions while in our neighborhood. I decided the only way to “cover the employee’s back” was to approach a supervisor in our small police department about the issue. Ironically, the supervisor was a minority as well, an Asian man, who at first didn’t know how to react to the situation. But, after a bit of discussion, he helped me come up with a solution that eliminated the “harassment” of our minority employees. These are things you never learn about in business school. Things you may not consider otherwise. But, they are things that demonstrate the need to look out for employees in ways that go beyond the norms of a job.

I strive to be a good boss.  I thank all of my employees, and vendors, for completing tasks to which they have been assigned.  I thank the employees at the end of every work day for everything they have done that day to help me.  I am aware that, absent the help I receive from many people, I cannot perform my job on behalf of Magnus’ clients.  As David mentioned in this, and prior, posts, I will not tolerate any abuse, verbal or physical, of my employees by anyone, ever.  I have, unfortunately, witnessed many occasions when an employee has been subjected to what, in my opinion, is abuse.  From the old white woman in the airport who would not allow one of my employees to sit by her, but who happily allowed me to occupy the seat that, apparently, was “reserved” for another white woman, to the outrageous and racially charged mock juror who hurled racist insults at another employee, I have always taken care of the situation.  On all days when Magnus is conducting a mock trial or focus group in a hotel or research facility, I ensure my employees eat their meals before the clients.  Why?  Because I know the clients can eat anytime and the employees, who will be working long hours, are hungry, tired, with little time available to enjoy their meals.  Magnus’ policy manual, which I wrote several years before we had any employees, includes numerous prohibitions on mistreatment of employees by anyone with whom they interact at work, including clients, vendors, other employees, and research participants.  Not only is it my duty to ensure my employees are protected at all times when they are working, it is the right thing to do.


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