How should a manager behave?

I’m in a position at work where you could safely describe me as a peon.  There is nobody below me on the ladder.  When anyone in the company shits, it usually falls on me.

So I’ve been a bit torn by how the manager of my store talks to me.  If he has a problem with some of the other peons that work for him (that are equal with me in ‘rank’), he sometimes talks about it to me or anyone else that will listen.  He will let me know how somebody screwed up by not doing that one thing they were supposed to do last night.  He will complain about how he wishes they would do a certain job better.  I guess it seems like a much different attitude than my last job.

In my previous job, the manager would never (or at least should never)complain about an hourly employee in front of another hourly employee.  If there was a complaint about an hourly employee, it would be done privately with only that employee.  Management should not be in the business of gossip.  Of course, when management was by themselves, they could complain about the hourly employees all they want.  It’s a matter of professionalism.

I could attribute the difference to the fact that I’m dealing with two completely different work cultures.  Also, my previous job had unionized hourly employees while my current job does not.  A union changes everything, whether for better or worse (since I was in management, it was usually worse from my point of view).

In my current job, I’m being trained to eventually become a store manager.  I suppose that could also be the reason that the store manager decided it was okay to talk about those things around me.  Yesterday, when he was complaining about a particular employee, I think he noticed my discomfort.  He asked me if he’d gone too far in talking like that.  I told him frankly, yes.  I explained that since I wasn’t in management yet, there should be a limit to what he should say to me.

At least he is aware enough to know that maybe there should be some self-censoring going on when you’re in that kind of position.  He seems new to the game when it comes to management.  I had some pretty good teachers myself, and I hope that I’ll be able to carry my lessons from my previous job into whatever I do next.

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