The Heavy Handed Supervisor

Previously, we spoke about the Spanish speaking supervisor who rules with a heavy hand. Hispanics in the workplace have a word for this type of individual, a “mandón”. The word is certainly not complimentary and it is usually associated with someone who has the characteristics of a dictator. Unless you’re in the mandón’s inner circle, working life for most Hispanics in the workplace is an unpleasant experience. Since it’s impossible to feel motivated under these harsh conditions, the team members will usually do only what is absolutely necessary.

What makes this situation even more troubling is the fact that this type of behavior by the mandón often goes unreported. Unless the department manager is aware enough to know what’s going on in the production area, a complaint or objection from the team members will almost never surface. True, the team members will talk about it among themselves but that’s as far as it will go.

There are two main reasons for this: The employees’ inability to communicate their concerns in English to the higher ups and; the fear of retaliation by their immediate supervisors. The proof of this is that mandóns can be found in almost every production area across the country. They have been employing their aggressive management tactics for years and they continue to do so. Most front line Hispanics in the workplace passively accept this behavior as a consequence of working life in America and carry on with the workday as best as they can.

There is no good reason why this form of behavior should continue. There are many constructive measures that you, as a leader, can take to change this type of workplace culture in the production area. The most obvious and effective method is to provide the supervisors with the leadership training they need. Once they learn to replace their aggressive behavior with constructive communication and motivational skills, positive changes begin to occur in the production area.

Another worthwhile suggestion is to place an employee feedback box in the production area. In order for this to work however; the employees must be informed that their individual feedback will remain completely anonymous. This is easier said than done. It is up to you to convince them that their opinions really matter. The way you do this is by constantly communicating at every opportunity that their privacy will be protected.

Hispanics in the workplace need to know that their job security will not be jeopardized if they choose to voice their concerns and grievances. Addressing those concerns to their satisfaction is often a challenging and arduous task. Once you begin to act on their issues in a fair and honest manner however; you’ll be well on the way to gaining their trust and confidence.