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“If You Loved Me, You’d Buy Me the Barbie Doll”


by Glenn Shepard
September 8, 2015
Category:  Management


Bossier City, LA Sept 15
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Dear Glenn,

I have a young employee that likes to listen to music while she works. I think it looks unprofessional, but she says music makes her more productive. She mostly does data entry and I know her job is boring, but I’m on the fence about this. Is this just a generational thing?  

- Brad in Pierre, SD

Dear Brad,

   The proof is in the pudding. If she doesn’t interact with customers, I’m more concerned about results than anything else.
   Test her for a week without the earbuds, and for a week with them. If she truly is more productive with them – and it does not interfere with any other aspect of her job – buy her a gift card for more music on iTunes.  
   Thanks for your question.

- Glenn in Nashville, TN

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A woman who attended my seminar in Wausau, Wisconsin, was “offended” that I compared management to parenting. I politely told her that she should leave the seminar, and leave management, because the two are inextricably linked.

As a parent, you’re an authority figure in your kids’ lives. As a manager, you’re an authority figure in your employees’ lives.

At a Toys-R-Us store in Columbus, Georgia, I once saw a young mother get played liked a piano by her conniving six-year-old daughter.  

The little girl took a Barbie off the shelf, tilted her head to the side, batted her eyelashes, and in her most angelic voice said, “Mommy, I want this Barbie doll.”

Mom responded “It’s not your birthday and it’s not Christmas. Put it back and maybe Santa will bring it for you.”   

When the charm failed, she turned to negotiating and said, “If you’ll buy it for me now, it can be my Christmas present and my birthday present.” 

Mom responded “What part of no don’t you understand? I said put it back!”  

Relentless, the little girl turned to manipulation and responded, “If you loved me, you’d buy me the Barbie!”  Mom responded, “I’m going to take my belt off and show you how much I love you.”   

When the manipulation failed, the little girl pulled out the biggest weapon in her “Things I can do to get what I want” arsenal. She threw the biggest temper tantrum I’ve ever seen, and used a word I’ve never heard anyone that young use. She stomped, cried, and screamed at the top of her lungs, “You’re a se*ist and you don’t like little girls!!! If I was a boy, you’d buy me a G.I. Joe!!!”

Her voice was so shrill that I expected to hear dogs howling. People walking through the mall were stopping to see what this cruel woman was doing to her innocent little child.  

In her moment of embarrassment, Mom grabbed the Barbie, shoved it in the little girl’s hands, and said, “Here! Take the stupid thing and shut up!”  


Mom just taught her little girl the worst lesson possible: “If you misbehave enough, you’ll get what you want out of life”.  

One day that little girl will grow up, and come to work for you. And it’ll then be your job to teach her the lesson her mother didn’t.

To Your Success,

P.S. This also happens when you inherit bratty, out-of-control employees from weak managers who let them get away with too much for too long. The good news is that it’s never too late for people to change.”

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