Advice on International Women’s Day
I’m sharing this story on International Women’s Day to inspire both the male and female managers in the audience. Mine is a story to empower you to always do the right thing, regardless of your position in the firm. Each of us has a responsibility to be fair.
The Project Was Something No One Would Want To Do
The General Manager called me into his office one early morning. He described in detail the research project he wanted my staff to do on our customer base. It took every ounce of strength in my body not to groan as he described it. Regardless of his passion, the project was at best stupid and to make it worse, of no possible value to the firm.
Trudging back to my desk, I watched my employees as they leaned over their computers doing their jobs. So, which one would I pick to do this senseless project?
A Detailed Description
I called them all into my cubicle. Once they were all standing around me, I described the new directive. As I look back on that morning, I have to give them credit. Not one person groaned as I had wanted to do when he gave me the directive.
My pause was a silent prayer to handle this situation in a way that didn’t single out any person as the lowest member of the team. Regardless, whoever I assigned this task to would never again believe they were considered a valuable team member.
I took a deep breath and began to speak. I outlined the project exactly as the General Manager gave it to me.
“You don’t have to say a word. This project is not something I agree with, and I know what each of you is thinking. So, here’s what we’re going to do.
Their eyes were huge as they waited for me to drop the bomb.
“Shirley, I want you to take over my collection calls today. The list is there on the corner of my desk. The 90-day list is the most critical. At this point, we’ve lost the majority of our profits to these customers. Each day they continue to be past-due on their debt means we pay more in bank interest to keep the company running smoothly.”
Shirley grabbed the sheet with a huge smile on her face.
“Karen, I need you to sit in for me at the sales meeting. My report is ready to present, and all you need to do is read it to them. Otherwise, I want you to continue with your projects for today.”
Karen’s smile lit up the room as she reached for the report I held in my hand.
“Becky, I need you to pick up Karen’s calls during the meeting and to continue working on the month-end reports.”
Becky grinned from ear-to-ear as she nodded in agreement.
I saw Sharon’s face fall. She knew I chose her for a day of senseless drudgery.
“Sharon, you will change desks with me today. I need you to take the position of Credit Manager. I’ll work at your desk.”
Did I Hear What I Thought I Heard?
“That just about covers it. I’ll sit at Sharon’s desk today and work on the Executive Project.”
Other heads around the room began to pop up with the audible gasps that erupted from my employees. They felt dumbfounded that I assigned the drudgery of this senseless project to myself.
Several of them offered to take on the project so I could get on with my day, but I refused.
That was the day I learned how to be a real manager. The answer to my prayer came when I realized that no decent manager would ever assign a task to an employee they wouldn’t do themselves.
When five o’clock came, I was still at Sharon’s desk. My back was killing me, my eyes were blurred, and I was more than a little angry. I knew the General Manager would never use the report, but I gave it my all.
One-by-one my staff came over to bid me goodnight as they left for the day. Each of them gave me a heartfelt ‘thank you’ as they handed me their timecards.
I finally finished the project around seven and closed up the computer. It wasn’t International Women’s Day; it was a typical day that felt remarkable.
My staff became much more devoted to me after that day. They climbed mountains to make sure they did their jobs and did them well. It didn’t take long to realize they worked harder and longer, even skipping breaks if a critical task was underway.
The Moral: Never Ask An Employee to Do Something You Wouldn’t Do Yourself!
Be Safe. Be Loved. Pass It On!