Sunday, August 18, 2013
My life changed dramatically when my boss came in on a Monday and died suddenly in the hallway. I abruptly became responsible for a lot of people and a whole lot of money. I told the ladies, “You know your jobs. I expect you to do them. Let me know how I can help.”
This was a radical change for them. It was also radically different when I told them I like to lead by consensus. They were used to the boss issuing orders they had to follow. If asked for their opinions, they stood a pretty fair chance of getting yelled at. I started having weekly meetings. They bring their coffee and laugh a lot. I added a guy, so we aren’t being sexist.
“I want to work in a happy office. If you’re happy, I’m happy.” In an office all about numbers, I don’t think anybody dared to hope for emotional support. Just do your job and shut up, you know?
One woman told me that before I took over, her desk was always neat. Now her desk is covered with paper all the time. I worried she was going to say I was pushing her too hard, but then she popped out with “I love it!” She broke out into the most beautiful smile and my heart did a little flip flop.
I like the people in the office. They go out of their way to say they like me too. This is a far cry from the last office where I worked where I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to have fights. I had 3 bosses, all making a point of subjugating everyone else. The company folded after I left. It deserved to fail.
I worked with one of those people at a previous job, decades before. He was overpaid, undertalented, and really great at making people at the top believe he deserved power and compensation. That company folded after I left too. Sometimes I wonder how it is that big bosses don’t look at the general misery of the workers and see it as a reflection of how well a person supervises.
Some people think that miserable workers show the strength of the supervisor, but it suppresses ideas. Maybe it’s because I’m an artist, but I think I see the overview of power. If the people in my office feel confident, happy, and constructive, they help me do more, and do more better than if I keep them all oppressed. They offer ideas and take initiative, and I like seeing other people’s creativity bloom.
And yeah, the numbers are holding up too, and I couldn’t have accomplished that without the help of everyone else in the office. It isn’t my success – it’s the success of everyone in the hive. We all made it happen, and they know it. They trust me because I trust them. That’s power.