Being a Manager Means Doing What Needs to be Done

When I started dating my late husband, I was a 26-year-old engineer and he was 44-year-old manager. In addition to forever losing any possibility of criticizing age differences for any boyfriends our daughters might bring home, it also means that he had a view on life that I often did not appreciate until years later.

He had an excellent reputation as a manager, and I asked him,

“What is it that makes you so successful in your job? “

He answered in that slow, country drawl of his,

“Well, darlin’ the key to being a good manager is to see what needs to be done and then do it.”

I argued that was redundant, of course anyone who saw what needed to be done would do it. He just shook his head at my naiveté .

He was right.

Very often these days, I find myself facing tasks that I don’t want to do. I don’t want to criticize someone’s work, stay until 2 a.m. to work on a deadline, tell someone we won’t take a contract to work with them because it does not fit with our strategic plan (yes, unbelievably, we have one). I don’t want to tell anyone that their skills just don’t fit with what we need at the moment, no matter how nice and smart of a person they might be. I don’t want to throw out a design and start over because the first one did not meet our client’s needs.

These are the times I feel like whining,

Can’t someone else do it?

The answer is no. It’s my job to make decisions and follow through.

The fact is that many people see what needs to be done and, paradoxically, they DON’T do it. They put it off, they have meetings about it, avoid seeing the people involved.

When I catch myself thinking I will talk a decision over with other staff members, tackle a problem when I get back from a trip, I stop and ask myself whether I’m really just avoiding doing what I know needs to be done. More often than I’d like to admit, the answer is “Yes”. Once I face up to the facts, I just bite the bullet and have what my late husband used to call a

“come to Jesus meeting. Why, darlin’ that’s when we all sit down and I explain things to them and then they see the light.  And if they don’t, “

he said, taking a long drag on his Marlboro cigarette,

“well, then, I fire their sorry asses.”

So, there is another thing I learned in almost 55 years. When you see what needs to be done, do it.



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