While shopping, I came across an incident that angered me no end. I overheard a manager berating an employee in front of his customers. The poor employee took the tongue lashing and then slipped away like a whipped dog. I was so angry at this I wanted to call the executive, and give him the same treatment that he gave his employee, but of course, I didn't. I was as embarrassed as the employee was and I wondered why I was even shopping in a place that would treat their employees that way.
What makes a person act in that manner? He was old enough to know better. He could just as easily have taken the young man into his office and discussed the matter in private. Perhaps it made him feel big to make the employee look small. All it accomplished was making himself look ridiculous. This man will no doubt lose customers and the respect of his employees.
I thought to myself that he should have been like my favorite boss, who seldom lost his cool no matter how bad it got. He was calm and tried to figure out the best way to handle any given situation.
When it came to his staff, he trained you well and then gave you a job to do. He told you what must be accomplished and then let you do it your own way, as long as it got the desired results. If you had a better way of doing something, he was open to suggestions. That's what I call a good boss. He inspired his staff to work hard and treat everyone with respect.
When I was transferred to the home office, I asked my boss, "What is my new job description?"
He said, "You know all those things you used to bang on my desk to get? Now you take care of them."
I then asked, "What are my boundaries?"
He said, "I'll let you know if you ever cross them."
I guess I never did, because he didn't say a word. It's hard to put into words how proud I was at that moment. In those few words, he showed me that he had so much confidence in my ability to handle my job that he felt he could give me free rein. Not many bosses would do that.
But then, I told you he was my favorite boss and for good reason. He took a woman who had very little confidence in her abilities and filled her with enough self-confidence to tackle anything she wanted to try. He pushed me beyond my comfort zone many times, to gain more experience in other areas of banking. When I finally found my place in the business world, I was completely happy.
It worked out well for both of us and I enjoyed my job for 24 and a half years before retirement. I couldn't have worked for a boss that wasn't patient, understanding, and knew how to handle people to bring out the best in them.
One of these days he will retire and we will all lose a great manager and a fantastic role model.
A quote by Theodore Roosevelt describes my favorite boss, Jess Foster, perfectly: "The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."
Betty Kuhn lives in Boardman. She is available via e-mail at email@example.com.