Almost a year ago I shared the following story on one of my social networks. I’m sharing it here because lately I’ve listened to and been involved in a number of conversations with friends who are having a rough patch as managers. I’m sharing this to remind them that these are bumps in the management road and they do pass – even though right now it seems like everything is moving slow and the discomfort is amplified a bajillion percent – it really does get better. Trust me. I know. So, here’s a Hip Check from the Universe (and from me, chin up, friends!)
I had to go to Lowe’s Foods this morning to pick up a cake. I get there at 6:45 as it opens at 6. I am greeted by three store employees who are waiting outside and tell me that they cannot get into the store because the person who has the key is MIA and they have called everyone they can and are waiting. It is a beautiful morning, I’m not in a huge rush, so I tell the frantic gal that it’s cool, I’ll chill out here sitting on the patio furniture. So I’m sitting there watching what is happening. It didn’t really occur to me how fucked this situation could be until I saw the Boar’s Head truck show up. Then it occurred to me that there will probably be several other deliveries that are scheduled to happen, the bakery needs to bake, all the prepared food needs to be cooked, prices need to be changed, etc. etc. A lot happens in the early morning at the grocery store. But, I happily sat and was very pleasant about it because I could totally see one of my staff doing this and me not finding out till 5 hours later.
So as I am sitting there I am chatting with the employees and listening to their conversations. What I observe: the one frantic worker bee employee who can’t sit still and even though she is locked out is still working as she is arranging and cleaning up all the plants for sale outside; the bakery gal who is very quiet and demure who is not going to do anything until she is told what to do because she doesn’t wanna make the wrong decision; the Eeyore of the group who has been complaining the ENTIRE time I’ve been sitting there; the completely laid back kid who came running over after his paid breakfast hour who really could care less and is just chilling. I’m watching all of this and then the light bulb turns on.
Sitting in front of me are four of the major employee (and probably personality) archetypes: Worker Bee, I Do What I’m Told, Eeyore and Laid Back Jack. And I could match up my own employees to these folks. And then I started giggling in the car as I rode to work, (not the maniacal giggling of a nervous breakdown) because I felt good. I felt great. Why? Because EVERY WORKPLACE HAS THIS. After three weeks of feeling like the world has been punishing me, the universe finally knocked me over the head with, “It’s not just you, silly!” And now I feel great. The end.