In keeping with the spirit of the day. Twice in my job history I was put in a position of assuming responsibility and authority over employees that I didn’t know but secondly with the previous manager still in place. To say the least it was awkward in both scenarios.
Desert Lawn Memorial Park
The first was back in Arizona, day one I showed up, the crew had no idea. The only people that were aware was the incumbent supervisor Frank and the GM. Frank was about 10 years my senior. We showed mutual respect for each other but immediately there was a misunderstanding. It turns out that we had been told two different stories from the GM about who would be the Supervisor. So there we sat waiting for the GM to come in. Shortly thereafter sitting in the GMs office, the GM grew a pair and gave us clear guidance. I was to be in charge. I had nothing against the Frank, actually I felt for him that he was put into this position. Just before we left the office, I paid tribute to Franks experience and that I could not succeed without his wealth of his knowledge. Within a year the GM was indicted and fired for embezzling. Over the next 3 years Frank and I worked together and had that memorial park looking sharp. I felt we had a mutual respect and I hope he felt the same way. A defining moment came when it was time for annual reviews and upper management once again wanted to pass over Frank for a raise. I told them they needed to shit or get off the pot with him as he had never compromised him work ethic since I had joined the company. This made me respect him even more. (Btw he got an increase)
I worked for Gilkey Window many years ago which from the outside I was only given the position since I was good friend with one of the owners, my fellow Marine brother Steve Gilkey(May he rest in peace). No doubt the opportunity would not have existed without knowing Steve (which I am forever thankful to). Along with my association with Steve came the challenge of standing on my on merit. Having the authority meant nothing without support. There weren’t incumbent managers per se but rather a few senior employees that knew the process while others followed along. This scenario had its own challenges. Unlike Frank, I didn’t have many allies and I was dependent on the senior employees tribal knowledge in order to run production. Many late afternoons I found myself alone sealing up the days production as the crew headed home. (A form of hazing). Blatantly being ignored (reading a newspaper)during meetings and the appearance of Raymond hate notes were a daily occurrence. Whether it was my stubborn nature or , perhaps enough time passed where I was seen as having “paid my dues”…..Things began to get better. (Cross training, incentives and bonus’) I like to think that with Steve’s support, what was an US(line worker) and THEM(upper management) became WE. To this day, I cherish and appreciate all the efforts of my glass line crew. I wouldn’t have had the job opportunity I have today without them.
In both of these scenarios, important lessons learned that yes with authority comes responsibility, but more importantly, without the support of others, having the power of authority is meaningless.
I know it is a big task but I pray that our incoming administration will not seek approval of those across the aisle but rather seek to earn the support by listening to those across the aisle. Peace.