I’ve been thinking a lot about something — something that’s had me troubled since I took the new job 6 months ago. Sure, I knew how the department worked, I’d been a key part of it for years. I had a list of what needed tweaking and where changes could be made.
But an area I was least familiar with turned out to be the most important of all.
You see, because the other employees were my colleagues all those years, I really didn’t know what it was like for them. Now that I was their boss, it was my job to find out.
Located all around the state, none of us share an office and we rarely see each other. And even though my management style and the previous boss’s are vastly different, I didn’t want to make changes too quickly.
So I started out slowly. Visiting the team, spending time with them on their turf. Listening. Bringing forward their ideas, offering encouragement. Bridging the gap between trusted colleague and trusted adviser.
I found myself thinking most about an employee who should have been promoted long ago.
He was doing Manager level work, and had been for years. He wasn’t being paid Manager-level wages. Oh no, that had never happened, despite the promises made by another.
He didn’t have the right title, although he had all the responsibilities that go with it. Not having the right title meant he often was left off emails sent by other departments. Not having that information left him at a deficit and unable to perform to the best of his ability.
This wasn’t right.
How to fix it?
I talked with H.R. and my supervisor and slowly but surely, made it clear that his move up was priority #1. I kept that move on the forefront of conversations; just enough to have it remembered, not enough to be annoying.
Because here was someone working hard and not getting ahead for it.
Isn’t that why we go to work?
For the reward? The money? The status?
The more I dug into it, the madder I became.
At the years of indifference.
Years of neglect.
The years of hard work for another’s benefit.
No, not this time.
It was not for nothing. It was going to be for something.
I am delighted to report he got the promotion he deserved and some more money, too. He’s a proud man, and his quiet but dignified “Thank you, thank you so very much” was beyond meaningful to me. We laughed about his email in-box “blowing up” with congratulatory notes, and I took great joy in hearing the joy in him.
Thinking about it further, I came to see that this is why I am in the job.
Not just because I understand the policies and can navigate the systems. Not just because of my experience and good reputation.
No, that’s not it.
I am here to grow the people.
And in there is growth for me as well.
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
― Woodrow Wilson
Have you ever been in a similar position? Were you able to fix it?