This is necessarily a short blog post. First, it is past my bedtime. Second, it has been a long month and a half of very large amounts of work and problem-solving and we are very near the end, which leads me to desire nothing less than a rest. Third, if I stay up too late, I will drink more wine, eat things that are not good for me and feel ill in the morning.
Tonight I spent a little bit of time reading some posts on Facebook. Some of the posters, okay most, are just there for laughs or are sharing the meal portion of their lives (why do people on Facebook always want to show us what they are eating tonight?). Some are my children who share children pictures.
Occasionally, I read a thought-provoking comment that causes me to wander into the philosophical or political arena. Tonight, Mike Rowe posted a good commentary regarding a response he made to a Bernie Sanders ‘Tweet’.
Okay, an aside. Mike is absolutely right. Any political, moral, opinion-based or supposed factual statement that is made in one hundred forty characters or less is not subject to anything less than straight interpretation. If an ambitious politician and his or her staff want to use something like Twitter to further their campaign, the phrase ‘What I meant was…’ doesn’t count at all.
Bernie’s tweet: “At the end of the day, providing a path to go to college is a helluva lot cheaper than putting people on a path to jail.”
I’m going to refrain from making a comment on ol’ Bern’s twit. Or Tweet. Whatever.
Mike Rowe responded. He used Facebook because his response required more characters than Twitter would allow. He was lambasted for it, apparently by Bern-folks. They felt the need to do the ‘What I meant was…’ thing on the presidential hopeful’s behalf.
My own personal thought was this.
After considering higher education and college degrees, neither of which are possessed by most of those who work with me (I have a tough time calling them my employees), it occurred to me that one thing, above all else, is important.
If you encourage thought by providing an environment where all thought is rewarded, people will think. They will, in fact, prove ingenious. They will develop their own systems, their own methods for control of quality and their own standards. They will improve. They will better themselves. They will become involved. It is a fact as truly as is the statement that “you know it’s cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold.”
I am proud and happy to work in an environment where people think. My primary job is to encourage them. I don’t consider myself a manager as much as a coach whose primary responsibility is to see that decisions are made, that people learn from those decisions and that they contribute to the growth of their company.
This year we did well. Sales grew. People grew. Those who showed initiative were rewarded. Some made detrimental decisions and those choices were pointed out. They were never derided, though. They were always encouraged to try again. And they made me very proud.
It is a tough thing to hold back from telling people what to do. It is even harder to ask for advice, to voice a thought without telling someone how he or she should respond, especially as a manager or a leader. There are some amazing rewards, though. A smile or a conversation with a thoughtful employee is probably one of the biggest.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Spend some thoughtful time.