Everybody needs encouragement to grow and succeed .
At our earliest age, we are get that from our family and friends. They help
us to walk, talk, and try to do other new things by offering positive words
and enthusiasm. We are helped along the way and because of this
we learn and advance.
Then, at some point in our lives that stops.
The loss of enthusiastic encouragementIt happens at different times forto
different people. Regardless of when it happens, we feel it. The loss
seems to manifest and take hold when we enter the workplace. Too often
the attitude seems to be:,
“Just do your job and let me worry about improvements”.
“If I need your opinion I’ll ask for it”.
This lack of encouragement to think, offer thoughts and make improvements beats us down.
I had one of those experiences myself. In my first job out of college, I had a manager who didn’t encourage ideas and activities to make things better. He wanted to control the show and dictate what and how things were done. He did not provide encouagement to grow and succeed.
I worked in a group with veteran employees. There were also many young (including myself), energetic individuals. We all wanted to try new ideas. We were we discouraged from doing so. This is not what successful companies practicing Agility do with their employees.
At some point I found out that we were prevented from talking to other groups about work possibilities and advancements with them. They saw my and others potentials and wanted to use them. But our manager cut off any contact and kept us contained in his little fiefdom.
He could control that within the company. But, he couldn’t prevent us from leaving and going elsewhere.
Many of us did. I wasn’t the first. A coworker by the name of Steve was. He got an offer from Booz, Allen and Hamilton, a very prestigious consulting firm and off he went. That got me thinking and after I time I started looking as well. When the time came I made my move.
My manager’s boss tried to talk me out of it. I had been doing a great job despite the roadblocks and he told me how much he appreciated me and my efforts. Unfortunately, he waited till I had one foot out the door to tell me so. I liked him. We had a long conversation about my future and he almost convinced me to stay. He was promoted encouragement to grow and succeed.
When I went home that night and told my wife, she almost killed me. She reminded me about how I was being held down. Because of this corporate culture things would go back to where they had been. She was right and so I went in the next day and re-resigned, if there is such a thing.
I had a lot of work on my plate at that time. Despite this, the head manager wanted to leave the next week. I had also made many friends. The feeling was that if I lingered it might cause some problems and disgruntlement with them. If I am anything, it is not a person who leaves loose ends. So I convinced them to let me finish out my work or at least leave it in good shape for whomever picked it up.
I started my new position as an Industrial Engineer, with Binney and Smith ( now Crayola Corporation) on January 2, 1979.
The group had added the position and there were four of us, including our manager, Dan.
I fit right in with the other members, Jim and Tom, both my seniors. Tom and I became fast friends and remain good friends to this day.
A lot happened in a short space of time. There was a change of management within the company. With the changes, the Chief Engineer, Bill Clymer reached out to me. He offered me a position doing special projects for his group. They handled the
- Facility planning
- Facility expansion
- Design and procurement of production equipment
for all the domestic production facilities. It was an exciting opportunity and a promotion so I accepted it.
It was a veteran group of people. Everyone had at least 20 years of experience and were at least twice my age. They had done incredible things to move the company along. This included the design, building and installation of rotary crayon molding machines. The advent of these chased almost every other U.S. manufacturer out of the business. So we had a virtual monopoly on the U.S. crayon market.
I was the new, young, inexperienced kid. I was assigned to do planning for further manufacturing improvements. In that regard, they were looking for new ideas. This was not only about crayon manufacture. It also vovered the vast array of other products we made and sold. These included as markers, children’s paints, chalk, clay, and kit items.
I had lots of ideas. I would regularly meet with Bill. I would let him know what I was working on and what I was thinking about and wanted to work on. Each meeting he demonstrated encouragement to grow and succeed.
Bill was a very important person in the company. His time was always in demand. Many of the Directors, Vice Presidents, President and Board members were meeting with him daily.
With all that he had going on, he always put aside time for me, his new, lowly, inexperienced engineer. And he never rushed me away. At times he would defer or even postpone another meeting to give me the time I asked for. Only if he couldn’t put something off, would he not meet with me. But, he made sure to schedule a time shortly thereafter, so I never had to wait long to meet with him.
Bill always listened to what I had to say. He never interrupted me. He stopped me only to clarify what I was saying so he had a clear idea of the thought I was trying to get across. Only when I finished, or ran out of breath, would he then give me his thoughts and opinions. Bt doing this he was giving me encouragement to grow and succeed.
If I had a good idea, he told me so. He might add some thoughts on how I could expand it or things to think about that could make it better. Some ideas weren’t so great or were things that were tried before. In those cases, Bill would say, “We tried that once before and weren’t very successful at it. But, time has passed and maybe it’s time to take another look”. Never did he tell me that what I was proposing was stupid or was a waste of his time and mine discussing it.
He was always encouraging me to find out for myself if the idea had legs. If not, he allowed me to find out for myself. In that way it was a learning experience. Not only did I shelve it from further thought, but it made me think about future ideas. I then gave them more consideration before taking up his time presenting them.
In some instances, the old idea with a new perspective had some possibilities. In those cases Bill thanked me for bringing it up and adding new life to it. It then became something I and others worked on. We had complete encouragement to grow and succeed.
In all instances, Bill encouraged me to do things and take chances. He did not condemn me for making a mistake, as long as I cleaned up any problems that I created. He always said that to make mistakes was a natural thing and that, “That is why they put erasers on pencils”. At that time we still used pencils. When people found out where I worked, they would ask if we wrote with crayons. Sometimes we did if nothing else was available.
I hold Bill as one of if not the best boss I ever had. I rarely if ever saw him get mad. If he did, he controlled it better than anyone else I knew or worked for. And if he had a problem with me or someone else, it was handled in private, behind closed doors. Once the issue was discussed, the door opened. Bill publicly thanked the person who he had just chewed out for their time and input. The situation was resolved and the matter handled. No one else needed was involved or knew what was said.
Bill was also concerned about the wellbeing of his charges, including me. One day he called me into his office. He started by apologizing, which took me aback, because I didn’t know that he had anything to apologize for. He had gotten my personnel records. When he looked at my salary and what I was given to join the company, he felt that I had been severely under-offered. He felt that my pay was not commensurate with what I deserved.
He gave me an immediate raise and an apology, even though he had not been a part of that previous decision.
I do not know if you have ever had a boss like Bill. If so, you are one lucky individual. Good ones deinitely provide encouragement to grow and succeed. It is a shame that more bosses aren’t like Bill. He got the best out of me and the others who worked with and for him. He encouraged me and his other charges to progress. He allowed us to do things others would stop or never start (Like the boss I left at my previous company).
I learned so much from Bill. He was very smart, but never thought or acted as though he was smarter than everyone else. In my opinion, he was. He encouraged new thoughts and ideas. This included even the recycling of old ones that had been tried unsuccessfully before. He was gracious and calm even under pressure. He never lost his cool, at least not when others were around.
I tried to emulate Bill and his managerial style.
I will admit, I have not always been successful. There are times I have blown my top at people. I have a face that gives away my disagreement and displeasure at people who intentionally do bad or stupid things. And sometimes I interrupt when I have something to add and don’t wait until the other person is finished. I feel that the conversation isn’t going to get any better and it is time to stop it at that point and move on.
I have always tried to provide encouragement to grow and succeed to those who work with and for me. I look for the best in people and that they are trying to do the right thing. If I disagree with them, I try to do it in private. The only time I violate that is when someone intentionally tries to disparage or embarrass me. Then I will strike back. Fortunately that hasn’t happened often. I guess people know their limits with me and if not, they find out very quickly, how far they can go.
I have too often seen the opposite of Bill. Two examples of this come to mind.
In the first, I was a loaned executive. I represented my company with people from other companies for the local United Way campaign. One of my fellow executives was a young man. He represented a company that made cement manufacturing equipment. He was very proud of his company and talked about them daily and how thrilled he was to work for them.
Throughout the campaign we visited each other’s companies for meetings. We also got to know about the other firms. We had the opportunity to visit his company and he was beaming about being our host. As we stood in the conference room, the president of the company, an ex GE executive came into the room. For no apparent reason he came right up to our group and began berating and belittling my colleague. Talk about letting the air out of the balloon. And certainly not providing encouragement to grow and succeed.
I have no idea why the president did that. It was inappropriate and petty. From that day forward the young man never talked about his company to any of us. And within a short time after the United Way campaign ended and he went back to work, he left the company.
To this day, I never forgot that moment and what that executive did to his employee. I never forgave him and purposely avoided him at any encounter I attended with him. I have told this story to others and they just shake their head. Definitely no Bill Clymer.
The second example deals with a company owner I was working with. He wanted to have company teams work on various problems. They were to make improvements in the organization. He had a young person who was to head up the teams, starting with the project I was to work with. My role was to facilitate the work and mentor the young man.
He and I worked well together. He was inexperienced, but wanted to learn and was very eager to do so. He explained the company limitations we were under and that we had to deal with the owner’s ego. The owner said he wanted the team to make decisions and be responsible for the outcome. But, he was involved behind the scenes interfering with our work and directing the team’s actions.
We had regular reviews and meetings throughout the project. Things were lagging, but progress was being made. Finally a big meeting was set. The owner, the project manager and I discussed changes we recommended in order to better store and move materials. Every piece of information that the project manager shared in that meeting was countermanded by the owner. He said that everything we did and concluded was wrong and was essentially garbage.
At that point, all our efforts went down the drain.
As in the previous example, the air went out of the balloon. The project was put on hold, never to start again. Within a few months the project manager found another job and left the company. Are you surprised? I wasn’t.
Based on these examples, what type of manager are you?
Are you the deflating, tyrannical type or the nurturing and encouraging one? Who would you want to work for?
I know who I would and his name is Bill. And who would you want to pattern yourself after?
Again my answer is Bill.
It is a shame that of the cases I described, the majority were poor, non-encouraging people. It was their way or the highway. And in each case young, enthusiastic people left because of that attitude.
The more Bill’s we can develop to run departments and companies, the better for ourselves and our businesses.
This transcends business to life in general. We need more Bills in this world. And not just in our early years, but throughout our careers and lives. They are out there, but they are a minority. We just need to find them, promote them and emulate them.