Quote of the Day, September 13, 2013: “If you’re the boss only ask others to do things that you either don’t have time to do, or don’t know how to do. Never ask anyone to do anything that you’d be unwilling to do yourself.”

So this one seems almost self-explanatory but I suppose I owe it a little context. I was having lunch with a friend of mine who is a middle manager of a mid-sized company, much like my position, and we were going back and forth about the challenges of being in the middle where you now have employees under you that report to you on various matters, and yet you still report to several of your own bosses.

I thought what he said was quite simple, quite brilliant, and too often overlooked by many of the bosses I’ve had in the past. What was even more interesting was why he thought he remembered it when some of his colleagues did not.

He said that he notices that most kids and young adults, whether in retail or fast food, start at the bottom. They are the buss boy, the hostess, or the mop guy. At the bottom of the food chain they end up doing their job, and the jobs of whoever else above them doesn’t feel like doing theirs that day. Sometimes the tasks are more than inconvenient but they are even disgusting or dangerous. They do them because they have to but they learn two things: Not to respect the manager above them who made them do the dangerous thing that they know they weren’t going to be willing to do themselves, and to not really respect the position that they themselves are holding.

The problem with the first is that they will start to do their work begrudgingly which will hamper their performance. And they will not respond to instruction and correction by the manager in the way that’s needed for the business to run smoothly. The problem with the second is that one day they will hopefully move up, but then they will think it’s their turn to dump the dangerous, disgusting, or inconvenient on people that are below them.

Leading by example seems to be the best way still. You don’t have to know everything or how to do every task. That’s why you have specialized people beneath you. But you do have to understand what you’re asking others to do enough to realize the nature of what you’re asking them to do, and therefore would you be willing to jump in their and get your hands dirty with this project if it was needed, or your role? Or would you be too good for it. If you need someone to dig through the trash for you, you better have a good enough relationship with your employees that they know, if you had the time and weren’t off doing something else that’s within your role to make the company better that you’d be right in their with them. Or if you need them to put something together, that they know that you don’t know how to put it together yourself and are relying on their expertise to finish that particular task, instead of you not putting it together, even though it’s within your role in the company and you have time, simply because you’re too lazy to do so……….Continued on Quote of the Day, September 15, 2013


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