I once knew a young marketing assistant; she must have been about 22 at the time. She’d never been to university and she hadn’t studied marketing either. She was hired to fill envelopes for mailings, prepare meeting rooms, answer the phone when the receptionist was away and generally help out with the basic administration tasks of a small but busy marketing department.

Now Sue had a young boss, he was only a couple of years older than her. He was a kind young man, very self assured and fun, and always pleased to see her. She liked him. However, the rest of the marketing department treated her like a worthless servant. When her young boss was not around everyone tried to dump all their crap jobs on her. But Sue was stubborn, she was nobody’s fool. She had a friendly smile alright but if she didn’t like someone, she simply ignored their requests.

Her favorite pastime while her boss was away (which was often), was to burst bubble-wrap bubbles between her fingers and thumb and talk to her boyfriend on the phone.  Because she worked in an open plan office, her idleness really annoyed her colleagues especially as they liked to show that they were busy.

After a couple of years her young boss left the company and the department head thought it an ideal time to get rid of her.  So he told the sales director “Monday, morning she’ll be gone”.  Now the sales director had always liked Susan, especially the way she smiled at him every-time he passed by. So he asked the marketing director “please let me speak with her first, and if, after that, she wants to work for me then can I have her in my department?” “sure”, said the Marketing Director, be my guest!

So the Sales Director went to speak with Sue, “Hi Susan how are you today?” Very well thank you Mr. Gardner” she said. “Please, call me George” he said, “Everyone else does!”

18 months later Sue was the UK Sales Office Manager responsible for supplying the back office needs for five sales representatives. She had twelve people reporting to her and took on the total responsibility for the sales department’s administration and transactions. She was happy and having fun. So what did the sales manager do?

•    He saw the person, not the CV
•    He believed in her because she believed in him
•    He delegated responsibility to her and never expected it back
•    He gave her training and support but only when she needed it
•    He gave her space to develop and useful things to do
•    He never assumed that she had reached her limit

Have a nice week,

Harley