A Life Lesson

Before I leave this phase of my life, I must share with you a Wake-Up Call that I received from one of my managers that I will never forget.  In 2005, there was another one of those calls to the manager’s office.  In the pit of my stomach, I knew things were not going to be good.  He had my first and only formal letter of concern waiting for me on his desk.  Before he gave me the letter, he started to outline for me, one by one, situations and circumstances that he had observed, all of which were opportunities in my character as a leader, and I quote “Leadership starts with setting appropriate standards and expectations for their people and role modeling those behaviors they expect.”  My behavior had been “inconsistent with true leadership” and had negatively impacted the performance of my team.  Unfortunately, I had been deeply engrossed in purchasing a new home (which had been a total nightmare to say the least), but that was totally irrelevant at that moment.



Chaos at work and Chaos at home, TOTALLY out of control.  But that conversation with my manager, made me sit down and re-center my life.  This wasn’t about performance objectives, it was ALL ABOUT ME!  … And I couldn’t deny anything he had said.  As you may remember from an earlier post, I really don’t like to ERR….OR and I may not have mentioned it, but constructive criticism is difficult for me to swallow.  This Large Pill went down, but it went down HARD.   But I re-grouped quickly!

“Your positive attitude and open-mindedness you displayed in our meeting was very encouraging”…. 

As I state the obvious, you must maintain a Balance of Home and Work.  Although one may require more focus than the other, you cannot lose sight of either. 


Get Builder for new house, since the first one quit.

Be prepared not to leave the recognition event until you have presented awards to your team!

Get Builder for new house, since the first one quit.

Schedule Field Time with employees at least three (3) times a week

Get Builder for new house, since the first one quit.

Well, you get the picture!


The Plan to Order My Chaos

If you read my last post, you know that I had a LOT going on, at ALL Levels of my life.  I often tell people today that you can’t operate with CHAOS at home and at work.  You have to have some semblance of ORDER somewhere.   So I focused my energy on my new job.  The first 9 months were REALLY tough.  At times, I felt like I was in a foreign land and simply didn’t understand the language.

I set back and observed for 9 months, which was about 6 months too long.  The team was telling me that they didn’t need me.  “The team is doing just fine…we know what we are doing! “  They were very tenured (average 20-years) employees and had been doing this job for many years.  But they had no motivation to achieve the performance objectives.   “WE DON’T BELIEVE IN THE NUMBERS!  We don’t understand why the company expects us to make these numbers anyway!”  We had unhappy customers and we weren’t very happy either.  I am not boasting, but I knew that I was a good manager, I had proven my ability.  So why had I stalled?  Why am I just sitting back watching and waiting?      I DON’T KNOW????????????


Many times, new managers come into the position and want to change just for the sake of change… “Creating MORE Chaos!”   But even though we may have a plan, it is strongly suggested that we understand how the operation functions and know the objectives & goals.  Why try to fix something that Ain’t Broken?

But I had seen enough, so WHY HAD I STALLED?

Then it was a Monday in September and something SNAPPED! … NO, I didn’t hurt anyone, but I realized that I had to operate in the confidence of what I knew I could do.  I had to formally develop and implement my plan, even though I knew that there would be MUCH resistance.  Yes, I am a Woman and I have Never been a service technician, but I know how to manage people.  I am an Organizer, I Plan, I Strategize,  and I thrive on meeting the Challenge, to Go from the BEFORE picture to the AFTER photo.  There were expectations that first I had of myself and there were expectations that others had of me!

So what had I really done for the first 9 months?  Wait!  You mean that there was some Order… there was a method to my madness… there was a Process?  The Order of My Steps were as follows:

  1. OBSERVE – Gather information and LISTEN!
  2. Conduct one on ones with the people and get to know the person
  3. Solicit employee input – LISTEN!
  4. Review the performance of the individuals and of the overall team
  5. Establish individual expectations to hold them accountable
  6. Made notes to be used for a 90-day action plan for the team


By Monday night, things were clicking.  My gifts of organization and administration was ever-present and fully engaged.  A plan of action for the next 90-days had been developed and a strategy to achieve the expected results was in the making.    “We Will Succeed” had become my mantra!   My plan would constantly evolve because times were ever-changing.

CHAOS would be ever-present, BUT so would ORDER!

The Turning Point

1995 is a year that I will not forget.   Three (3) major changes happened in my life, one I can’t even mention (but it involved my 16-yr old son, so you could just imagine), my mother in law moved in with us (which is a story in itself)..And I was promoted to a field manager of service technicians, 27 men  & one woman. 

In this new position, the deck was stacked against me from the start.  First, I must mention that the assignment took me to a city where the people were very nice, but they didn’t take very quickly to an OUTSIDER and if that wasn’t bad enough, I was a woman and I had never been a service technician…. NOT Good!  I don’t know if you have noticed, but men think a little differently than women, so they had already decided that I didn’t have a clue of what I was doing.  

But what I did know was that I had to have a PLAN!

By the way, there are a few other factors that you must consider:

  • My mentor and the manager who promoted me was transferred to another city as soon as I got there
  • My new manager NEVER smiled and he got VERY upset when you told him so
  • My peers would have preferred for me to have been transferred to another city and have their manager and friend be here instead (at this point, I kinda felt that way too)

Now add to that, my new employees who were waiting to see me fall on my face and would help me if they could. 

That year, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, Go figure!.. 

Can anyone out there relate?