After many years in both union and supervisory and management positions, I learned one, primary, lesson, and that is we all crave respect.

From the janitor to the chancellor to the president…all of our work has value.


I was asked, recently, if I thought that I had the answers to a dysfunctional department.  I responded that I did have the answers and that I was confident of the basic precepts that should be implemented to enliven hope…where there is despair.

First, all staff must be treated fairly.  For instance, if temporary promotional upgrades are distributed…they should be distributed, only, on the basis of demonstrated ability.  If you have never given a candidate a chance to demonstrate their ability…how do you know how to evaluate them?

Second, a, valued member of the staff, must must be consulted as to the needs of their shop and the challenges that they are facing in implementing the unfunded mandate that management has given them to fulfill.

I have been saying, for over thirty years, that issues, both large and small, including the critical issue of the recruitment and retention of students, at SIUC, by and large, can be alleviated by administration consulting with the civil service staff of the campus.

For instance, the Building Services organization is broken into many crews that are headed by a crew leader and who have on that crew both Building Service Workers and student custodial staff.

If you want to know and understand what works in the buildings that a housekeeping crew is assigned…ask them?

Third, an unequal treatment by management, of staff…can be seen a hundred miles away.  When two employees are both working hard and dedicated to the cause of the organization…and one has great voice and influence while the other has none…you have problem of unfairness.

Fourth, is the all to human, mistake of favoring those who seem to like the boss.

When I was working and my foreman would bring me stories regarding the criticisms that members of their crews had leveled against me…I asked them to not disclose any negative comments that were heard about me…unless they were attempting to get me fired or murdered.

I took great pride in promoting people who I knew were critical of me.  Often, I received the criticisms as constructive and I endeavored to change.

When you have favorites…you can not hide it!

One of my foreman told me, many years ago, that she could not tell who was my friend and who was my enemy…by the manner that I treated them…and that it appeared to her…that I treated my enemies a little better.

Fifth, resources from administration is not only important…it is imperative!

Once administration has decided what level of service that they can afford to deliver to the campus…they must be dedicated to providing the appropriate resources to accomplish their goal.

Support and backing and ‘being there for a department’ equates to two things.  The first is financial resources.  If an administrator supports a department they will provide the money to ensure that the department does not disintegrate into chaos.  Also, an administrator will spend the time that is necessary to learn what is going on in the, troubled, department and will hear the opinion of the majority of the participants.

‘The best management takes place where the work is being done.’

If a department is to be effectively run…the manger of that department should be a frequent visitor to the various job sites.

Many years ago, there was a saying that was posted in the Old Fire House…which was the offices of Building Services…that said…’We must inspect…what we expect.’

If your management philosophy is developed and implemented…behind your desk…you will be a failure!

Sixth, communicate….communicate….and….communicate!

marketing man person communication

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If you do not communicate a clear and consistent vision of what you want the department that you have been selected to lead…no one will identify with you…or connect to your plan.

Seventh, learn and believe and know….from you heart…that it is an honor to be asked to lead a department…and if you are humble…you will learn much more than you will ever impart….to your dedicated and professional colleagues.

Your staffs; faith, personal views and life, politics, and all other matters that are not directly job related…are none of the managers business.

A managers bias and prejudice and judgements that are based on paranoia or lack of self confidence…must be left at home!

A manager must understand that some of their colleagues are not going to like them…that is human.

A manager must understand that some of their colleagues are going to criticize them…that is human.

A manager must understand that not only do they not have all of the answers…but that they have staff who are smarter than they are and who have abilities that they do not posses…learn from your staff!

A leader inspires confidence by being a member of the team.







4 responses

  1. You have shared great basic tenets of HR. It is so true. Respect (* And I salute the late Aretha Franklin for belting out this great song) begets respect and with it comes trust and team work. You did a great job with your team BJ as taking care of janitorial services or campus grounds is never easy. You have done well and it is a shame you retired so early as you have lots to share as a consultant perhaps. Happy weekend. Stay safe from the storm if you are living near Florence. Blessings and may Americans be safe in this coming storm.

    1. Thank you, my friend.

      We are, well, inland from Florence, but many will be affected!

  2. Respect is the cornerstone of the any (especially professional) relationship. This is too easily and often forgotten!

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