The One Most Important Thing

I had been hammering Kristen about creating a role description for an open position on her team. I don’t think she is lazy, but like most managers, she treats recruiting like a part-time job. In a year’s time, she may only have four openings on her team of 19, and she rarely sits on a hiring panel for other teams.

“What’s the one most important thing you do?” I asked. “In a year’s time, looking back, what one thing have you done that has had the most impact on your company?”

Kristen was thinking. She had some stuff up on her walls, some recognition plaques, a framed letter from a customer. “I don’t know,” she started. “My highest contribution? I guess it’s just making sure my people are always busy and not wasting time. That’s what managers do.”

“No, on your team of 19, you have two supervisors, that’s what they do, keep people busy. What is the most important thing you do?”

“I guess I never really thought about it. No one ever asked me, or told me. In fact, when I got promoted last year, the only difference is that I go to management meetings once a week. I spend the rest of my time dealing with problems and issues. Who wants time off? Who is arguing with whom? Why someone is constantly running behind? Why things don’t come out right? Motivating my team? I stay pretty busy doing all that.”

“What would you have to do differently, so that you did none of those things?” I challenged.

“Well, there’s no way. The people I have on my team just wouldn’t be able to get along and stay productive without me in there.”

“So, what would you have to do differently?”

3 thoughts on “The One Most Important Thing

  1. Clark Potter

    Tom, i just read the story above and it does cause some thinking and wondering how much many of us are doing this all wrong. I am the owner of a business but have been in some form of leadership or management for over 15 years and I don’t ever remember a real comprehensive approach to hiring or even with the detail you offer. I am reading your new book right now and hopefully can glean much of what needs to happen in our own company. I wanted to ask you about how long you see this taking to really create a different and better culture within an organization that perhaps never used any of these tools? It almost seems a little overwhelming to be honest with you. We are going from doing none of this to doing what we should be. I may be in touch with you often for some guidance.


    Clark Potter

  2. Pingback: Quick-list on Levels of Work | Management Skills Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.