In my corporate career I had 11 different management positions, domestic and international, with 2 global corporations. And so 11 different bosses. And, since I worked in Human Resources, I had an additional 11 different matrixed bosses.
Some of those positions covered as many as 13 countries, 19 manufacturing plants and 13,000 employees, some the entire globe, and one, a world region. So with little imagination one could appreciate the sophistication, complexity, and business savvy of some of my bosses.
This is not about me, but about some of the stuff I learned from them.
From boss #1, I learned about using humor to lessen conflict, the importance of accuracy in writing, labor relations skills, and honesty in negotiations, and compensation processes and systems. And, supporting the community. Scope: individual contributor.
From the next, the importance of influence, and maintaining morale in a 500 person manufacturing facility and how to keep an even keel in tumultuous situations. Scope: single plant.
Boss # 3. Striking a balance between work and family. And, you don’t always win those corporate arguments. And the importance of celebrating employee successes at work. And maintaining a professional presence in the face of diversity. And masterful instruction in understanding business finances and statements. Scope: single plant
Next, how a peer manager who becomes your boss, who for reasons not mentioned here, changes from an adversary to a partner. It is all about teamwork and often the team is what it is and you leverage the strengths and put up with the shortcomings. And how decisions have to be made in the best interest of the corporation and the stockholders, with the outcome sometimes being negative for local employees and their communities. And, how to manage through that with compassion and empathy. Scope: single plant.
Boss # 5: Managing multiple locations, avoiding the label “I’m from headquarters and I’m here to help”, removing people who are entrenched in the organization and who don’t do their jobs. How to run a complex multi-location project. Working through the intricacies and frustrations of the corporate political animal. Importance of helping people manage their careers, sponsoring them, and moving them when they are ready. Scope: seven locations.
Next, working under a boss who has lost control of an organization, is a poor manager and leader, and leveraging internal resources and the greater corporation to get things done. How to restructure a business, manage product line relocations, and associated, highly complex communications planning and implementation. a Scope: single plant.
Number 7: Working in an environment with a verbally abusive boss for 2 years; sticking it out for another 5 years and winning the “war”. You can change almost anything you put your mind to and be free to be creative on your job. How important and appreciated employee recognition can be. And creating and deploying talent management as a critically important tool and process. And another masterful instructor on understanding business finances and statements, and international business management. Managing from strategy to implementation to metrics in a complex, matrix work environment. Scope: 13 plants, 3 countries.
Boss 8: How to keep your cool in any situation, lessons on managing through the political landscape. Scope: multiple plants, 13 countries.
Next. Another master in business financial management and multi-location, multi-country, international business management to include acquisitions and divestitures. Scope: multiple plants, 13 countries.
Boss 10: The value of giving people enough space to do their jobs. Managing careers. Scope: 4 world regions, global.
Boss 11: Working through the ever present, frustrating micro manager. Boss 12 replaced boss 11. A skilled, masterful leader who gave you freedom and space to do their job. Scope: world region.
All: Most subscribed to and lived by corporate values and ethics across the two corporations. For most there was only one result when behavior dictated otherwise… zero tolerance.
***** S&E *****