February 25, 2010 | Leave a Comment

I’m barely recovered from this morning’s meeting.  Yes, that’s why I’m shaking.  But just keep in mind, it all turns out okay in the end.  For me, I mean.

It all started a few weeks ago when Jan decided she was pretty much fed up doing her job and wanted us to hire an office manager to do all her dirty work (and by that I mean pretty much all the confrontational stuff like telling people their desks are too messy or they left a gooey mess in the microwave).  I told Ralph to move some money around and scrape us together a small salary to hire an office manager.

Well of course the entire office somehow got wind of it and I … may have made statements to a number of people that might somehow give them the impression that I perhaps would be looking to put that manager under their direct supervision.  I’m not sure how all this happened, and there’s a lot of this he-said/she-said stuff going on (though honestly it’s sounding like mostly “Tom-said/Tom-said” unfortunately).

Well next thing I know half the office is waiting outside my office when I got in this morning, and as one of her last official acts before leaving, Ginger inconveniently cancelled all my fake morning meetings that I normally use to pretend I’m too busy to interact with the office staff.

It seems they all compared notes and figured out I’d apparently promised the office manager position to their departments.  My first solution was to just hire one for each of them, but Ralph buzz-killed that one and said that it was not just impossible, it was “completely-freakin’-mission-impossible man”.  My next solution, which was to hire one office manager and have him report to each department one day a week, got shot down too.  I don’t want to tell you what they said about that.

I thought about having a 6-way cage match between my direct reports to settle who would get the new headcount, but ultimately I had to abandon that when I heard Kevin suggest that I just have the new position report to me directly, so that he wouldn’t be influenced by favoritism to any particular department.

“That’s stupid, Kevin,” Phil said.  “But I’ll say this — everyone knows this guy should report to me.  And I’ll give him up, but only if he reports to Tom directly, so that none of the rest of you Sallys try to make him your lapdog.”

I think that’s when Kevin left the room.

We all decided Phil had a pretty good idea given that the alternative was trial-by-combat.  So that’s what we’re gonna do.  The new office manager will report directly to me and have a dotted line into each of the other direct reports.  Jan insisted we do the dotted line thing for her, since it was her idea, and then each of the direct reports wanted the office manager to have a dotted line in to them, so now we have the new position reporting to each of them and me.

So in a way, my original idea won out.  Yeah, I know, but sometimes being a leader means sitting back and letting your team figure out what you already know.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think Kevin wants to talk to me.

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