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The enthusiastic manager

The enthusiastic manager

Many years ago, I had the worst soul-sucking job on planet earth, the kind you wind up with when you are young and have no experience. Everything about it was terrible. I was trying to earn my way through college at the time, so my options were pretty limited. There were two managers at this establishment who were roughly the same age, with the same level of experience and were well aware of how unenviable their positions were. Everyone knew their jobs were temporary, but that didn't make it any easier, the hours were long, the pay was horrible but jobs were scarce at the time, so we all just tried to make the best of our situation. Some days were awful, some days were tolerable. The difference between the two came down to who was in charge; in other words, it came down to leadership.

Schedules were posted two weeks in advance so you could check your hours, coworkers and who the manager would be that day. When one particular name was posted, it was a relief but with the other came a feeling of dread. It seems odd it would make such a difference who was in charge but it was a well-known fact among employees which manager was preferred. One seemed to have boundless enthusiasm while the other was dull and listless. The energy these guys gave off, for better or worse, was contagious. With the first manager, there was a feeling of comradery even in a terrible situation. There was room for spontaneity and even a little room fun as we toiled over our labor. The second manager was utterly defeated by his job and made no secret about the fact that he felt the company owed him something and it was the job of the staff to elevate his mood by working harder so his job would be easier. Everybody felt his misery and working with him made the days feel endless and devoid of joy. The odd thing came during an overlap period where the two traded shifts. Depending on which way the shift was transitioning, there was either a feeling enthusiasm, where the first manager would begin to change the mood of the second crew or the reverse where one crew leveled down to the second. The change didn't go unnoticed by upper management who promoted the first manager. Jealous of the other's success, and struggling to understand why the crews did not perform as well under his direction, the second manager became even more bitter and cynical.

I won't lie to you. There are times when I feel the second manager's attitude begin to creep in on my thoughts but the lesson I learned has always stuck with me. What you project is generally what is projected back at you. If you are warm and friendly and see things in a positive light, then the people who surround you will most likely feel the same toward you. If, on the other hand, you are more like the second manager who projected a negative outlook, with no hope and no spark, that is very likely what you will receive. The world, our jobs, our relationships do not owe us the way we feel. It is what we bring to the table that matters and that ultimately affects how others around us see us and reflect what we project.

Which manager would you rather be? Which manager are you projecting right now?