The Ripple Effect

I am a firm believer that the good (and bad) bosses you have in your early career set the stage for your future employment success and longevity.  It’s a ripple effect through your employment history.

I’ve been working since I was 13.

Yes, that’s right.  My first job was watching the little kids at the kiddie pool during the Red Cross sponsored swimming lessons at the area pool.  I don’t remember much about that job other than it was 8 weeks, at least 3 days a week. I used the money ($80) to purchase an expensive puppet to use in the church puppet ministry.

Fast forward to high school and I encountered a boss who has left a lasting impression, Ram Neufeldt.  I was working at a sub shop (Sub-n-Stuff) when the boss who hired me was replaced by Ram.  There was something about the way he treated me, a teenager of 16.  I was given respect and responsibility.  He recognized that I was capable and trustworthy.  He promoted me to “crew chief,” a form of swing / shift manager.

The way he spoke to all of us teenagers taught us a lot about who we were and who we could become.  He knew there was a time for silliness and a time to get to work, he guided us with both.

The next manager who made a lasting impression was Roberta “Berta” Lillie.  Again, she treated us all with respect and took the time to mentor and teach all of us who were privileged to work with her.  I was her assistant manager at Graphic Impressions, a sort of Deck the Walls if you’re familiar with the concept.

While I was still young in terms of management, Roberta knew how to help me learn to be tactful, tolerant and patient with other staff members.  She taught me about framing and measuring, something that required a lot of math, surprisingly. With her guidance I was promoted to manager of another Graphic Impressions store in the area.

I’ve worked with good bosses who are excellent teachers and mentors.  I’ve had the trust of management to do my job and rewarded for doing the job well.

I know that these early examples helped me become a manager who had low turnover of staff, better ability to relate to others and mentor staff upward.  In the long term I was able to grow a business that was twice nominated “Best Place to Work” by the local Business Journal.

And then there have been bosses who were less stellar.  There were bosses who micro managed, a clear sign that there was no trust.  And ones who flat out ignored me altogether, failing to communicate vision, direction or even performance reviews.   I wasn’t challenged or given opportunities to grow professionally.  From them I learned, simply put, what not to do.

I believe that people are motivated by jobs that matter.  People want to work with others who genuinely care about what they are doing and the people they are working with.  People want opportunities to be challenged, engaged and grow professionally.

Relationships matter and the ripple effect is real.

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