Management Lessons From the Road

By Robyn-Jay Bage

No matter what holidays you celebrate or don’t, the weeks between mid-December and Jan. 1 can be harried, hurried and inhospitable. I have yet to meet the person who isn’t on edge in one way or another.

Nowhere is this more clear than in our places of work. Retail, production, nonprofit or government, the mad rush is enough to make even the most talented manager lose his or her cool. But as I recently observed, it doesn’t have to.

Bage decAgainst my better judgment, I was in a restaurant yesterday morning, a restaurant nationally renowned for its amazing breakfast menu. My pancake craving aside, the atmosphere suggested more of a stampede than a meal. The manager—you can always tell the manager by the snappy dress shirt, tie and headphone gear—was overseeing the hectic operation and calling out instructions here and there. His employees seemed to respond to these orders positively.

At one point, he directed the host (the person seating patrons) to help bus, as the number of dirty tables exploded. The host, an older man moving with care, did as he was asked to do and started to clear a table. Apparently unaccustomed to the job, he carried the few items he could manage back to the kitchen.

From across the room (already on to another task), the manager saw the host’s struggle. When the older gentleman entered the kitchen, the overdressed-for-the-job supervisor made his way to the table and cleared it with ease. When his employee returned, I watched their easy conversation and smiles as together they finished the tasks at hand. It made the rush of my day seem just a bit happier, so I smiled too.

The management lessons?

  1. Finding a reason to smile in the face of a challenge is infectious.
  2. When managers show their skills in meaningful ways, meaningful relationships happen.
  3. We are all in this together.

I wish that you find many reasons to smile during this hectic holiday season. Onward to 2015!

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