Article or Fable

Articles & Workplace Fables

The Resourceful Manager and the Challenging Volunteer
The Resourceful Manager was to be the charity shop’s fourth boss in as many years. At interview he had heard that sales had been disappointing and some of the staff were challenging, a sentiment only reinforced in his handover with the leaving manager.

‘They’re a good bunch by and large, their hearts are in the right place but watch out for So and So, she’s trouble!’

‘Why so?’ asked the new manager of his predecessor.

‘Well she’s opinionated, very experienced, questioning and not afraid to speak her mind,’ replied the departing boss.

‘I would have thought they were good qualities?’ said the new boss quizzically.

‘You’ll see,’ said the old boss putting on her hat and coat and leaving.

At the first staff meeting the Resourceful Manager set out his hopes and ambitions, but it wasn’t long before So and So was butting in and explaining why such and such a thing could not be done, or had been done before and failed, and what the real issues were that he should be tackling first. The other members of staff listened quietly.

But the Resourceful Manager was not phased, thanked So and So for her input and asked to see her privately, as she did the others to hear their views too.

At their meeting So and So told the new manager that she didn’t need a job as her husband had a very senior role and earned lots of money, she was in fact helping because she wanted to do something useful for the community and she liked meeting people locally.

‘New managers just waltz in, tell us what to do, get all the credit when we make things work, then waltz off to a bigger prize courtesy of us,’ So and So concluded, frustrated.

‘That must be very galling,’ said the Resourceful Manager empathetically to So and So’s great surprise. ‘I’m new and what I would value very much is you and our colleagues setting out how we might grow sales. The area manager and head office have asked for my views but I think it would be better for them to hear your views with all your experience. Will you do that?’

So and So felt flattered, agreed and marshaled the team. They came up with 101 ideas on how the shop’s sales could be boosted, from receiving more and better quality donated goods, to working with other shops and partners, to using online auctions to sell their best quality items.

Head Office loved the ideas and the Resourceful Manager was keen to point out they came from his team not him. He even asked the Chief Executive to write to team members to thank them for what they had come up with.

Having been given the green light the Resourceful Manager said his job was now to support the team bring the ideas to life. And he did. But more than that at every turn he reminded everyone just whose idea it was.

The shop sales improved dramatically and was lauded for the strength and unity of the team.

It is amazing what can be achieved if you don’t mind who takes the credit.