A lesson in managing people

Recently, the Salem Ohio Community Theatre performed a comedy roast and skits in Courtyard Square.

I often go to see the shows at our beautiful historical theatre in our city. They are professional and of very high quality and, indeed the theatre and it’s company are a grand asset of this wonderful city.

Dan Haueter was the Director, and managed a dozen or so unpaid and over-talented actors who, in two weeks put together a show that sold out and changed the entertainment direction of a city.

I am a manager of people. Most of my time has been spent in turn-arounds. I am known for being candid and absolute. I am not known for compassion nor for kindness. I am, perhaps a bit of a dinosaur, a remnant of the days of “If it ain’t broken – break it”.

Dan is very different. He never raised his voice. He never got upset. His management style was gentle and forgiving. The cast love him and I have grown to be yet another of his advocates. His demeanor and his success have caused me to reflect on myself and my methods.

“There is no greater friend than one who teaches you to be a better person” That quote is from me. I have had a few great men who have stopped to help me along the way. First my father, great bosses, great clients, and great employees, and I took what I felt was the best that they offered and I made it my own.

Now, I am confronted with another friend who has shown me that, perhaps it is time to look at myself and assess my style in light of the changed environment of management and to learn from Mr. Haueter’s gentle management style.

Scott Cahill

Political Correctness Gone Awry

I am semi-retired – what that means is that I now do things and run businesses that I never would have considered before. One of those endeavors is a small coffee shop in a Planned Unit Development that I am constructing in Ohio. The coffee shop is up and running and I am turning it over to another to run day to day. It will be run by a wonderful company who’s charge is to incorporate those of us with special needs into society. It is a wonderful effort and I believe completely in it.

I was recently approached by one of our best young employees. She asked if she could go to work in one of the other businesses. I agreed immediately because she is clearly a star, and clearly, such a person belongs in the folds of my endeavors.

The reason that she gave, though, was interesting to me. She left because the company taking the coffee shop was sending her to sensitivity training. I believe that she was hurt by this act. This person, like most intelligent, worldly, educated people does not think of race or background or mental peculiarity as a bad thing, but a simple part of the diversity of man. She is above any lack of compassion and she is beyond the period of awkwardness that precedes this understanding.

She is, probably, the perfect person to help in their efforts of integration. Instead, she will soon be managing the business side of a fine restaurant. What did the new owners do wrong to lose their best employee?

I would feel exactly as my employee felt. “If you think so little of me that you must teach me how to treat others, I will move on and find a place where I am thought more of.” That is, after all, what she did. She knew that I would not treat her as a liability that needed “trained” to act properly. She was secure in herself and knew that she would find gainful employment, in fact, she will find great success and will climb to the top of the organizational chart wherever she goes. She chose not to be treated as if she was a lesser person.

I understand that it is good to have a coordinated method to address these things, but clearly, we must find a way to introduce ideas and methods that does not belittle our people.

Long ago those of us who had mental differences or difficulty were completely integrated in our society. They swept walks and they opened doors. They had jobs, and friends, and people who they spoke to every day. Somehow we failed them. We locked them in green-walled rooms and let them glue macaroni onto construction paper. We stripped them of their humanity. Shame on us. I hope that these efforts bring all of us together again in the fabric of society. I want the different in the mix. The world is better and more complete with us all. It is true that those of us who are different are subject to the taunts of the unenlightened. That is bad, but even worse is this cloistering of the different, shunning them from the social world that is their inherent right.

Scott Cahill

Donald Trump Teaches Political Correctness

Look at us, the grand United States of America, the greatest nation on the face of the Earth!  We are wimps, pussies, punks!  We check our words and walk on egg shells. We cower in fear. We are the subjects of acts of terror. We sit with our hands in our laps as men hold razor knives to the throats of a female flight attendant – no – Stewardess – I said it – IT FEELS GREAT !!!

I served on a technical advisory committee in Virginia. There was a difficult effort to find consensus. In the discussion I made a statement; “You people need to consider – is the potential loss of one life sufficient to trigger a high-hazard classification for the dam?”

Oh, My God!  I did it! I called those people (dam owners, in this case) “you people” The discussion shifted from saving lives of those who occupied the inundation zones of dams, to asking me to apologize to the man. “I called them you people. They are people. There will be no apology” The monitor countered “Mr. Cahill didn’t mean to be offensive when he called you “you people”.

He was horrible offended. He voiced his concern that he probably could not work with me. He stood up and threatened to leave. It must have been a horrible day for him having been told that he was “people”.

Where does it end? Will we continue to attempt to legislate the difference between someone saying to a colleague “Hey, Nice dress.” or the dreaded and damaging “”Hey, Nice dress.” Are we going to regulate words – calling them by the “A” word or the “B” word like a bevy of grade school teachers!

If a feigned insult stops the conversation and requires the subrogation of the offender, then what shall our conversations become. Calling names and voicing our colorful insults is the very foundation of our country. I am quite certain that when Thomas Jefferson left the room, Ben Franklin looked to the guy beside him and said “I wonder if that jerk will ever get that stick out of his ass”.

Now we come to this – Donald Trump, too big to ignore, too strong to crush, crashing through our well appointed little china shop, his horns sweeping the glass shelves of the Swarovski Chrystal. He is the proverbial bull. Our nation has become a fragile little china shop.

“Donald Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly escalated Friday night when he said the Fox News host had “blood coming out of her wherever” at this week’s Republican debate, resulting in swift condemnation from conservatives and a major political event pulling its invitation to him.”

Kelly’s line of questioning, which supposed a myriad of inappropriate statements devoid of background nor the opportunity to frame, was actually more of a damning statement. Trump tried to contain himself to humor, but his ire peaked through.

Perhaps Mr. Trump will find a better way to respond to these kind of attacks, in the mean time, perhaps some of us should take a midol and get some rest!

Scott Cahill

Political Correctness is choking us

We are going through a period where professional rapport requires the utmost care in the framing of communication. Any communication can be “misinterpreted” and the problem can shift at the speed of light from “you were late for work” to “you hate me because of my (insert here all ethnic, religious, sex, weight or body shape, hair color, etc. etc.)”

If you are not careful as you waltz on the eggshells that comprise the corporate dance floor, you certainly will find yourself unconcerned with the problem of tardiness. You may be much more concerned with keeping your position, your ability to be promoted, your corporate political collateral. You might even find little interest from your manager in the productivity-based concern, as the more extreme concern of your poorly selected words grow to consume everything that was once good about the position which you hold. It may be better to let them “choose their own hours” after all.

Management is a difficult thing. Managing those who we hold little control over is nearly impossible. I know, they say lead by example, etc. – but really – do those employees come in early because you do?

I see so many managers who treat employees as if they feared them – who, perhaps, do fear them. They tell staff to “avoid” someone, or to not get too close to someone. They give directions that cannot be followed. They never apologize, less they may be seen as “admitting” error.

This is not a healthy environment for business. It also is not a healthy environment for people, who spend a large part of their waking lives to meet a common goal, to perform within. I hope for a time when people again take responsibilities for their own sensitivities. I look forward to a time when people talk again in the work place.

This politically correct experiment has failed. It is time, at last, to admit our humanity and to talk out our issues, so that everyone can be happy to join together to move toward our goal.

Scott Cahill