Taking the heat is a managers job
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about being a manager. I was talking to someone about it and I remembered a time when I took the heat for someone working for me. It wasn’t easy to do but it was the right thing to do and in the end, it was the best thing to do.
When I was an assistant store manager at Macy’s, every few months the big wigs would come out to see what was happening. I oversaw every women’s ready-to-wear department including cosmetics, so roughly 1/3 of the entire store. I had 6 managers reporting to me.
One of the managers was a young man who had the leanings of what we now refer to as a “bro”. He was also out to prove himself without any help from anyone. No matter what I would say or what advice I would give him, he would do it his way which is fine if it works.
We all knew the VP was coming out to tour the store with the President one particular morning. The young man’s area was a disaster and I knew it and as much as I tried to get him on track, it wasn’t working so I decided to just let the powers that be come out and see the disaster. The VP was not happy and ripped into the both of us that day. It was not pretty. I took the hit for the entire mess in front of the manager. Blaming him was not going to get any of us anywhere.
After the VP was done, I met up with him later in my office. I told him I knew it was a mess and he should come back in two weeks, as we would fix it. I told him that I was well aware of what was wrong but I would take all the responsibility with the hopes that the manager would shift gears.
The next day, the young man was shell-shocked. Our relationship had completely changed overnight. He completely acknowledged that I had been beaten up because of him and that he wanted to succeed here not destroy himself. We got down to business and he became a star. The VP came back out two weeks later and the place shined. It was a transformation overnight for the young man. I heard from him on and off for years as he grew in his career. He always thanked me for doing what I did.
What I learned is management is “we” not “I” and if you do right by the people that report to you, that means taking the hits and giving them the accolades as I did when the VP came back in two weeks, that it makes you feel pretty damn good and more importantly you become a star yourself.