Kool Derby

Like top-notch employees, terrific managers are hard to find. In my last corporate job, I had the privilege ofworking for a smart, committed, and fair manager. While I’ve had other good managers in the past, I felt Tom was the best.

Applying and Interviewing

In the job classifieds section of the San Antonio Express-News, I noticed an IT position for a large insurance and investment company. The position called for several skills that were a good match, and I decided to apply.

Several weeks after submitting my application, I received a call from HR to schedule a series of interviews with managers of the IT department. The last interview was with a Tom, and he asked me one key question: Will you tell me more about Management by Objectives used in previous jobs?

I’m glad that he asked this question because I’m a big fan of MBO. The approach here is to meet with the manager early in the year and outline the objectives that will be completed. In essence, the manager helps me when I run into issues, but I am also accountable for my work.

Tom was pleased with my response, and he later told me that my knowledge and enthusiasm responding to this question made me the top candidate for the position. In fact, more than 1,000 prospects had applied.

Tom’s Managerial Approach

I enjoyed working for Tom because he was a no-nonsense manager. He was clear with the requirements, and he took the time to communicate expectations to those who worked for him.

Here are three reasons that Tom was a competent manager:

#1: He intervened when necessary.

As part of my duties in the IT department, I was assigned the $11.5M budget. This was hard work, especially when I had to collect information from other IT managers. The managers were busy, or they were unwilling to share information with me. Tom was proactive, oftentimes walking with me to speak directly with the managers. In short order, I had the information I needed to complete my work.

#2: He promoted training opportunities.

This particular organization offered many training sessions. Given that I used the MS Office Suite for much of my work, I completed every course in the program. This knowledge opened several key opportunities for me within the organization.

#3: Tom was transparent.

I recall the time when the company was downsizing, and every department was going to lose 10% of the staff. Given we had 10 people on our team, one person was going to be given the pink slip. The week before the announcement, Tom stated: I want to let you know that one of us will be cut from the team. I’m unsure right now who that person is, but it does include me. As it turns out, one employee from our department accepted a severance package, which reduced our staff by the 10% mandate.

Tom was not perfect, but he was talented. We could ask him for assistance, and he would help. If we stayed late working on a project, he stayed with us. He understood the importance of valuing employees. By doing so, we were committed to exceeding expectations.