Screen Printing - October/November 2017 - 4
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED...
A family vacation stirs up a lesson in employee autonomy.
hen something goes wrong at your shop, your first instinct as a manager is
probably to jump in and fix the problem. It's usually the wrong thing to do.
That lesson struck a chord with me during a recent family getaway. We stayed
in a hotel suite with separate sleeping and living rooms. Our adult daughter, a night
owl, took the rollaway sofa bed in the other room, while our son (then 12) got one
queen bed and my wife and I the other. The arrangement had worked well for us in
the past, though in hindsight, our son was younger then and a very deep sleeper.
I woke up the first morning and realized that Sam was gazing steadily at me from
across the room. With a pretty good idea of how he would respond, I asked him
how he had slept. It was a question he had been waiting a very long time to answer.
"Well, I'll tell you how I slept," he began. "You two were snoring so loudly that
it woke me up at 3:00. I stared at the clock for four hours waiting for it to stop."
He imitated the noises we made. He gave us new nicknames. (My wife's was
He was still in mid diatribe when I went to see if my daughter, Liz, fared any
better. She had not. "This mattress has got to be 100 years old," she began before I
could manage a morning pleasantry. "There were springs sticking in my back and it
squeaked every time I moved."
While my wife and I debated whether to ask for a different room, the kids
worked out a solution to their dilemma. Liz offered to take the queen bed that night
while Sam went to the sofa. She didn't take note of how readily he agreed.
The second morning came, and I awoke to find what appeared to be a combat
bunker on the other bed - a deep wall of pillows and chair cushions that Liz had
fashioned into a foxhole, which had proven to be neither soundproof nor, thankfully, airtight. In the other room, Sam slept contentedly; he had the good sense not
to gloat during the tense breakfast that followed, and was amenable to his sister's
suggestion that they share the sofa bed for the rest of the trip. Crisis solved with no
intervention from the parents.
The moral for managers? We sometimes forget that our people don't need us to
solve their problems. They know their processes better than we
do. Their ideas will be on point. More importantly, they'll own
the solutions they develop on their own and continue to refine
them, rather than resenting ineffective decisions handed
down from above. (Imagine how Day Two of my vacation
might have gone if I'd been the one to suggest that the kids
trade beds.) All we need to do is create an environment
where people feel empowered to make decisions on their
own, while providing the support they need and an open line
But perhaps not too open. I did need to have a chat with
my kids about interpersonal diplomacy after being called "Four
Snore and Seven Years Ago" one too many times.
STEVE DUCCILLI, ASDPT
Senior Vice President of Content
Senior Vice President/Group Publisher
Business Development Managers
Lou Arneberg - East and Midwest US,
Jim Karwowski - West and South US,
Western Canada, Europe, Asia
Karen Jones - NC, SC, GA, Classifieds
Audience Development Manager
Director of Online Media
Screen Printing Subscription Services
P.O. Box 3060, Northbrook, IL 60065
F: 847-763-9030 E: SP@omeda.com