The First Book of Management

Chapter 9 - Dangerous Roy

In one job I had inherited a first line manager who had a very mixed reputation. Called Roy, he was an ex-Union representative who had “turned” and defected to the other side by becoming a manager. He was outspoken, courageous but prickly. Also a very quick thinker, and very streetwise. Hard to control.

Should I go for tight control and show him who is boss?

I was too scared of him to do that, and there were large chunks of the job that I didn’t really understand, so for all the wrong reasons I delegated those to him.

It worked brilliantly!  

For example, as Operations Manager I was supposed to be in charge of the buying of Cardboard Cores. We spent £50,000 a year on these, and the three main suppliers used to vie for our business by taking the Operations Manager out to lunch. The previous Operations Manager had reveled in the power, and the free lunches, and spent a fair amount of time and effort on Cores.

Personally I didn’t fancy the idea of endless lunches with Core salesmen, and was too busy to get into the pros and cons of each supplier, and Roy had strong opinions on the subject which I found hard to argue with, so I put him in charge of core buying. He went at it like a rat up a drainpipe. Within weeks he had negotiated really tough deals on price, delivery, and quality, better than I could ever had done, and he was loving it. And he was motivated to make it work, sorting out any problems immediately, (where previously he would have reported the problems to me with a told-you-so tone and left me to sort them out). Win/win!

Following the success of the Cores I put Roy in charge of the Rewind Section - always a hot bed of discontent and technical problems and customer complaints about quality. I told Roy that he was the only person who could sort it out, and I believed it. And he did sort it out.

And I got the credit!  

No, only joking - Roy got the credit, and quite right too. But it reflected well on me too that I had put the right person in charge and had motivated him. It was win/win. Like the ideal captain of the ship (except I did it for all the wrong reasons, like cowardice and incompetence) I had concentrated on People and Systems instead of trying to do it all myself.

What I learned from Roy:

Message 9: People are capable of really impressive results if you give them the chance to shine.

So don’t wait till you are too busy or too scared or too incapable to do it yourself - delegate it to the right person at the right time.
Next Page
Chapter 1   - The Captain Of The Ship
Chapter 2   - Wandering About
Chapter 3   – Difficult Jack
Chapter 4   - Dr. Evil
Chapter 5   - Knowledge is Power
Chapter 6   - Destruction
Chapter 7   - A real friend
Chapter 8   - Teams from Hell
Chapter 9   - Dangerous Roy
Chapter 10 - Bob vs. Bob
Chapter 11 - Own Goals