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Taking Ownership Of Your Job

, , , , , , | Working | September 27, 2021

Back in my college days, I worked in a hotel chain’s kitchen as a dishwasher to pay my rent and bills. Most people would think that Joe Schmoe in the back of the kitchen running dirty dishes through the mechanical washer was probably the absolute last on everyone’s list of priorities. However, within the first week that I started working there, I noticed a casually dressed person — not wearing any kind of uniform or name tag — who would come through checking different food items and writing on a clipboard.

He would always give me a friendly smile and ask if everything was okay. I assumed he was some manager from a different department, especially since he would occasionally ask me something like, “Hey, when you find time, could you sweep out (wherever)? That would be awesome! Thanks, buddy!”

I spotted a cook picking dropped food off the floor and putting it back on the plate to be served. I protested to her about it — only to be told, “Mind your own business!” — and then reported the incident to the kitchen manager. I was later approached by the casually dressed manager.

Manager: “Thanks for bringing that hygiene issue to our attention. Just to let you know, if you encounter any problem — any concerns, no matter how petty they are — you can come to my office at [floor]. What goes on here in this hotel is everyone’s business, including yours.”

Me: “Oh, are you the general manager?”

He chuckled.

Manager: “I’m here to make sure things are running smoothly.”

He stayed true to that; any concerns I had — like the mountains of unsold food that I was throwing away every day! — I could go discuss with him, and I would immediately see changes happen. I would always be greeted with, “How’s it going, buddy?” and he would make small talk, ask questions about me, the whole bit.

After a while, I asked the kitchen manager what exactly his position was. This man was not just the general manager; he was the OWNER of not only that hotel, but four other hotels in the region!

That was fifteen years ago, and out of all the people in management I remember, he’ll always stand out as the true example of what being a leader and manager is all about.

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