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November 23, 2016

I am now an unrepentant retiree. I figured I would let the folks who deserve to worry about early career folks worry about them, and let myself off the hook entirely. Was offered a “permanent” part time, but with four days the maximum stretch possible to be off work, I elected none of the above. I immediately celebrated with a month-long roadtrip. Covered Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland collectively. If I had not been thinking more about things at home than on the road, I would still be out there.

After significant stints of work in four fields (bakery production and management, natural resources management and research, human performance/health and safety, and librarianship), plus three Master’s degrees, it is no great revelation to say that the people part of the work equation makes all the difference. It is not so much what you do, but how you (are permitted to) do it. I have worked joyfully, and then I have longed to be “anywhere else but here.” The people around me have been the telling factors in this continuum.

Now seems to be an ideal time to put my 40+ years of work experience to good use, and share some of the observations for improving management gleaned from years of discovery and puzzlement. It all comes down to this:

You don’t know everything. Siri does not have you on speed dial. Let people who are trained in current methods and technique do their jobs, and you will get more out of your existing systems and people than you think might be possible. Don’t hold them back. The 20th Century was fun, but it is over. Smug inattention is not a management nor leadership skill; it is a character flaw.

Unpack the best tools (leadership by example and listening), hire the best and most diverse workforce, give them honest feedback, listen to what they have to say in return, and base management decisions on the data you gather in an open and honest appraisal that includes the employees affected. Look up the word “professional.” It refers to both people and a discipline. To deprive workers of a professional workplace is unforgivable. Fiefdoms went out with the Dark Ages.

Happy trails; may you find and be good management, mliswilltravel.

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