I was sitting at my desk when one that new supervisor we hired, the rounded-headed kid, knocked on my door.
“Can we talk?” He asked.
A can that read Psychiatric Help 5 Cents sat on my desk. I picked it up and shook it. The coins inside it jingled.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a nickel and dropped into the slot in the top of the can. I motioned for him to sit down.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“It’s my staff. I delegate assignments, give instructions, make sure they understand, but when I turn around, they just start playing music and dancing.”
“I’ve seen that. That one guy is great on the ivories, especially considering it’s a toy piano with only five keys.”
“They won’t do anything I say.”
“Why do you think that is?”
The supervisor shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s always been this way. Even my dog doesn’t listen to me.”
I nodded, recalling the beagle who came with him on Bring Your Dog to Work Day. Wore an ascot and a flying cap. “Your dog thinks he’s a World War One flying ace,” I said.
“Still, if I can’t get him to do what I want, how can I get my staff to listen?”
“Have you thought of upgrading your wardrobe? I mean, you always where that same shirt with the black zig-zag. There has to be something else in your closet.”
“I don’t think it’s my clothes.”
“Then maybe you should try getting involved in some of the stuff they’re involved in. Have you thought of joining the company softball team? I know most of your staff play.”
“I did. Lost every game I pitched. They think less of me now than ever.”
“What would you suggest is it then?
“I need a change in title. Supervisor just doesn’t carry enough weight.”
“What about Grand Poobah, or Lord God Emperor?”
“I’m serious. Calling me manager instead of supervisor might make all the difference.”
I frowned. “You know what my title is?”
He shook his head.
“Neither do I. It’s changed so many times, I can’t remember it without checking my business card. Still, I’m here and people listen to me. Why do you think that is?”
He looked at the can on my desk. “Because you’re cheap?”
I rose, “I’m not cheap, I’m affordable!”
The shout sent the supervisor flying from his chair, he spun in the air, his clothes flying off him before he hit the ground. Stars and hashtags appeared over his head.
After he was dressed and sitting in his chair again, I continued. “They listen to me because I listen to them. Your staff knows their jobs. They don’t need you telling them what to do. They need you to support them in what they already know they need to do.”
The supervisor was quiet for a moment. “So no new title?”
“If I thought it would help, I’d be all for it. But you aren’t going to get the respect you want until you start respecting others. It doesn’t matter what title you have.”
He rose and thanked me, told me he had a lot to think about. As he headed out the door, I asked, “Could you send Patricia in? I need to talk to her about those sandals. Definitely not up to dress code.