This story relates to an employee that he recruited and gave a chance despite being told by a number of sources that this man will let you down…big time.
This man, Peter, was 25 years old, with a wife of 24 months and a new baby just 6 months old and had been sacked from his last two jobs. The latest was from a role as a storeman at the local newspaper, my father had come in contact with him there when he purchased his butchers paper from the newspaper. He had been in this position for 18 months and was dismissed for what his manager described as lack of respect and general tardiness.
Being desperate for a job to support his family he reached out to my father for a position in the butchers shop. Dad had liked his personality, and dry humor in the times that they had met and said he would consider his application to train as a butcher. When doing the reference checking his previous boss advised dad strongly not to hire him, citing no respect for authority and refusing to do allotted tasks. On checking with his boss in his previous job there was a current of the same thing including absenteeism and a punctuality problem.
Dad being open, honest and forthright confronted Peter and he denied the lack of respect saying that his manager was demanding, overbearing and had forced Peter to do tasks that he felt were not in his job description. Peter admitted that in the role prior to that he went through a wild time and had taken a few sickies and been late on a number of occasions. Dad then went to see the previous boss and he stated that Peter was a “bad egg” very difficult to control, impossible to motivate, bad manners and lacked respect of his superiors.
After due consideration he got Peter in again, three times over the next week, once abnormally early, once in the evening and once specifically for 10 minutes at 10.20am. He did this to check punctuality and desire as he had to ride his bike over 30 minutes to attend the interviews. Peter passed this test and Dad went over with him the things raised by his previous manager, Dad listened intently, without judging as Peter blamed the managers style without taking responsibility himself. He said no-one respected the manager, he was regarded as extremely tough to please and a hard task master.
At these meetings Dad explored Peter’s dreams and if given the role obtained his commitment to work under Dad to improve not only his work skills but his life skills as well. It was explained to Peter that this would be tough, the training would be three times a week for an hour prior to commencing work.
After weighing things up and without offer of a job Dad stated that we wanted Peter to work for two weeks, on no pay to assess his suitability for the job. Peter agreed without even thinking about it as he said he felt that Dad would teach him to be a great butcher and more importantly to be a great husband and father. This was the key that Dad had been looking for, Peter taking some responsibility for developing himself and he offered him the role there and then.
Over the next year there were some rough times when Peter felt that Dad was too demanding of him and they had a few heart to heart discussions. In these discussions Peter quickly realized that Dad was linking back to Peter’s dreams uncovered at their first meeting. Dad was being tough keeping Peter on track to develop the skills and attributes to be successful in business and life.
Peter worked for Dad for 10 years before opening his own butchers shop….that was his dream! He described Dad as tough, unrelenting but with a huge heart and the one person in his life that he looked up to as he brought the best out in him.
Peter told me this story at my fathers funeral.
The moral of this story is you do not have to be soft as a manager to gain respect, you have to be authentic, provide honest feedback and work with people to achieve their dreams.