Professional first line managers can manage most any business. First line managers are given the goals the company wants to carry out and a workforce to carry out the goals. Truly successful managers are passionate about their job. Passion provides the energy to bridge the difficult situations in managing a department. Passion is “an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or convection to carry out a task.” A manager can find this passion and can lose it.
I accomplished my passion as motel general manager. I loved it. Emily asked me one morning, “What are we going to do when you retire?” She realized I had no plan for my retirement. I said, “I am never going to retire.” This I truly believed, I was never going to stop being a motel general manager. Then, I got fired twice. Both times, I found another motel to manage; a motel that paid me more as their general manger than the one I left. This was not the kind of life I wanted, I started to change.
One night at the Ramada Inn Crest I fired two waiters. We were in the Christmas season; we were serving three parties. I, Emily, and a waitress served these parties. About2:00 am, I carried a bus tub of ice to the party in the pent house. As, I waited for the party to open the door, I looked out the window toward the Vulcan, this was the last straw. I was getting out of the motel business.
I told Cecil Gaines, the receiver, I wanted to get out of the motel business. Cecil said he knew a man who needed a manager. I met Mr. W. W. Palmer to discuss his management job. He was an older man; he had built his successful business from the ground up. Mr. Palmer said he needed some young man to manage his business. I decided to work for him in his bakery. I was out of the motel business. I could manage anything, so I thought.
I lasted from February to August in the bakery business. There were two things that kept me there that long; the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm. One day, I came out of the maintenance room; there stood Mr. Yarborough looking at the run of rolls. He was rocking back and forth. There he stood in his white paper hat, his white clothes, his black work shoes, and white socks. I came up to him in my white outfit and paper hat. He said, “Ain’t they pretty.” He was talking about the 4200 dozen rolls an hour coming out of the oven. I knew he was expressing his true feelings about being a baker. I, on the other, realized that meant nothing to me. I had no passion for the business. When I resigned Mr. Palmer said, “You are doing a great job for us, I am disappointed.” I knew I could never develop a passion for the business. I could be successful; but, at what cost to myself and my family.
This bakery job taught me a great lesson, be very careful about the jobs I take. I told my son, “it is important to know what you want to do; but, it is more important to know what you do not want to do. If you do not know what you do not want to do, you might wind up doing it for the rest of your life.” I am glad we have the Mr. Yarborough’s of the world who are passionate about making rolls. I like a good roll; I just don’t want to make them.
Passion is the determining factor in most First Line Manager’s success stories. Being good versus being the best comes from passion. This passion is not transferable. Managers express this passion in their actions, just as Mr. Yarborough did; but, employees in their department must develop their passion for the job. A department is truly successful when employees are passionate about their jobs. This is the key to success; Managers and employee’s passionate about being the best. This passion will make a department’s actions the bench mark for others to follow.
I found passion being a first line manager for an electric utility. This year, I bid on another customer service job in the company. One of the interviewers told me he could not believe the passion I have for my job. This passion makes me personally successful: not the job I have, or salary I earn. My job is stressful like most first line managers jobs. This is positive stress; because of the passion I have for doing my job. My family and I have benefited from this passion for over 33 years.