Letters to a General Superintendent (Part 16)

Doug Bellamy / November 2015

What follows is the 16th letter in a series of letters supposedly written by an owner (Jack Owployer) in response to a general superintendent’s (Joe Gensup) request for something more than the typical job description. Though the company had provided a generic job description, what the superintendent needed and received was much more personal and heartfelt when compared to the sterile notion of do’s and don’ts so commonly emphasized throughout our industry.

Dear Joe:

OK, Joe, let me digress, move forward and do whatever it takes, in spite of our past focus. This is going to get interesting, if it already isn’t. Yes, we are busy—very busy. Nevertheless, I come back to and always will force the focus on priorities. We’ve got a problem that needs dealt with in management, and we are going to get out a new broom and sweep clean. I tell you right now, it may take a letter or two to get our house in order, nevertheless, this is gonna get said.
    
I know we have plenty of work to do. Nevertheless I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s small and barely twinkling but soon we will be out of this chaos, work will slow some and be more manageable. A few more weeks and we are there. So then, let’s move on at least for now. Let’s focus on our future. Let’s be proactive. Let’s get back to our management issues, the clear and present danger.
    
Who needs to battle with bad management? Not me! They say the cream always comes to the top, and it does. Unfortunately, so does slime. This slimy individual hasn’t been on board for a while. If he wants to blame everyone else for problems in his department and fails to take personal responsibility, he can find somewhere else to do it. When we got into the push, he bailed, even though he is paid a salary. All of us had to pick up the slack, none of which was fair in anyone’s mind but his. So then, he wants to blame every other department for his failures, meanwhile constantly complaining about everyone else throwing him under the bus. Get real. He is projecting his own guilt on everyone else. None of which works. He is already history.
    
Get used to a sad fact: Self-eliminators are prevalent. They appear, reappear and ultimately leave the scene. Why? Because they force their dismissal. I’ve seen them come and go over the years, and this dude is a classic example. Sometimes you have to get busy to flush them out. Usually they are somewhat obvious, but getting busy makes them particularly odious and forces the powers that be to exercise that power and deal with them. This one has nowhere else to go but out the door, and I’ve got zero patience with him. He’s as good as gone.
    
I’ve noticed a phenomena over the years. Hard-headed individuals in management who are persist in behaviors that eventually force them out of an organization. They self-eliminate.
    
You find yourself working around them. You can’t get what you want and need from them, so eventually you give up and find another way to get it done. They simply aren’t on board. Maybe they are just too secure in their job. Maybe they simply don’t care. Sometimes they foster pockets of resistance as they garner sympathizers in the organization. They develop pus pockets oozing an infection, deliberately spread. Left unattended, they fester and contaminate. They are like a cancerous limb that must be removed. Painful but true.
    
The tendency is to put up with them too long. You don’t know how or with whom to replace them. Nevertheless, you finally conclude that they are doing more damage than good, and you deal with them. Usually the action is long overdue.
    
Let me spell this out for you. If you are going to manage, you are going to deal with this problem and you better learn how to deal with it effectively and fast. Otherwise you send a clear signal to everyone watching—your management team and oftentimes observant employees—that you are too inept to deal with the obvious. This is something you can’t afford to ignore. Since we are already in motion and on the right path, further instruction can wait. I’ll get back to you on this matter and share some pointers on how to get it buttoned up, straight away.
    
I’ll be back.

—Jack

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at doug@altadrywall.com.