Division of Labor- Listen

When I was in high school, I discovered I had certain talents and I also discovered I was lacking certain talents.  I was good with numbers and very good at thinking abstractly, but I was not good at working with my hands and my people skills were severely lacking.  I’m not telling anybody over 30 anything new here.  At some point in each of our lives, we discover what we are good at and what we are not good at.

This turns out to be a wonderful thing when you live in a free society; freedom allows you to team up with others who complement your skills, so that all of your talents put together can allow you to do great things.  And freedom also allows you and the organization you are associated with to make changes whenever an association isn’t working or when it can be improved.

As a brief aside, consider what happens to this situation when you aren’t free, which happens whenever government begins to dictate the terms for how you can or cannot associate with others for mutual benefit.  I will go into this kind of thing further at some later time, but for now please understand how critically important freedom is to any kind of productive activity.  It literally cannot happen without it.

But I digress.  How this is relevant to my purpose here is to point out how vitally important it is to any organization that there be multiple talents available to it, sometimes almost mutually exclusive talents.  Unfortunately, this mix of talents can cause problems when people with different goals and outlooks try to work together.  Where I have seen this manifested is the friction that often exists between different departments in the same business.  It is not uncommon that the production department has problems with the sales department, and they can’t stand the accounting department who absolutely reviles the production department- i.e. strife all around.

How I got past this in my career was through watching a terrific role model, my father.  He had a similar career to mine as a CFO of a medium-sized manufacturer, and I watched how he interacted with the sales and production departments of his company.  He held the people managing these departments in the highest esteem.  And his every interaction with them made them always feel that they were important to him and that he wanted to help them to the best of his ability.

When I started my career, I took that to heart.  I understood just how important the Production Manager, the Sales Manager and the Plant Engineer and their employees were to the overall success of the business we all worked for, and I tried to make sure they understood that was how I felt as well.  Perhaps my biggest tool in accomplishing this was to try my best to make sure I was really, truly listening to them whenever we interacted.  Because of the obligations and goals of my position, I couldn’t always do everything the way they wanted, but I could try my level best to make sure I really understood their concerns and problems with what I wanted or needed from them, or with the information I was trying to provide them.

If you look at the Testimonials section of this website, I think you will see that I succeeded fairly well.  So if you want to be successful in whatever career you choose, and you also want your organization to be successful, make sure you respect and listen to all of the people in your organization who do the things that you can’t.


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