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By Darryl Stewart
A back view of a man sitting at his full desk

“I Just Need to Have My Butt in that Seat”

We like to keep things light at IBEX, so no one was surprised when our grumpy meeting (we call our managers “the grumpies”) was opened by Terry with “anyone got any meat to hang?” Peregrin then jumped in with “anyone got a bone to pick?” it just got sillier “anyone got a car to wash?”, “anyone got a dog to walk?”, “anyone got lawn to mow?” until we were all giggling like a bunch of little kids.

It all turned serious suddenly when Kevin, said “actually guys there is something I need bring up”. With our full attention Kevin explained that the next week was going to be super busy; he was down two key staff (both on holidays), and he was going to need some extra support and understanding from the rest of us and our respective teams. I immediately swung into super reactive mode offering up suggestions for changing the company agenda for the next week. Others then went into defensive mode, guarding precious resources to make sure their teams did not get too distracted by my crazy ideas. Kevin let this go on for awhile and then politely interrupted: “Guys, I got this. This is what I do. I just need my butt in my seat next week.” What Kevin really wanted was for us grumpies to agree to help with a few managerial duties and to cancel our meetings for the week so that he could keep himself and his team focused on getting the work done with a much smaller team that usual.

All this reminded me that just because I couldn’t handle this, doesn’t mean that Kevin could not. He has a gift for bouncing multiple balls, staying calm, responding naturally to customers concerns and keeping his team all moving in the right direction. Somehow magically it all gets done. Kevin is a gifted operational manager, a conductor of sorts with his orchestra being his team of payroll specialists. None of the rest of us grumpies could do what he does to the level he does it.

I then thought about what each of the management team at IBEX have gravitated to and I was reminded that each of us are playing to our strengths in what we do every day. No wonder we can all laugh together so easily, love working together so much, and can’t image doing anything else.

In my talks and workshops, the thing I am most passionate about is, not treating everyone the same, but rather getting to know each person we work with and helping bring their particular personal strengths to bear in any way we can. Kevin’s butt has reminded me that we got this going on at IBEX.

Great managers fight the temptation to think that each person they work with is capable of equal performance in all areas. Great managers take the time to know.

  1. What a great philosophy!!
    As I prepare to retire after 32 years in the corporate world, I reflect on the many people that crossed my path. I have great admiration for the ones that treated me with fairness and respect for ‘who I was’. They are the ones that I worked my hardest for, had a positive image of and the ones I will always remember with great fondness.
    Keep up the good work over there!

    • Thanks Fran – I think all great managers should aspire to be the person that helped someone see the best in themselves and helped them use it to its fullest. Your thoughts on this validated that for me.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Darryl. It’s amazing what your people can achieve sometimes if you just “get out of the way” and let them do their thing.

  3. what a timely post for me, as Im trying to fit together our RVCC holiday schedule of activities and events with our staff crew of high school and early university students! The matching game requires knowing our employees’ strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and, of course, availability! Tomorrow, all will be revealed!
    Thanks for the post…it’s right on the mark for me!

IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant. 

Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.