Faith, Trust and the Micro-Manager

This was a speech that I did at our last Toastmasters meeting. The group got a little chuckle from it and so I thought I would share it and maybe you might too.

Well it’s happened

I have become a micro manager.

At first I didn’t notice it too much…little hints there and there of the change in my behaviour.

But now…after 35 years of leading people from the deep abyss of mediocrity to becoming high achievers within their own domains by allowing them to be independent thinkers and doers…I have turned the corner and have become what I would categorize as a bad manager…

It all started this Christmas and hunting for the perfect Christmas gifts for that someone special. If I got it right, it would carry me over as a great husband until that next dreaded gift giving day – Valentine’s Day, which is also where my wedding anniversary hovers around.

I am sitting at the dining table scanning through all the sales catalogs when lo and behold I narrow my sights on a vacuum cleaner.

Not just any vacuum cleaner…a state of the art, robot vacuum cleaner that will scan and suck up the day’s debris, including pet hair while you are away.

I can hear your jeers of disappoint or shock to think that I am actually going to give my wife an appliance as a present! Just so everyone is clear…my wife did like the present and appreciates that this little chore will now get done without the usually “I am busy right now – do it later” discussions.

When everything had settled and Christmas was now a mere memory I casually asked if she would like me to set up the new vacuum cleaner and test it out.

And to my delight, I got two thumbs up.

The instructions were very simple. Charge it, set the schedule, press the button and let it go. Oh, this was going to be fun…but will it do all that it says it would?

I was about to find out.

Press the button – clean the house? – Press the button – yes!

Within seconds this turbo motor starts whining up like a jet engine getting ready for takeoff. It pulls out of its charger, scans the first room and drives off…and I follow it.

It goes to the walls and follows them around, then works the middle of the room and with the precision of a fine slalom skier; it navigates around the table legs and any other obstacles in its way.

I am amazed at its agility and ability to avoid getting stuck in a corner or under a coach and I continue to watch and follow.

Having quickly finishing that room, it looks for the opening and heads out seeking new territory and more dust, hair and bobby-pins to devour.

Oh no – it’s going down the hallway – where the stairs leading to the basement are. I didn’t read anything about what to do with stairs in the instructions. Was I to block the stairs with those over sized magnet strips which were now stuck to the fridge holding my grandkids poster sized drawings to the door?

So I watched and as it got closer to the stairs, I panicked. Not knowing what would happen I positioned myself down the stairs and prepared for what looked like the inevitable tumble of this dust busting monster.

It got to the edge – stopped – peeked over and to my surprise turned and continued on down the hallway. I swear that its laser eyes looked straight up at me and said, “Really, you actually thought I was dumb enough to fall down those stairs?

About half way through the home it stops and I hear it unwind down. Hang on – it’s not finished, there is still more to do. So I stormed up to it and with both hands on my hip I scour down upon my poor millennium slacker of a worker to read ‘I need to recharge and will continue later.’

This is robot talk for coffee break! Something that I would have to get used you because of some union contact signed overseas that I had no part in.

Mr Roboto is now in a third room which is separated by the hallway and is really on the other side of the house. So he does a quick 360 and starts to retrace his path. I have to make sure it is really going for its coffee break and not meeting up with that mop in the hall closet, which I think he spent far too much time in that area.

Well it does what it says and works its way back to the charger unit…and now I am curious on how it will manage to park it’s self.

It drives up to the charger and gives it a quick scan, turns about and proceeds to back into its dock like an experienced trucker backing into the loading bay, except it does this unusual wiggle movement with its stern, like it’s snuggling up against something warm and cuddly.

Having now witnessed and have faith that this miracle time-saving machine can vacuum the house to a reasonable standard, I can’t bring myself to fully trust it yet. What would it do if I were not watching it? Thus began my down slide into the forever talked about and hated manager type, the micro-manager.

The next step was to now program the machine to work while I was away. And just so it knew who the boss was, I set the cleaning schedule and pushed my employee’s button one more time.

Just to be sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to do while I am off playing a “real” boss, I planted tiny pieces of fluff in spots I know it’s supposed to go so that when I got home I would know that he had done that area and had not missed a spot.

Sometimes I would put a small plastic coloured Lego piece under the coach and go into its dust bin belly to see if is there. Yes it was bad!

Yes I have faith in my little servant however the trust wasn’t there. I continue for weeks suffering from Micro-Managerizms (my word) always watching and checking the work of this faithful servant.

Today, I am happy to say that I don’t plant those objects anymore (ok just once yesterday). When I come home I go straight to Roboto, grab his dust bin, run and empty the container full of the days catch in the trash and then gently place it back. And as I do I mutter, “You showed great effort today and made a difference in our lives…rest my faithful servant, tomorrow the grandkids come over.”

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