Managing in challenging times

Remember when the term "jobless recovery" was in vogue? It was probably around 2010, when some companies began seeing business pick up from the crash that began in 2008 and scraped bottom for most of 2009.

From the June, 2013 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

by Patrick McLaughlin

Remember when the term "jobless recovery" was in vogue? It was probably around 2010, when some companies began seeing business pick up from the crash that began in 2008 and scraped bottom for most of 2009. As business conditions got better, hiring didn't happen. So stock-price news from Wall Street was better than unemployment news that affected Main Street. It was dubbed the jobless recovery.

Perhaps someone with a keener economic sense than me will set me straight on this one, but it seems to me what has really changed since that time is the term doesn't get used as much anymore. But the elements that define the term "jobless recovery" still look to be in place. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassing 14,000 but the unemployment needle not really moving, people who are employed and contributing to their retirement accounts are looking at some upside while those who remain unemployed and contemplating borrowing from their retirement accounts continue to see only downside.

In an article that appears in this issue, Jason Wilbur of Fluke Networks discusses some of the jobsite realities created by this "jobless recovery" in the cabling industry. He explains that in many contracting organizations, more-experienced personnel with in-depth technical expertise are spread thinly. They are on any particular jobsite when that expertise is needed. The catch, as he points out, is that it's not always predictable when that expertise will be needed.

When I was first given the responsibility of overseeing the work of others, a mentor frequently reminded me of the simplistic formula for success as a manager: Delegate and supervise. For many managers today, the opportunity to supervise is limited, either because as Wilbur points out subordinates are at a physically separate location, or because as is the case for many managers, days (and nights) most often are filled with the operation's more-complex tasks, the responsibility for which bubbled up to the manager when some of the more-qualified staff were no longer there to perform them. So rather than "delegate and supervise," many of today's managers work under the motto "delegate and pray" (for those with a religious inclination to do so). Or "delegate and worry." Or both.

Despite the challenges, and without ignoring the difficult realities, it is incumbent upon all managers to do what can be done to pass along knowledge and skills to staff members. The job, the company and the industry will be better off because of the effort. ::

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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