He almost killed somebody, but one minute changed his life. The beautiful story comes from Sherman Rogers’ old book, “Foremen: Leaders or Drivers?” In his true-life story, Rogers illustrates the importance of effective relationships.
During his college years, Rogers spent a summer in an Idaho logging camp. When the superintendent had to leave for a few days, he put Rogers in charge.
”What if the men refuse to follow my orders?” Rogers asked. He thought of Tony, an immigrant worker who grumbled and growled all day, giving the other men a hard time.
”Fire them,” the superintendent said. Then, as if reading Rogers’ mind, he added, “I suppose you think you are going to fire Tony if you get the chance. I’d feel badly about that. I have been logging for 40 years. Tony is the most reliable worker I’ve ever had. I know he is a grouch and that he hates everybody and everything. But he comes in first and leaves last. There has not been an accident for eight years on the hill where he works.”
Rogers took over the next day. He went to Tony and spoke to him. “Tony, do you know I’m in charge here today?” Tony grunted. “I was going to fire you the first time we tangled, but I want you to know I’m not,” he told Tony, adding what the superintendent had said.
When he finished, Tony dropped the shovelful of sand he had held and tears streamed down his face. “Why he no tell me dat eight years ago?”
That day Tony worked harder than ever before — and he smiled! He later said to Rogers, “I told Maria you first foreman in deese country who ever say, ‘Good work, Tony,’ and it make Maria feel like Christmas.”
Rogers went back to school after that summer. Twelve years later he met Tony again. He was superintendent for railroad construction for one of the largest logging companies in the West. Rogers asked him how he came to California and happened to have such success.
Tony replied, “If it not be for the one minute you talk to me back in Idaho, I keel somebody someday. One minute, she change my whole life.”
Effective managers know the importance of taking a moment to point out what a worker is doing well. But what a difference a minute of affirmation can make in any relationship!
One minute. Have you got one minute to thank someone? A minute to tell someone what you sincerely like or appreciate about her? A minute to elaborate on something he did well? One minute. It can make a difference for a lifetime.