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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Men Delegate, Women Do

Men Delegate, Women Do

Years ago, I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank. It was my dream job. I started out as a manager and worked my way up to Assistant Vice President. A new Vice President position was created in my area; I worked hard for this, and I wanted it.

My competition was a man who was older than I who had worked in banking for many years at one of our competitors. He was the typical “good ole boy” stereotype. The office opened at 8:00 a.m., but he would arrive at 9:00 or 9:30, newspaper and coffee in hand, and digest both until around 10:00 a.m. This would be followed by two hours of work before he left for a long lunch. 

When the Vice President position was announced, he assumed he would be selected and made no secret of the fact that we would all soon be reporting to him.

At that time, in addition to my day-to-day responsibilities, I had 14 major projects to complete. He had two. 

To further complicate matters, I had a small stroke three weeks before the Vice-Presidential selected candidate was to be announced. I stayed in the hospital for eight days and then, I returned to work. I had to, I explained to my husband, I wasn’t going to let years of hard work be discarded by a medical issue. He wasn’t happy, but he understood me. 

I came back to work, basically daring the current Vice President to pass me over for the promotion. He didn’t. I got promoted to Vice President, and now, Mr. Good Old Boy reported to me. He was not happy. He petitioned to continue to report to the past Vice President and was refused.

There was an important project coming up that would streamline our department and increase our efficiency. I decided to even the years of me doing most of the projects and him skating without any. I gave him tasks associated with the upgrade and informed him of the tight deadlines and updates I wanted.

He met the deadlines and updates. I was amazed. He didn’t seem to be doing any extra work, but things were getting done. After some investigation, it became crystal clear to me that he was delegating the majority of the project to his subordinates. I was livid.

I called him into my office, closed the door, and let him have it. “How dare you delegate this project,” I demanded. “I told you what I wanted you to do. I did not tell you to delegate it to your subordinates.” 

We were both red-faced, nose-to-nose, and very, very angry. “What’s the problem?” He demanded. “This is how guys do it. Men delegate, women do.” 

I was sputtering mad at this point. “Not when they report to me,” I told him.

He went on, “Do you think I would give a project that is this important to someone who couldn’t do it? Do you think I wouldn’t be paying attention to what they did and how they did it? Do you think I wasn’t teaching them what to do?” 

I have to admit, his comments made me pause. He continued, “Did I miss any deadlines? Did I ignore my day-to-day responsibilities? Is the project going the way you wanted it to go?”

I stepped back. He was right. He didn’t miss any deadlines, and the project was on target. His department was running as it should be, so nothing was being sacrificed for the project.

“Jan,” he said, “women think they have to do everything. They don’t. They have to have confidence in their subordinates that things will get done.”

I was still angry. But this time, I was angry at myself. I was so preoccupied with settling the score, I forgot that I had a competent manager working for me. 

Years have passed, I changed jobs, but I remembered I didn’t have to do it all, as long as I had a good team. I learned to delegate.

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About the Contributor
Jan Morgan-Swegle is the Editor of Cape Fear Voices.  She has been writing for CFV for almost 3 years.  She is originally from the Cleveland area and moved down to Leland 12 years ago.  She and her husband, Tony, and their dog, Dixie, enjoy sitting on the lanai listening to music and sharing wine (Dixie likes white wine but only gets two finger tips full!!)  They have 3 children and 9 grandchildren living in Cleveland, Ohio,  Charlotte, North Carolina and Lakeland, Florida.

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