• Mike Burke

Have you ever had a personal life-changing event happen to you?

During that time, was there someone that, through their actions, made you feel that they cared about you and what you were going through?

Did that help strengthen the bond between you and them?

We all know that caring about your employees differentiates how employees feel about their managers.

Employees always go the extra distance for managers that they feel care about them.

I learned this firsthand when I lost my father. I was devastated and took it hard.

Most everyone at work was sympathetic, and the company sent flowers to the funeral.

I still remember after almost 30 years the faces of the other managers that showed up.

It meant so much to me.

Whenever one of my employees lost a loved one, I always tried to make it to the service whenever possible.

And it wasn’t just funerals.

I can’t tell you how many weddings, graduations, arrivals of new babies I tried to attend.

Going to these events sometimes was uncomfortable, because I would run into a past employee that let’s say wasn’t crazy about me.

There were plenty of times that I didn’t want to go, but I forced myself whenever I was feeling this way.

In 2013 I was a division manager of a facility that had a work stoppage or better known a strike.

It was always brutal driving through the picket line, so much so that we needed eight armed police officers operating the gates.

The fact that I was in charge, as I went through the line, I heard the most offensive language and threats you can imagine.

The strike finally ended after six long weeks.

I decided I need to put the past behind and be as favorable toward the men and woman that were screaming profanity at me only day’s earlier.

I held face to face meetings with them, and it wasn’t even close to perfect, but the healing process started.

Then one of my former striker’s mother died of a heart attack.

Everyone thought I was crazy, maybe even myself, for going to the viewing.

When I walked through the door, I saw a long line of people showing their respect.

A couple of them weren’t happy. I was there and gave me the evil eye.

But check this out.

When I got to Tommy, whose mother died, his eyes lit up, and he got the biggest smile.

He said, “Mike, there’s someone I want you to meet,” and he grabbed my arm and took me to his dad, who was sitting down.

He said, “dad, this is Mike; he’s the big boss back at work.”

I sat down and talked to him for a long time.

He turned out to be from the same small town in Italy as my grandfather.

Crazy Hugh?

A couple of weeks later, I was walking in the warehouse, and I saw Tommy working.

As I walked toward him, one of the guys that still had the strike in his head said something nasty to me.

Tommy got up in his face and said to his union brother, “shut up he’s a good guy, leave him alone.”

I got to tell you; there was a real bond between Tommy and me after that.

So much so that I still get emotional thinking about it to this very day.

©2020 by Mike Burke Management.