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FRANK BROWN — Bosses, can you weather the storm?



As snow accumulated on the street in front of my house on a recent Tuesday morning, I thoughtfully evaluated the situation.

According to local news outlets, Twitter and Facebook, the mayhem guy had taken over, causing a variety of traffic accidents along the path to my downtown office.

I’ve made my share of dumb decisions in life, but the prospects of dancing with 18-wheelers on an icy Interstate 55 south of Jackson didn’t seem too smart.

As the accumulation grew, I decided I could do any major work from home. The remainder could wait until the great thaw.

“Stay home,” was the simple text message reply from my boss, who had already arrived at the office from the balmy northern suburbs.

So I did.

I was fortunate.

But as businesses closed, it created a domino effect. For example, when my granddaughter’s daycare closed, my daughter had to stay home to care for her. Meetings scheduled for her office would go on without her.

But it was a few days later, during my monthly haircut appointment, I learned of another impact of the snowy day.

The woman who cuts my hair works part-time on Saturdays, but has a full-time job as an administrative assistant and receptionist in a busy North Jackson office during the week. When the ice and snow fell, she too stayed tucked away in her southern Hinds County home, and her two supervisors decided they would do her essential duties for the day.

You can probably guess how that went. Crisis management quickly became managers in crisis.

It resembled Undercover Boss with out the reality TV cameras.

And, the next day, there was an Undercover Boss-like payoff. Her supervisors determined she had too many duties, and shifted some of her responsibilities to others in the office.

Her situation is common today in a world where many businesses try to do more with less. The uncommon aspect of her story is how her supervisors had the awareness to realize changes were needed.

I once worked in an office where a caller with a problem told my co-worker that he wanted to talk to the head of the company.

“Sir, do you want to talk to the person in charge,” she replied, “or would you rather talk to the person who knows what’s going on?”

Bosses, which are you?

» Frank Brown is a staff writer and special projects coordinator at the Mississippi Business Journal.


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