The Disintegration Of The Owner-Manager Relationship

There comes a time when all of us must face the grim yet daunting task of divesting ourselves of a friendship, once unassailable, in favor of a new and invigorating relationship ignited with passion and endless, yet-to-be-determined possibilities. This is no easy choice, and there is no unequivocally guaranteed outcome.

Columns From: 4/1/2001 Modern Machine Shop,

There comes a time when all of us must face the grim yet daunting task of divesting ourselves of a friendship, once unassailable, in favor of a new and invigorating relationship ignited with passion and endless, yet-to-be-determined possibilities.

This is no easy choice, and there is no unequivocally guaranteed outcome.

The heart leaps with every new discovery and contracts with every new scrutiny. The familiar ways of the old relationship gradually give way to the mysterious and sometimes enigmatic allurement of the new-sprung alliance. The past association dismantles, disintegrates and dissipates, leaving only disparate and disjointed fragments on the topography of the newly fashioned, all-empowering affiliation.

And you feel marvelous.

You have left behind the fractured ways of doing business as usual and have ventured out into the uncharted swirling reservoir of a newfound liaison. And you are hopeful, delirious with anticipation and calmed by the extended hand of your new partner.

A love affair? Absolutely! An opportunity? Unquestionably! A future? Positively! Then why all the jitters?

Unlike love affairs, business adventures exist in the real world. Affairs of the heart are heavenly, marked by the extended embrace of promises proffered. Affairs of business are earthly, circumscribed by the firm handshake of promises-in-the-making. Both can send you reeling.

Machine shop owners and their managers are often juxtaposed in a symbiotic relationship that commences as a love affair and, all too often, descends into the cauldron of disenchantment until it dissolves rapidly into bitterness. In such situations, managers often describe themselves as the “fall guy,” the “scapegoat” or the “last to know.”

This self-delusion is the manager’s misperception of the real situation. Without realizing the fragility of the initial hiring contract, the manager was locked into a shotgun marriage with the owner whose only concern was to preserve the estate (read: the shop) through a forced, yet agreed upon arrangement. In other words, there was no love (read: support) between them in the first place. The manager was simply fulfilling the need of the owner to keep the shop running at any price. And the owner was simply fulfilling the need of the manager to keep up appearances. The marriage was no heavenly arrangement.

The disintegration of the owner-manager relationship was doomed from the very beginning because there was only a semblance of feigned trust and not an iota of goodwill. The manager was taken in by the promise of a “free hand” in daily operations, and the owner was able to “save face” by blaming the manager for failure to perform. Both lost stature and integrity.

It is very easy to be bewildered in a work-world of distractions. It is equally frustrating to remain in an intolerable situation knowing full well that the arrangement is not likely to change. And so, you move on.

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