Research some time ago found that successful managers left behind a trail of friends not enemies. This article concerns some of my work associates—both friend and foe.

Research some time ago found that successful managers left behind a trail of friends not enemies. This article concerns some of my work associates—both friend and foe.

Sam

In a former life I was a professional real estate appraiser working for the Right of Way Division of the Oklahoma Department Highways valuing real estate to be taken to widen existing two-lane highways and build the new Interstate Highway System [I-44, I-35, I-40]. In the deep woods of southeastern Oklahoma I worked with Sam who was supposed to help me but strangely never showed up. Weeks later we learned he had been foolishly negotiating to lease a summer resort closed for the Winter. It turned out he was in the midst of a mental breakdown causing him to be hospitalized. He recovered and enjoyed a lifetime job as an independent appraiser in OKC as did my other colleagues except for one who died in an automobile accident. [A high rise west of Integris Hospital in OKC was named for him.] Be cautious saying a fellow employee is ‘off his meds.’ He may be!

Dr. Brown

One of our staff physicians at Stillwater Municipal Hospital was having difficulty with his clinic’s accounts receivable and I offered to help his office staff with the problem. He rejected my offer and was forever unfriendly toward me because I had the temerity to think that he an M.D. could learn anything from me. Truth is, physicians learn little outside of medical knowledge in medical school and should not be seen as experts in all knowledge. Washington officials often assume the universal transferability of expertise between work fields.

Robert

OU Hospital hired a new Administrator and I applied for an Assistant position when he assembled his new staff. When I came for my interview he kept me waiting I think to make some type of statement to me. When he entered his palatial office he came holding his sports coat slung over one shoulder assuming a theatrical appearance. He said that “I’m going to look around and check things out for a year and then I will make some small changes as needed.” Well, the place was then in dire straits reaching crisis proportions long before his year of inaction ended. Clearly, managers have to understand the organization’s situation better than that. He needed to hit the ground running, not sitting. He went back to school for a D.Ph. degree and was never heard from again in the field.

Jeff

A team of us worked together at the University of Michigan in a three-year research project funded by the federal government. They also funded a sort of secretary sent from Washington to attend meetings of our research team. He would then send back his minutes, I would correct them, return them, and this kept up until he got them right. He really didn’t understand the theory or statistics involved and his notes were mostly mine.

Shortly following the end of our project I saw an article in the Journal of Mental Health Administration [JMHA] that at first pleasantly surprised me: it was right on our topic! I wasn’t far into reading it until I realized it wasn’t like our work—it WAS our work. He had published my notes under his name. I was in his home in Bethesda once. He is the only guy I ever met who could deduct his kitchen on his tax return. His wife taught a cooking class using their kitchen. I knew the editor of the JMHA and told him about Jeff’s plagiarism but he said there was nothing he could do about it then. I never heard of this crook again. I did learn that being in academe and having a Ph.D. doesn’t guarantee integrity.

Tony

Tony was Director of the MHSA [Master of Health Services Administration] at New York University. He offered me a faculty position there which I turned down for two reasons. First, the Washington Square area of NYC is no place to raise a family. Second, He wanted me to do research with him meaning I would do the research and we would submit it for publication putting his name first on the manuscript. Same lesson as Jeff. There is a lot of that kind of thing going on in academe.

Subordinates

My boss when I began in the field at Stillwater Municipal Hospital [SMH] was a Baptist Minister. [SMH was then leased by the City to the Baptist General convention of Oklahoma.] He taught me to never travel alone with a female employee or to close my office door when one came to see me. I always followed his advice causing me to have to go on trips with him and a female employee solely to keep that rule. Since then two of my pastors and numerous elected officials have broken that rule and their marriages.

Once I fired a female employee who afterword came into my office, closed the door behind her, leaned over my desk and intently staring me in the eye said, “I will do ANYthing to keep my job.” I didn’t reply as I walked around my desk to open the door to show her out. My thoughts then? Rev. David Foster back in SMH.

Et Al

My co-workers for almost forty years were uniformly persons of integrity and helpfulness to me. I can truly report that I left behind friends, good folks.