What does the movie Back to the Future, the actor Chevy Chase, the singer Madonna, and the quintessential beauty staple, Aqua Net, all have in common? They were all icons of the year 1985! What do I have in common with 1985? In addition to being a fan of these icons, it was also a trailblazing year for me, too. It was the year I graduated high school, purchased my first car (a 1978 Monte Carlo Landau), and landed my first job!
I worked for an office/accounting temp agency in downtown Akron and my first assignment was at a bank. In high school, I took the 2-year Intensive Office Education Program which included accounting and stenography (shorthand). I was so excited to apply these skills in the working world! Here I am, a young girl in the big city! I was feeling a little Mary Tyler Moore-ish! No, I did not walk down Main Street and throw my hat up in the air like Mary- but I thought about it! (For those who may not know, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a television hit from the 70’s and well worth checking out on YouTube.)
The job required answering the phone, directing visitors, filing and of course, typing. Anyone that has worked on an electric typewriter knows, not all typewriters were created equal! A gentleman came up to my desk and asked if I could type a letter for him. “Absolutely!”, I said with enthusiasm. He decided to stand there and wait while I completed it. A bit nerve wracking, but all good. Soon, another gentleman joined him, and they started a conversation.
The letter took me longer than I (or he) expected. At this point, my fingers were visibly shaking with each key stroke. Then, the dreaded typo happens! (Did I mention I am not perfect?) Liquid Wite-Out was great, but if not used correctly, it was much more evident than the mistake you were correcting. After restarting the letter, I had another issue with the typewriter. I apologized for the delay. He then looked to the gentleman standing to his left and said, “It doesn’t help when the typewriter is smarter than you.” That stuck with me for a while – 37 years! And that, my friends, became my first lesson on the type (no pun intended) of team member/leader I would aspire NOT to be!
After completing the bank assignment, I received a call for another temp position. The job was typing year-end filing labels for accounts payable at Babcox. Eventually, I was hired on full time in accounts payable, later promoted to Accounting Supervisor and then to Controller in 2005. This year, I am celebrating my 37th anniversary with Babcox!
When promoted to Controller, I was in a unique position. I became the manager of my accounting team members. Though in a leadership position, I treated them as equals which solidified our department and maximized productivity. Listed below are the core values that I incorporated to create an efficient work environment where empowerment can thrive:
- Treat others with respect, compassion, and empathy. No one thrives on feeling inferior.
- Pour knowledge into your team. I would not have the knowledge I have today without other Babcox team members, both past and present, investing their time in me.
- Build trust.
- Be positive!
- Include others in decision making.
- Listen more than you speak.
- When issues arise, look at the process first, not the person.
- Do not micro-manage. If you need to micro-manage, there is an issue!
- Show appreciation.
- Be someone your team wants to go to for advice, whether business or personal.
- ALWAYS be humble and kind.
Now, back to 1985. Did I finish the letter? Yes. Did I cry the whole way home? Yes. Did I go back the next day? Yes. Did he apologize? No. Did I forgive him? Yes. Did I forget how he made me feel? No. Did I thrive? YES!
Here’s to all you thriving team members/leaders making a difference today! Leadership is a privilege and I challenge all of you to be the type of leader/friend you would want to work for every day!
Beth Scheetz,Controller, Babcox Media
Beth Scheetz joined Babcox Media in 1985. Over the years, she has held a variety of accounting positions before being named Controller in 2005 and appointed to the Executive Leadership Team in 2015. Scheetz is responsible for a variety of corporate operational functions with primary responsibility for financial planning and accounting management.
Contact Beth at [email protected]