Knock, Knock

by Adam
(Pittsburgh, PA)

“Adam,” The phone intercom buzzed into life and I could hear the voice of my boss Bill on the line. “Could you come back and see me for a moment.”

“Sure, I’ll be there in just a moment, want to finish this email I’m working on before I lose my train of thought.” I replied.

“Sounds good, see you in a moment.” He replied, then the intercom went silent. I mechanically typed out the rest of the email I was sending over to our outsourced lab in China. There had been a mix-up of some dental impressions we had sent over an after a bit of research I had figured out what had happened and was emailing them the instructions on how to handle the cases.

I wondered what Bill could want, there were not any major issues that had come up over the past week, so I was fairly sure I wasn’t in some sort of trouble. Our numbers looked good, over 750 cases came through my department last week alone, up 20% from the previous year. All kinds of possibilities pulsed through my mind as I hit the send button and got up from my desk. Maybe a Dr. called in and complained about something, or maybe we were going to be offering a new product or something. The possibilities were endless.

I made my way down the hall towards Bill’s office. I worked in the International department of a dental lab. There was a full scale in house lab located on the premise and my department sat all the way at the end of the building, about as far away from anything else. The hall that led down to my area opened into the sales room, where the guys made cold calls trying to interest new Dr.’s into using our lab. I waved politely as I passed. I reached Bill’s office and knocked on the door.

“Come in.” I heard him say slightly muted by the closed door. I opened the door and walked inside. Bill is a bit of a golf nut, and he was in his office practicing his putting off on the side of the room. By the position of the balls near the cup at the end of the 4 foot strip I guess he could use the practice.

“Hey Bill, what can I do for you?” I asked after I closed the door behind me.

“Sit down Adam, just want to have a chat with you.” He replied as he lined up his last putt. It dribbled down the Astroturf strip and hit the edge of the cup and rolled out. “Ouch, been off my game today.” He said as he set the putter aside and walked over to his desk where I had taken a seat. I smiled.

“We all have those days.” I said as he took his seat across from me. He returned the gesture and pulled out a folder from under a paperweight.

“Okay, down to business. I have noticed that the situation report for your department has been rather empty lately.” He said as he thumbed through the documents in the folder. The situation report was something we filled out anytime we had an issue that required some special action, whether it be having to ship something next day air for a doctor to receive it on time due to a delay in production or from human error, or any other type of mishap that may occur that is outside of the routine.

“Well we haven’t had many problems here lately, everything is running rather smoothly. With the new checks I put into place before we send stuff out and me double checking all of the inventory lists before I sign off on them we managed to eliminate most of the delays that were happening before. They aren’t completely gone, but I’d say we managed to catch most things before it becomes a problem.”

I had gone over most of these changes with him before I implemented them and smiled inwardly at how well they had worked. Before we would have issues arise at least every other day, and now we were surprised if we got one a week. A few things were out of our hands like delays in UPS transit and other factors like that but those were out of our control.

“Yes, it does seem that they worked very well, better than I had thought they would. That’s partially what I wanted to talk to you about.” He said, still without looking up from his reports. I am thinking about changing your role in the company.” I stopped the reply I had preformed about a few other ideas I had thought up to increase our efficiency and just stared at him for a moment. I had just got my department working like a well oiled machine and now he wanted to move me out?

“What did you have in mind?” I said after a moment of silence. “I’m not really qualified to do a lot of the technical work here in the lab.”

“No, no nothing like that.” He said with a slight grin on his face as he looked up at me. “I was thinking more along the lines of Manager of Operations.” He sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers in front of him. “I am impressed with the way you have turned that department around and how smoothly things run back there now, I want to know if you could work that kind of magic with the rest of the place. It doesn’t require complete knowledge of the technical side of things, just root out communication errors between departments and find ways to make things more efficient.”

“Wow” I said, not knowing how to respond to something like that. “I certainly would love to have that kind of opportunity.”

“I provide opportunities to those who make it for themselves. You’ve shown the ability and the drive needed for something like this. The results speak for themselves. Of course with this kind of promotion we would be talking about more money.” That part hadn’t really even occurred to me during the last moments of our conversation. Of course that would be more money, and that was something I really needed. With the 3 kids and the wife at home money was always tight. Our car was running on it’s last legs and there was always something the kids needed whether it be clothes or shoes or something along those lines.

“How much more?” I said cautiously, not really thinking about how greedy that sounded until after it was out of my mouth. He chuckled.
“A LOT more” he said. “I’m going to double your salary right now to start, and we’ll talk about some performance goals on Monday that I will set that could lead you to more money as well. I’m convinced you can easily be making 3 times what your making now by the end of the year if you handle this right. This won’t be easy, you’ll have to adapt to this role quickly, there is no honeymoon period.” He said getting a little serious towards the end. Bill was a man who appreciated results and effort, and expected both.

“No, of course not.” I said still shell shocked at the whole ordeal. “I’m grateful for this opportunity and won’t let you down.” I said.

“You’ll start it on Monday, meet me back here first thing in the morning and we’ll plan on a 2 hour meeting to go over some specific hot spots I want you to concentrate on first. You’re going to be my right hand here in the lab and that will allow me to concentrate on other business ventures I have planned for the future. Don’t let me down.” He said as he rose up out of his chair offering me his hand.

“I won’t Sir.” I said as I took his proffered hand and shook it energetically. “You won’t regret this in the slightest.”

“I know I won’t.” He said as he led me towards the door. “Now you go home this weekend and celebrate with your wife, but don’t party too hard, I want you bright and bushy-tailed come Monday.” He said laughing.

“You got it Sir.” I replied as I exited the office. I heard the door shut behind me and the next thing I knew I was back at my desk having floated the whole way there. I looked at the clock and it was 5pm, time to go home. I shut down my PC and grabbed my coat. My time had finally come and I was going to make the most of this opportunity. Monday couldn’t come fast enough.

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