You know, I haven't always made the best decisions as a manager, at least not initially. Read this story I have to share with you.

Back in 1988, I was working for a physician billing company. The company was going down; that's an understatement. What was happening is the company top brass thought the business model they had was one that would always exist. However, it was labor intensive, while other companies, newer companies, were coming into the business and using newer computer technology.

The direct result of this is that the company started losing business. Many of our clients in the Syracuse area were moving to other companies whose immediate rates were higher, but they were getting paid quicker and had access to more reports and better reports than we could produce.

So things were tense in the office. I was the highest ranking person in my office; the brass was in another city about 3 hours away. A lot of people's jobs were affected and it was difficult because sometimes I had to base my choices on seniority, sometimes on who was the better worker.

One day things just collapsed. While trying to have a group meeting tensions arose by almost everyone and some of us lost control. Even I lost control, to the point where I was shaking; a very rare event for me. That was a scary day for all, and being the only male in the room, I felt as though I'd totally lost my composure, and wondered if I could get any respect back from the people who worked for me.

That night I did something that's a once in a lifetime event. I went to a Jesse Jackson campaign stop in the area. No matter what people might think of Jesse Jackson now or even then, the one thing no one could take from the man was his power of rallying people together and giving them a feeling that they can accomplish miracles. When he's on, there's no better speaker around.

I went by myself, which was also rare, but I met some people I knew there. I watched as he came out and captured the crowd. It was an amazing feat. I was totally enraptured to the point where if he'd told us to go out and kill the next person we saw I might have done it; well, probably not.

That speech made me feel better and got me thinking about things. That was the year of "keep hope alive", his main phrase, and I thought about that as I went home and thought about the day. I had gone from being upset at work to being depressed to being elated. What a wringer of a day.

The next morning I was at the office early as usual. When certain people came in I decided that I had to talk to them individually. We had devolved into a bickering bunch, and I realize I had handled it incorrectly. Instead of just taking it all on myself, I should have spoken to my supervisors first, got them all lined up, so that I had either some support when I spoke to everyone or, at the very least, knew what the other side of the argument was going to be.

I was able to smooth feathers and things progressed from there. We had another group meeting but this time it was more controlled. I stated truths, and I added things that I'd gotten from the supervisors. For the most part everyone came around, though I still had one person leave within two weeks. The office stabilized, but at least now everyone knew what could be coming and I'd made no promises to any of them. I'd gotten through my first crisis as a manager and didn't duck my responsibility.

Every manager has to be ready to step up to the challenge when it's presented. Every manager also has to know that they might not get it right all the time, but there's always a chance to correct things. I'd built up sweat equity with these people. I'd gotten a lot of them raises, and I'd instituted some policies that were employee friendly. They gave me some slack for having a bad day, and I appreciated it.

And the office ran smoothly, even in the fact of outside dangers. One can't hope for more than that.