Merry Parisotto is what you would call a servant leader. When she’s not helping her team streamline challenging processes as the Senior Sales Operations Manager at Genie, you can find her greeting new faces in the Terex brand’s Washington headquarters.
Besides her social spirit and natural likability, her reason for embracing this leadership style is one all leaders can learn from: “I like to ‘know’ everyone and introduce myself to those who I haven’t seen before, offering to help them with questions about the company,” she says. “This curiosity has given me opportunities within Terex in the past because people know me and the work I do.”
Not only does her accessibility help her foster a thriving team, it also helps her get the most out of her long-standing career at the manufacturing company: “I think my curiosity about the people and processes in my work environment have allowed me to build cross-functional relationships that assist me when trying to get things accomplished.”
We recently spoke to Parisotto about her No. 1 piece of advice for women looking for ways to be servant leaders in their careers. She also shared with us her favorite thing about working at Genie, as well as company intel that even employees probably don’t know. Check it out below.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’m a bit of an anomaly with my tenure. I’ve worked for Genie, a division of Terex, for just over 20 years, primarily in customer service and sales operations. Previously, I worked for a retailer in varied managerial roles for 15 years.
We know one of Terex values is servant leadership. How do you believe you embody this quality at Terex?
I am very visible and accessible to my team; I try to be on the floor as much as possible supporting them when they have challenges with their tools or processes. I was given significant training on how to look at a process versus the person to help fix problems, and I always refer to this training to help team members solve their issues themselves. They are the process owners and know best what works to improve their standard work, and this creates an environment of empowerment on the team as well.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
When I arrive at the office, I like to walk the floor and try to touch bases with my team, greeting them and checking in with them to see how they are set up for the day. I hope this helps them feel like I’m engaged with them and it allows me to gauge their internal battery levels for the challenges we may encounter throughout the day. At the end of my day, I always check my calendar for my next day meetings to ensure I’m prepped and ready to respond to the agenda if needed.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Terex that you think they should?
Genie started over 50 years ago with a little air powered duct lift built in a garage. We still produce and sell that hoist today. In fact, the sound of the air escaping the machine reminded the inventors of a genie escaping from a bottle — and the TV show “I Dream of Genie” was also very popular at the time. That’s how our company name was created!
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for ways to be a servant leader in their careers?
Be authentic, if you can’t be who you really are, you probably aren’t in the right place and need to make a change. You will be happier for it.
What’s something you’re especially good at work?
I’m a social person, genuinely interested in the people around me. I think my curiosity about the people and processes in my work environment have allowed me to build cross-functional relationships that assist me when trying to get things accomplished. I like to “know” everyone and introduce myself to those who I haven’t seen before, offering to help them with questions about the company. This curiosity has given me opportunities within Terex in the past because people know me and the work I do.
What are you trying to improve on?
I need to put my responsibilities of the day before others a bit more often. I tend to sacrifice my own time, which results in a struggle towards my work-life balance.
What’s your favorite mistake?
I love mistakes! Mistakes test your processes, I always tell my team members not to be discouraged by errors, but that they found a gap in the process and by fixing the gap we prevent the same errors from happening again.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
Gosh, great question! I enjoy the people I work with, we work hard, but we also have a great sense of humor as a team and that makes it enjoyable to be here together. As a manufacturer, I see what we make being used to help people to do their work safely. Also, our company manufactures equipment that is sold all over the world, in turn improving the US economy. A healthy U.S. economy means a healthy life for me and my family, and I love that I contribute to that.
Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
Just out of school, I worked for a company where my father was in management. I used to watch and listen to how he would interact with his team. He was a great teacher, patient, and got them set up for success by giving a little guidance and then telling them he would be back later to check in on how things went for them — he set a few expectations and then left them to do the work. He would also make good on his promise to check back and offer feedback both positive and constructive. I like to think I work the same way today.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
“Hire slowly and fire quickly.” While that may be a bit of an old school philosophy, the underlying message is spend the time on the job description & interview process to make sure you have the right fit for the role and your cultures are aligned. Dragging out the process for a team member that isn’t succeeding in the role is painful for both leadership and the team member. Try to find them a role where they will excel or move them on quickly.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Trust. A good manager will trust you to get the job done, and for me, trust builds respect. I do my best work with leadership that trusts me from the get-go and respects the job I perform.
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