Early this past week, I was having a conversation with a friend. My friend is a manager of a rather large department within the organization he works for. We were talking about how things were going and he told me that he was having an issue on how to address a problem with a member of the staff that he is responsible for.
Long story short: The employee has a problem doing his job. He completes his assignments but instead of putting 100% effort into it, he gives 80% in everything he does. Then the employee has a tendency to do extra work for members of other departments. While the employee’s primary work does not actually suffer it just isn’t to the level the manager was expecting. The manager, my friend, expects that the employee commit to the department he works for and keep outside work to a minimum especially from 8 to 5 and wants to really do what he can to get the employee back on track. The manager then told me about an incident that occurred a week prior.
It was one of those days that key individuals were going to be out for some reason or another. The employee was the first one to be scheduled to be out on Monday. Another co-worker had an emergency at home that carried over from the previous week and a third co-worker was coming in at noon due to a personal reason. The employee in question telephoned the manager, bright and early on Monday morning and offered to come in, on his scheduled day off, because of the others not being available. The manager while shocked to receive this very considerate phone call told the employee that he was originally scheduled to be off, he should not worry, go about his business, and everything would be fine.
The dilemma that my friend had was that how could he counsel the employee about his work ethic, commitment to his work, and minimize the need to do work for other individuals from different department after receiving such an unselfish, “do it for the team” phone call?
I offered this scenario to help guide my friend:
Congratulations you have just won a store raffle. The payout is one brand new SUV with the works (DVD player, Surround sound, individual viewing stations, GPS navigation, on call phone support, seat warmers, you name it its in there) and a year’s worth of gasoline at your disposal. After paying the taxes that SUV is yours. You have never had a vehicle that was yours outright, without having to finance it. You are one happy camper.
Then one day soon after you get your brand new SUV in your driveway the check engine light comes on. You are worried, as you are about call your local dealer to get the SUV in to be looked at, the check engine light turns off. All is good with the world. The horn works, all the lights turn off and on. The vehicle starts with no problem; the on-board Satellite TV still gets video and the surround sound plays your favorite tunes as if you were right there in the recording studio.
So you forget about that minor incident and for the next month or so all is good until the Check Engine light comes on, again. This time you are cruising down a highway and there is no sign of civilization for at least another 20 minutes or so. Then just as you enter the next town the light mysteriously turns off. For the next couple of months this same scenario repeats itself, light on and light off. When that light comes on you stress about what it might or might not be and when it turns off you feel fine, so you live with it as the light is off longer than it is on, thus so long as the car keeps moving everything is good.
Deep in the back of your mind you know there is a reason the light keeps turning on. In the end, that issue will have to be addressed before the Check Engine light stays on and you find yourself stranded miles from nowhere.
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• Dave Guerra • Leadership • Leading • Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way • Check Engine Light • Something wrong • Manager • Employee • Work for others • Do it for the team • Give to the American Red Cross • Hire A Hero