Kathleen was here until 8pm again

March 26 Karen Burns of U.S. News has been publishing a fascinating series of ‘seven things’ employees should never tell their bosses, and vice versa. I can really relate to the latter list since, well, I’m a boss (note to the FBI: I’m the usual kind. Not a crime boss).

Anyway, a couple of the no-no’s struck home both from a Peppercom and previous workplace/client perspective. To wit:

  • Number three: ‘I was here on Saturday. Where were you?’ In Peppercom’s youth, we employed a senior manager who was simultaneously a talkaholic and workaholic. Sadly, the former condition served as a catalyst for the latter. When Kathleen wasn’t on the phone all day long chit chatting to anyone and everyone, she’d be holding endless meetings that were notorious for endless tangents. As a result, she never really got down to doing any work until 5pm. And, that’s what caused the problem. Because Kathleen didn’t get her work completed until 8pm or so, her direct reports felt obligated to stick around as well. And, because her office was the last work space one passed before making it to the elevators, it was impossible to slip by unnoticed. Even I started treading lightly as I’d tip toe past her office at 5:30ish, knowing that I’d get a withering glance of disapproval from her. It got so bad that we had to stage an intervention. Our consultant at the time had to sit down with Kathleen, show her how inefficient her work style was and force her to change it so that she, and our employees, could leave at a decent hour.
  • Number five is also classic. ‘We’ve always done it this way’ has been the mantra of several former clients and employers alike. General Motors was famous for rejecting any idea that ‘wasn’t invented here.’ And, the Brouillard CEO I reported to reveled in the rigorous systems and processes he’d honed in the 1960s. He pooh-poohed virtually every new idea including, ‘That Internet thing David keeps pushing me to do. It’s just another hula-hoop,’ he’d say to me. ‘Shut it down.’ Needless to say, the CEO is long gone, David’s doing well and, unless I’m mistaken, the Internet is still around.

How about you? Do you have any particular favorites on this list you’d like to share? I’m all ears (which is one thing I always say to my employees).’

Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea behind this post.

4 thoughts on “Kathleen was here until 8pm again

  1. To this point, look at some countries where people work about 3/4 of the year or less! Australia would be a good example. My cousin takes three week vacations at a time.

  2. I totally agree, Lovely Rita. Sometimes, we take our eye off the ball from a managerial standpoint and do a poor job in communicating that message to our employees. All work and no play makes Jack, Lovely Rita or anyone else a dull (and burnt out) person.

  3. One comment I used to hear, “Hard work never killed anyone.” Really? Tell that to the Japanese businessmen who are dropping dead from heart attacks because they haven’t found a healthy work/life balance. Workaholism is a disease; it should not be encouraged. It ruins families, relationships, and lives. Even though technology has made employees available 24/7, it doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to turn off our blackberries. A burnt-out employee is not productive.