Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hypothetical Despair

Imagine, if you will, an office with thousands of employees. Just for the sake of argument of course. Now imagine a manager who has been assigned a very specific group of reports. These twenty or so employees have been pulled out specifically to work on this team because they are the company's underperformers. They are not bad enough to fire, and in fact, many of them are quite talented individuals, but they all have had problems in the past. Some do not meet their quotas, others have repeated HR violations, and some just seem totally checked out. This re-assignment is a last ditch effort by the company to save them.

At first, the new team struggles to find its footing. Some of the employees find it very hard to leave bad habits behind, and even with much coaching from their new manager, they still have trouble making the right choices. Some members of the team seem to want to improve, but others continue to make life difficult for everyone. One time, the problems get serious enough that the manager's manager has to step in. However, as time goes by, things do begin to get better. The manager begins to notice glimmers of hope. Decent quality work begins to emerge. They may not be the top-producing team in the company, but they are also not the last. On one project, the team excels to the point where they earn a commendation from above.

To be fair, this purely hypothetical team is not perfect. Some still drop the ball, and allow work to fall through the proverbial cracks. However, the team has certainly improved as a whole, and only a few are still in danger of firing. The manager is especially happy to see that some of the most recalcitrant members of the team are now putting in true effort and working to collaborate constructively with colleagues. Could it be that this team of mis-fits might actually make a true turn-around?

Then one day, this imaginary manager comes to work to discover a huge crowd of officemates. The people are buzzing like a swarm of angry bees. As the story comes out in bits and pieces, the manager discovers that something major happened the day before. It seems that after most people had already left for the day, a small group of employees were escorted from the building by security. They were caught doing something not only against company policy but also illegal.

Most of the employees involved were from a more senior team, but one other person was also caught out. This person was one of the biggest success stories from the manager's "special" team. The manager is horrified. What will happen to the employee? What if others on her team were involved? How could this have happened when he was doing so well?! Why did he have to make such a stupid choice?!! The manager has become virtually frozen by disappointment and disbelief. Hypothetically speaking of course.


Mark said...

Good Lord, it sounds like you had an interesting day at the office, my dear! :)

Anonymous said...

As a non-hypothetical friend, should I hypothetically be worried for you and try to contact you or your hubby to make sure everything is ok?

Hypothetically speaking of course.

Anonymous said...

No, no, I'm fine. I just wish that everyone else was fine too.
Thanks for the concern though :)