Q. As soon as one of our union employees made it through his probationary period, he began having serious attendance problems, particularly on Fridays and Mondays. I counseled him multiple times. He always had an excuse and I could also tell he didn't take me seriously because he felt his union status protected his job.
Something he said about an accidental gunshot wound that kept him out of work for a week made me curious and I looked him up on CourtView. I discovered he had a warrant for failure to appear in court for weapons misconduct while intoxicated.
I called the police, asked them about the warrant and learned they'd arrest him if they knew where he was but he hadn't been to his apartment. I told them he worked for me and when his next shift started.
The next day, the police arrested him. On his return to work a week later, I was called into a meeting with the employee, his union representative and the Employee Relations representative. When the union representative hotly asked how the police knew where to find the employee, I admitted I'd let the police know and had told them about the employee's attendance problems. This infuriated the ER representative, who told me I'd been out of line and had created a potential grievance issue.
My manager later told me the ER rep thinks I deserve discipline for telling the police about the employee's attendance record. I'm up for a promotion and don't want to make waves.
Was I in the wrong?
A. You more than made waves, you rocked the boat.
Were you wrong? No. As soon as you learned about the outstanding arrest warrant, you had a citizen's obligation to let the police know where to find your employee. Unions and employee relations exist to protect employees' rights, not to harbor them from criminal prosecution. Finally, unless it directly related to the police's need to know, you could have kept the employee's attendance information to yourself.
Q. I manage a mid-sized company. While I'm years away from retiring, several of my fellow partners plan to retire in the next several years and we're grooming several potential new leaders.
One of the best and the brightest can't get along with another key manager in the company. When I first investigated the situation, I laid most of the problem at the feet of the key manager because he lacked leadership skills, reacted defensively to differences of opinion and didn't try hard enough to reach a win-win resolution when others brought him problems.
I brought them into my office and told them both to grow up and get along. Even though I talked to both, all three of us knew the individual most to blame was the manager.
Since then, the high-strung manager, having taken what I said seriously, changed greatly.
Despite this, problems between these two continued. When I now assess it, I realize the "best and brightest" potential leader has an arrogance that leads him to think he's pretty special. He told me point blank because he gets along with most people but not the other manager, the problem must be the other manager. How do I get across to this potential leader he too needs to change?
A. All of us enjoy blaming the other person -- it lets us off the hook. However, when problems persist, we have to turn our pointing finger back toward ourselves, because we can only change ourselves.
Let Mr. Arrogance know no matter how perfect he is, if he wants to lead a company, he needs to work effectively with all types of individuals even reactive, defensive individuals. In other words, even if someone else "is the problem," it's his problem -- and one he needs to learn to handle.
Meanwhile, the manager you thought lacked leadership totally stepped to the plate.
If this continues, you need to rethink who's the best and brightest.
Dr. Lynne Curry is a management-employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Co. Inc. For questions, Curry can be reached at thegrowthcompany.com.