A Manager’s Speech

Hank surveyed the floor, timecards in hand, shaking his head. “I don’t understand it,” he observed. “They know they are supposed to be here at 8:00a sharp, but, look at this, only two people punched in on time. The next nearest one is 8:06, then 8:09, then 8:12. A couple of people were 20 minutes late. And it’s this way everyday. So, everyday, I have to make my little speech, but it just doesn’t seem to work.”

“And you know this just by reviewing the time cards?” I asked.

“Of course, that’s why we have punch clocks.” Hank looked sideways at me, wondering if I had never seen a punch clock before.

“I understand, but you didn’t actually see when they got here.”

“Oh, no, I don’t have to be here until 8:30a when my manager’s meeting upstairs starts. I’m a supervisor now, I don’t have to be here until then.”

“And, your team doesn’t listen to your daily speech about being here on time?”

“Nope, I will remind them again this afternoon before the shift is over, just to make sure they remember,” Hank replied confidently.

“Here is the thing, Hank. Sometimes, what we do speaks so loudly, they can’t hear what we say.” -Tom

2 thoughts on “A Manager’s Speech

  1. Aaron M

    Tom – Long time reader, first time responder.

    The example provided leaves me completing the sentence “…so Hank, get there before 8:00 and set an example for the team”. But I would like to offer this alternative perspective:

    Arriving at the office at 7:45 AM to be the timekeeper may end up solving the punctuality problem through strict supervision, but Hank could both set an example for this employees _and_ get to work at 8:30 AM if he ensures his team is aligned with “why”. (He might also consider how critical an 8:00 AM start time is, but I’ll accept that it is critical for whatever reason.)

    Hank arrives on-time for his Manager’s meeting. From what we learn in the fable, his responsibility to his customer is punctual attendance at that meeting. Hank could replace his next “speech” to team with a discussion about why 8:00 AM punctuality is important. Perhaps there is a call log that shows long customer wait times, data processing backlogs, or some other metric. Perhaps there is a teammate who is always early who is overburden by the lack of punctuality. Perhaps the production line cannot begin until the last person arrives.

    Consider the fable if “punctuality” was replaced with “data accuracy”. Hank _could_ process their forms perfectly as a example to his team, but he could also be as effective by ensuring that his reports, and the feedback, emails, and work products he produces that his team sees, are just as error-free as the work he expects them to produce. That is leadership by example as well.

    I submit that a workforce that cannot be effective without a supervisor physically monitoring them will struggle mightily to keep up with motivated teams operating with a unified sense of purpose towards a common goal.

    AM, Fort Worth


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