the blog Synergy

Friday, June 16, 2006

“Please, do disappoint us.”

I was compelled to share a story with all of you in light of Trevor’s plea that we “focus on people, not programmes.”

I sat in on a managers’ meeting today in a client’s corporate headquarters, something that periodically will happen for me in light of my long-standing tenure with this company as their coach; at this point of our partnership they are quite accustomed to my presence, and will not curtail their business discussions when I’m there. I was therefore privy to a conversation in which a manager tried to explain why his staff would be working into the evening and possibly the coming weekend (It’s Friday evening as I write this).

His department leader challenged him to explain why that would be necessary, and he did.

His department is critically short-staffed right now, and he was very forthright in admitting that they were currently working “near crisis mode.” When he was asked if he was turning away, or failing to capitalize on any business prospects, he admitted that it was happening on an almost daily basis.

This manager is not a tyrant. The rest of us could see that the conversation pained him greatly, and it is quite a testament to the extraordinary atmosphere of this workplace that such discussions can be had so openly. He took full responsibility for the state of affairs he spoke of, and at one point he spoke of how very proud he was of his staff’s work ethic and ownership of the situation at hand, for they had volunteered for the extra duty on their own time.

The specific reason he gave for his team needing to work through the weekend, even though they did not expect to have any customer concerns arise then?

“The next quarter’s budget forecast is due next week, and we haven’t even started on it yet. As you all know, our non-performance will create a domino effect for the rest of you, and we hate to disappoint.”
His team leader’s response?

“Please, do disappoint us. The budget is a task that pales in comparison to the spirit of your people. We will gladly extend that deadline and any others that are standing in the way of your staff having a good life while they work for us. There is nothing more important than the morale and well-being of our ‘ohana in business here. Give them the weekend off, and have them go home this afternoon at the normal time.”
Wow. I was so proud of her.

In my business, we can choose our customers. At that moment, I was absolutely thrilled with the choice I had made to coach that organization, for they honor their people, and in doing so they manage with aloha.


  • At 4:23 AM, Blogger Phil Gerbyshak said…

    Wow, this is quite a story Rosa. It's so exciting to hear that a company, ANY company, would actually say that things can wait, but people must be taken care of, and then actually allow that to happen. Is this company interested in hiring and moving anyone from Milwaukee? WOW!

  • At 12:20 PM, Blogger Rosa Say said…

    The cool thing Phil, is that this CAN happen in Milwaukee; AND in Melbourne, in Madrid, in New York and Toronto --- everywhere. People make this happen; not location, and not profitable businesses over struggling ones. People with aloha AND with business savvy make this happen for all of us.

    The best thing about this story is that it is 100% true: I wrote down every word verbatim as it happened.

    And an update: I just called the manager concerned to tell him how much I admired his honesty with his team of peers. He said they all clocked out on time yesterday afternoon, and all are taking the weekend off "as planned." He is looking forward to his Father's Day tomorrow, and ended our call saying, "then on Monday, I eagerly jump back into the fire with this company I admire and respect. We'll be just fine, it's just another speedbump."

  • At 6:53 PM, Blogger Steve Sherlock said…

    Great story, Rosa! Many they have many more speed bumps like this. The attitude of the people reinforced by such good management will flatten all speed bumps for sure.


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