Monday, July 25, 2011

My Faith in the Innate Goodness of People Takes a Hit

I am exhausted right now - and still a little bit in shock, I think - because of today's office experience.  I keep reminding myself that this is a Monday but, even by Monday's standards, this is a day I will never forget.

Let me set the scene for you.  I run a pretty small department for my company - and my key employee is expecting her fourth child.  Knowing that she has had to take early leaves of absence for two of her three children already, I began planning for the blessed September event in March.  I hired a contractor to come in that early to learn every detail of what SR does for me.  The lady I hired is bright, personable, and a very quick study.  She was doing so well that the thought crossed my mind last night that I was in complete control of the situation, that it would be a smooth transition from SR to MB when that time came.

So today I came into the office, after two days off at the end of last week, only to receive a phone call from MB telling me that she had to make an unexpected visit to her doctor and would not be in today.  Thirty minutes later I received a phone call from one of our HR reps to tell me that MB's temp agency had sent someone to the office to immediately begin working on finding a replacement for MB - that she left a message with them on Friday evening about coming in to my office this morning to give me two weeks notice.  They were upset, and it got worse when I told them about her phone call.  We discussed getting someone in as quickly as possible so that SR could squeeze in as much training as possible.

Do you see where this is going?

Yep, at two p.m. I received an email from SR telling me that she was heading straight home from her doctor: she has been restricted to bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy.  Six hours, six measly hours, and my plans were trashed.  I'm still in shock at the irony of losing both women on the same day.  One was expected, but the other should not be happening right now.  The timing was so spectacular that I'm still shaking my head in disbelief.

I have to tell you, too, that my trust in human nature has taken a hit.  MB was hired with the explicit understanding that she would not leave before SR returned.  She knows very well that bailing out on me at this point is a killer that the department cannot possibly recover from - she knows it but does not care one little bit.  And people wonder why companies have less loyalty to the employee than in the old days?  It's a two-way street, MB, and you are driving on the wrong side of that street.  


  1. That is terrible news. I sure hope you can find a quick study who will be dedicated and committed to the job. Hope it all works out for you.

  2. As a manager of about 50 employees- I take that hit daily. Most people only care about their own lives- little else. Times are a-changing

  3. It's really sad, Sam. Luckily not everyone's like that.

  4. I feel for you, I really do. And also agree that people are so unreliable and selfish.I suppose MB has some hodden issues and it may be better off without her.
    My colleague left the company at a moment when there was a hiring stop, knowing exactly that I would stay alone with a 250% workload and that despite the fact that I did everything so she got the position in the first place, trained her and after less than a year she left for no real reason.

  5. I don't think I could have done this to someone who had only hired me because I agreed to stay for a stated minimum of days...but that's me, a bit old-school, I admit.

    Caroline, you know exactly what I mean from the sound of what happened to you...despicable behavior there.

    Nik, you're right, of course, and that's what keeps me going. In fact, I had an outpouring of support today with several offers from people willing to go the extra mile to help my department during this crunch time. That felt good.

    I agree, Anonymous - my problem is that my group is so small that it makes it hard when something like this happens. It's hard to build in redundant talents and job coverage when there are so few of us.

    Shirley, there's no time to re-train a new person; that's the real problem. SR is the only one who knows her job at the level of detail that would let us get someone all trained up to replace her. We wasted our four months of training, and now she's gone, along with the woman she blew all that time on.

  6. That is tacky. I was hired as a temp to write a database and discovered one day in that what the company wanted was far beyond my capabilities. I felt awful - told the company and the temp agency that I could not complete the assignment and I did not want to be paid.

    Then I went home and tried to find them an IT intern from the local college to do the program and taught myself how to do the programming and drafted one for the company.

    I felt terrible that they had hired me to do something and I could not do it. I can't imagine committing to something and then flaking out like that, especially when others are counting on you and when it is so hard to get a job.

  7. I hate to say it, Factotum, but I'm starting to wonder if it's a generational thing...spoken like the genuine old codger I'm turning into.