Magazine article Supervisory Management

And So to Work ... One Manager's Chronicle of Office Life

Magazine article Supervisory Management

And So to Work ... One Manager's Chronicle of Office Life

Article excerpt

Monday, 9:15 A.M.

I really hope that Fred and Irma will let me finish my coffee and write out these thoughts in peace before one or the other barges in. For a week now they've been fighting with each other, and now the staff is starting to take sides. And why? Because their birthdays fall on the same day - this Wednesday.

We've had a tradition in the company for years that employees can take their birthday off as an extra personal day. It's certainly never been a problem before, and no one even thought there would be a problem when we found out Fred and Irma shared the same birthday. (Irma's been here three years; Fred started seven months ago.) Both Fred and Irma are good workers - two of my best, in fact - and until now they've always been friendly with each other.

Last week Fred came into my office. "I understand I'm entitled to having my birthday off," he said.

"Correct," I replied. "When is it?"

"A week from Wednesday."

"Anything pressing on the schedule?" I asked.

"Nope - looks pretty clear."

"Enjoy your day off," I said.

An hour later Irma walked in, with the same request. I told her to enjoy her day off.

At noon that day we got a call from one of our major clients. A rush project, needed by the end of the following week. It was doable, but I realized that I couldn't spare both Fred and Irma on the same day.

I called them both in and explained the situation. I figured one, or even both, would give up the day.

"I can't be here next Wednesday," said Fred. "I've already made plans."

"So have I," said Irma.

"Couldn't one of you change your plans?" I asked. (You know, it's a week later and I still don't know what either one's plans are.)

"Well, I did ask first," Fred said.

"But I have seniority," Irma shot back.

Fred was resolute. "I can't change my plans, Irma. You'll have to change yours."

"Not on your life. You can change your plans," she said.

This went on for a couple of minutes, with voices rising and tempers flaring, until I stopped them.

"Now look, both of you," I said, "this was an honest mistake. If anyone's to blame, it's me."

Most times it may be good to admit one's mistakes. This wasn't one of those times. Both Fred and Irma jumped on the chance to use me as their scapegoat.

"If you give the day to Irma," said Fred, "you're playing favoritism. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.