16 October 2006

Quality Management

Consider the following.

You are a manager of some sort. You have a number of employees working under you, and they work a variety of different jobs. Several of those employees work the same job. You decide one afternoon to move several of those employees into a different job. You tell one or two people other than those employees when you plan to move them into said different job.

And that's it. That's all you do. You don't tell the employees themselves anything. Not one word. The employees hear through the grapevine that they are to change jobs, but they don't know what the new job is, or where, or when to show up.

Do you go to bed satisfied that you've done a good job as a manager? Do you get upset when the employees don't show up for their new job when you wanted them to? What possible set of circumstances exist that allow you to consider what you've just done to be "good management" or even a proper way to behave?

This is what my boss has done to me and two other people. On Saturday, a rumor was mentioned that three of us might be moving to another job, but the rumor offered no consensus on what or where that job would be. On Sunday, we came in to do our current jobs (SWO and XO) as scheduled and did them as usual. The XO I relieved mentioned that he'd heard we were supposed to start the new job tomorrow, but didn't have any real information. He'd drawn up a new watchbill for the SWO and XO desks assuming we three would be moving on, but he did so not under any directed authority but because he wanted to be ready just in case.

We worked our shift. Two of us were working the same shift, from 1800-0000, so we were both there, in the office, at the same time and in the same location, for six hours, during the entirety of which time our boss came and went from the office. We spoke with him occasionally—he said hello to me at dinner, greeted "Todd" who was working his first shift since coming back from emergency leave, but said little else to us. He went out to have his three beers and came back and watched football in his office with the door open.

"Todd" and I had to think about whether we were going to ask him anything. Understand, at this point, the sum total of what we'd been told about this job change was from the XO I relieved, who didn't know much of anything apart from the fact that he thought we were changing jobs. The boss had said nothing to us, not one thing, not even a hint at one thing. He hadn't even mentioned something to us about the new job as if he thought he already knew.

The boss' most direct deputy also seems to know something, though not much, about the job change. He worked opposite Todd and I for about two hours. During that time he scarcely acknowledged our existence, and certainly did nothing whatsoever toward informing us of our change in status.

The third of us, "Will," came in around 2330 to relieve us. We talked a little about what was going on, but there wasn't much to say. At this point, what we knew was that there was a rumor that we might be changing jobs, but we didn't know to what, or where, or when, or with whom we'd be working, or when we were to be at work; in short, we had fragments of a rumor. All three of us were still in the office at midnight, when the boss closed his office door, said goodnight, and walked out, down the hill to go to bed.

He could have taken thirty seconds out of his evening and said, hey, you guys know about tomorrow, right? And when we gave him blank looks he could have explained, hey, you'll be working with so-and-so doing this-n-that and show up at thus-n-then. Instead, he walked out of his office, said goodnight, and left.

I'm writing this at noon. I stayed up a little later than usual last night and didn't get up at eight, as is my custom. I got up around ten. I chatted with "Will" a little around eleven-thirty or so. He had just woke up. Todd apparently didn't go to sleep until after breakfast. At this point we've heard nothing from anyone. No runner has been sent to our rooms to find us and figure out where we are. While I was asleep, Todd and Will went to breakfast and saw the boss there, who said hello to them. Still, nothing.

I assume that before all this is over we're going to get chewed out by two or three different people and accused of failing to do our jobs. I'm fairly well prepped for that at this point. I intend to just keep my mouth shut and take what comes, but I must admit I'm terribly curious. Will and I are going to go up the hill sometime this afternoon, after lunch anyway. I don't know what we're going to do there. I don't know if Todd (who outranks us) is going to join us or not, or whether he'll even be awake. Should be interesting.


Lucky Bob said...

That sounds about right. I have this stubborn streak in me. I’ll purposefully ignore rumors and information I’ve gathered on the side, and do the job like I hadn’t heard anything, if I think I should have been informed about something. I consider it a teaching opportunity for the person who should have told me. I’ve pissed a couple of people off that way, so I always make sure I have most of the logical arguments laid out in my head ahead of time. If I do it right they end up getting pissed at themselves as much as they are pissed at me. Plus it’s just so much better if I can keep my cool, while they start getting mad. It’s kinda fun. You'll have to tell us what happens.

Rambling Speech said...

I heard a rumor that I'm supposed to be the one setting up these special meetings at the school. No one told me to do it. The meetings are being scheduled without my meddling. If that's part of my job, they need to tell me. Otherwise, I'll just pretend not to notice the rumors and continue to go to the meetings as an observer instead of moderator. Really, if no one communicates it to you, and you are not interested in climbing a ladder, then let it ride. If you are on a ladder climb, that's were you get points for "initiative".

Cheyenne said...


Also, I was wrong. You guys are going to kick our asses.

Also, I miss you. How are things going?