- April 19, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Management
Years ago, when we were still doing warehouse inventory counts by hand, we decided as a company that an inventory would be taken on a weekend so we wouldn’t disrupt service to our customers. This was not an unusual practice, because we were working toward taking inventory in a single day, not our previous 10 day process.
One individual in our company, who had 20 years of service within the organization, said he was heading up a golf tournament on the day of our inventory, and said that he would be leaving at noon to run the tournament.
He was told that the inventory count was considered a production day, just like a regular workday, and that he could leave if the inventory was complete. If we weren’t finished and he left, that would be considered a voluntary quit, and he would be out of a job. It would be just like walking off the job on a Wednesday morning or Friday afternoon.
This person left at 12 noon, as promised, to manage his golf tournament, and so he was “severed from the organization,” as promised.
It was a tough decision, but we felt it was important we kept our word on this. We didn’t want to be seen as weak on our requirements, and we knew that if we let this go, we could lose a lot of credibility and respect from the rest of our associates on the floor.
After that weekend, this person began to empty his kitty litter box into my parking space once a week. I would pull into my parking space every week to find a pile of used kitty litter in my parking space, and he became known as the Mad Crapper.
Unfortunately for him, we’d installed a camera system around the facility, including the parking lots, for safety and operational diagnostics, so it was easy to see who was doing it. There we caught him, on camera, unloading his kitty litter into my parking space, as plain as day.
I had three courses of action open to me: 1) I could have him arrested, because we caught him on camera. 2) I could ignore it and have to deal with cat crap in my parking space for months and years. Or, 3) I could have the local constabulary scare the crap out of him for me.
In the end, I chose the last course. The local sheriff’s deputies went to his house, and had a word with him about what we had found on the video, and that was the end of it.
This was an unfortunate situation, because our man had been with the company for 20 years, but he knew what was expected of him on a production day. And I had to stay committed to our decision as a company, even in the face of his protest, because it was important that the rest of our associates see our support of the sacrifices they were making. It may not have been a popular decision to make, but allowing him to leave would have done deeper damage to company morale and made it easier for people to complain and complain until we gave in to their demands.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: CambridgeBayWeather (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)