Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You make the call...

The location.
It's a major University, circa 2009.

Cast of characters.
Dick, a supervisor who works in a department on campus, known to be a pretty decent guy

Joe, an easygoing, hardworking employee who works in a department on campus (not the same as Dick). Joe will do whatever needs to be done to get the job done, but he doesn't put up with any crap.

Mel, the employee who works in a department separate and unrelated to either Dick or Joe.

Other sordid employees who work with Joe

The scene.
Late afternoon.
Dick walks into Joe's department and requests Joe's assistance.

The story.
Joe is happy to help Dick, after all it's his job. Suddenly in the course of helping Dick, Joe receives a phone call while he's helping Dick, the call is from Mel who says that he has an emergency which requires Joe's help. Dick understanding that in the course of his job, emergencies have to come first especially when it has to do with building problems. Joe tells Mel he'll help him ASAP, Joe asks Dick to hold on for a few minutes because emergencies must take priority (as Joe has been taught).

Dick suddenly flies off the handle cursing and screaming at Joe for not helping him NOW, tells Joe that he has to leave work on time and cannot be late. Joe politely tries to explain that it's an emergency and must come first but to be patient and he can help him. Joe tries to maintain composure, but Dick goes on being an asshole. Finally, having had enough of being berated and hollered at, Joe lets Dick have it, using some rather strong curse words and telling him off.

At no time do Joe or Dick threaten each other or physically harm one another.

Joe's fellow employees do nothing to help diffuse the situation. Nobody attempts to bring out Joe's boss who is better equipped to deal with these kind of situations.

After the situation is over, before Joe leaves he informs his supervisor of everything that happened. Joe's supervisor thanks him. Joe leaves for home.

The next day, Dick the supervisor reports Joe's behavior to higher ups. The head of Dick's unit orders an investigation. Personnel is brought into the picture and conducts the investigation themselves. Joe fears he could lose his job even though he is a great employee with high marks. Everyone involved is asked to write up a report of what they witnessed. Joe is angry and wants to file a countercomplaint against Dick but is told it probably wouldn't do any good.

Two weeks after the incident, Joe gets a letter of reprimand signed by his supervisor (who didn't want to but had no choice) but seems to have been written by personnel in his file telling him he was neglectful in his duties by putting the emergency situatio. He is told that kind of behavior would no longer be tolerated at the institution. He is told he needs to cease the cursing, which he himself agrees he needs to do.

To Joe's knowledge, nothing has been done to the supervisor, Dick, who instigated the entire mess in the first place. Joe believes that while he (Joe) was wrong in cursing and getting angry, that he could have handled the conflict better, it never would have happened if supervisor, Dick hadn't flown off the handle and gone after him first. Supervisors are supposed to know better, they are supposed to be trained in how to handle themselves and other employees.

Three weeks after the incident, Joe's cursing at work has ceased and all is back to normal, he's still doing his job and doing it well. He no longer talks about what happened because what's done is done. Still deep down inside he might harbor some resentment that nothing was done about Dick.

What should have happened here?
Should Joe have followed policy and put the emergency first?

Should Joe's coworkers have gone to get their supervisor immediately when the conflict began?

Should Joe have been reprimanded so severely?

Should Dick have been reprimanded as well?

Comments anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9/02/2009

    I have a Joe and Dick situation in my house, but fortunately for Joe, Dick just tranferred to another location. I think the whole situation stinks. I hate when people are expected to uphold policy and then supervisors don't follow it themselves.~ST