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Insensitive To How Insensitive You’re Being

, , , , | Working | September 29, 2021

I get an email about sensitivity training and it’s mandatory; everyone has to go. I’ve never been to anything like this before, but I go with an open mind and it’s okay. It’s fairly obvious stuff  — nothing that I hadn’t considered. 

We finish the course and I happen to walk by the trainer.

Me: “Thank you for the course.”

Trainer: “Oh, no problem at all. Companies should encourage this behaviour in all staff.”

Me: “I was going to ask about that. Out of interest, why do the women have a separate course?”

Trainer: “A separate course? What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, there are more women that work at [Company] than men. I presumed that they were taking a separate session?”

Trainer: “Oh, no. We haven’t been asked for any more courses, and we are the only school near here. Perhaps you should ask your management.”

I went back and asked why only the men had been targeted. It turned out that one of the Human Resources assistants had taken it upon herself to send the names of only the men. “Women don’t need to be taught this; it is instinctive to them.” She was the first to go on the next session and had to send an apology to the team.

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Supporting People By Making Their Lives Harder. Rad.

, , , , , | Working | September 28, 2021

The owner of my company is… eccentric. He is incredibly kind and caring, but sometimes he is not the most practical thinker. He inherited the company and so doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he is largely smart enough to leave the day-to-day running to the vice president and things generally run smoothly.

During the Black Lives Matter protests, the owner decides to launch a diversity initiative. It’s a great idea, but the implementation has some hiccups. An important factor is that my town is almost entirely white and, as such, there is currently only one African American employee in our office, [Coworker #1]. He is a twenty-two-year-old intern fresh out of school and so far has been doing well at his job. As part of the initiative, the owner promotes him from intern to Senior Manager after the previous Senior Manager retires, jumping him about six rungs up the ladder and putting him just behind the Vice President.

The following conversations all happen within the first two days.

Client #1: “Where is the documentation that was supposed to go with this order?”

Coworker #1: “I don’t know. I will try to find that.”

Client #1: “I don’t have time to wait for that. We’ve been ordering from your company for years and you’ve never missed the documents!”

Coworker #1: “I apologize. I’ll do what I can.”

Coworker #2: “I need you to approve this PTO; my mom just got put in the hospital.”

Coworker #1: “Of course, of course… How do I do that?”

Coworker #2: “I don’t know how that works. Maybe ask [Vice President]?”

Coworker #3: “Hey, there are some guys here saying they need to be paid for work from five months ago.”

Coworker #1: “Can I do that? Should I do that? What did they say they did?”

These and several other conversations in the same vein happen almost continuously, with everyone in the office doing their best to help out, but we are all also busy with our own jobs. [Coworker #1] is a ball of nerves and several times has gone to either the vice president or the owner and asked for his old job back. While the vice president is sympathetic, the owner just keeps saying, “Diversity is our strength,” and won’t cut the guy a break.

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The “RC” Stands For “Really Cool”

, , , , , , , | Working | September 28, 2021

Many years ago, when I am still in my single digits, I get a small RC helicopter for Christmas from Santa Claus. Unbeknownst to me, my dad bought it mostly for himself; he just slapped my name on it to avoid my mom’s disapproval.

On his first day back to work after his Christmas vacation time, he brings the mini copter with him. My dad works in an office with cubicles so there’s plenty of open air for him to mess with, and he and his coworkers are having a blast with the thing, when, suddenly…

Boss: “WHOSE TOY IS THAT?”

Dad: “Uh, mine?”

My dad has been sitting down the entire time so he didn’t notice when his boss walked in, and [Boss] couldn’t see who had the remote.

Boss: “[DAD], IS THAT YOU?”

Dad: “Yes, sir!”

Boss: “CAN I PLAY WITH IT? PLEASE?”

Needless to say, not much work got done that day! And my dad’s boss kindly asked him to never bring the copter in again.

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Taking Ownership Of Your Job

, , , , , , | Working | September 27, 2021

Back in my college days, I worked in a hotel chain’s kitchen as a dishwasher to pay my rent and bills. Most people would think that Joe Schmoe in the back of the kitchen running dirty dishes through the mechanical washer was probably the absolute last on everyone’s list of priorities. However, within the first week that I started working there, I noticed a casually dressed person — not wearing any kind of uniform or name tag — who would come through checking different food items and writing on a clipboard.

He would always give me a friendly smile and ask if everything was okay. I assumed he was some manager from a different department, especially since he would occasionally ask me something like, “Hey, when you find time, could you sweep out (wherever)? That would be awesome! Thanks, buddy!”

I spotted a cook picking dropped food off the floor and putting it back on the plate to be served. I protested to her about it — only to be told, “Mind your own business!” — and then reported the incident to the kitchen manager. I was later approached by the casually dressed manager.

Manager: “Thanks for bringing that hygiene issue to our attention. Just to let you know, if you encounter any problem — any concerns, no matter how petty they are — you can come to my office at [floor]. What goes on here in this hotel is everyone’s business, including yours.”

Me: “Oh, are you the general manager?”

He chuckled.

Manager: “I’m here to make sure things are running smoothly.”

He stayed true to that; any concerns I had — like the mountains of unsold food that I was throwing away every day! — I could go discuss with him, and I would immediately see changes happen. I would always be greeted with, “How’s it going, buddy?” and he would make small talk, ask questions about me, the whole bit.

After a while, I asked the kitchen manager what exactly his position was. This man was not just the general manager; he was the OWNER of not only that hotel, but four other hotels in the region!

That was fifteen years ago, and out of all the people in management I remember, he’ll always stand out as the true example of what being a leader and manager is all about.

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Don’t Grill Them Over The Chicken

, , , , , , | Working | September 27, 2021

While living in the DC Metro area, we have out-of-town visitors in to see the sights. We spend one day shopping and gawking in the Georgetown area. When lunchtime arrives, we find an out-of-the-way bistro that doesn’t have an excessive wait time and where the prices (as compared to many upscale Georgetown eateries) are not outrageous.

We all order drinks, appetizers, and full-sized meals. I select a grilled chicken breast. As anyone who has ever grilled chicken knows, the thickness of a chicken breast varies, so it is hard to get the main part fully cooked without the thin outer edge becoming overcooked.

I clean my plate but leave a small amount of the charred edge of the chicken.

Waitress: “Was the chicken not cooked to your liking?”

Me: “No, it was fine. I’d rather have the main part well cooked, even if the edge was overdone.”

Waitress: “I’m terribly sorry for that, sir. I’ll speak to the chef to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Me: “Please don’t. Everything was delicious, and I wouldn’t have expected anything different. It really wasn’t a problem.”

Less than two minutes later:

Manager: “I’m the restaurant manager, and I’d like to apologize for your meal not being served perfectly.”

Me: “Think nothing of it! Everything was excellent and all of us were completely satisfied with everything that we had. We have no complaints or concerns about anything.”

Manager: “You’re being too kind, sir. We strive to meet very high standards here, and we won’t accept anything less for any customer’s experience. I’ve removed your lunch charge from the bill, and I’d like to provide your entire party with dessert as a way to make amends for this problem.”

Me: “Honestly, that really isn’t necessary. Everything was wonderful and we’re all really happy that we found this place. There is no need for you to make adjustments for something that we didn’t see as a problem.”

Manager: “Thank you for your kindness. I hope that you’ll come back again sometime so we can prove that we can do things properly.”

When the check came, ALL of my charges — drinks, appetizer, and main meal — had been removed from the bill. That restaurant became our go-to location for visitors, special occasions, and even for business meals. I recommended it to my sales team for their use with customers. By the time I was transferred to a new location, I’m sure that their $100 fix to a non-existent problem had netted them over $10,000 from my business alone.

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