Friday, November 01, 2013

Workplace talk

The recent revelation that a professional athlete has sought help for this issue should shatter stereotypes. In this case the abused is a Stanford educated pro from a rock solid family. The target is likely much more intelligent and in this case physically stronger then those dishing out the abuse.

Workers should expect reasonable criticism when they under perform. This goes double when the failure impacts the team. In my case we had two examples yesterday. A newer officer got a tad gun shy with a rather large case and called in sick. The result was that this massive case was dumped on me at the last second. In an amazing coincidence the attorney got hit by a car and the case had to be rescheduled. In this case some joking is to be expected. The lack of heart directly impacted a fellow officer. Teamwork depends on knowing who you can count on in a tight spot. As this was a one time episode and not part of a larger pattern it is no big deal after some light humor.

The second one is a bit more serious. An officer has abused sick time impacting my work load. In my case even when I am ill, I make it to work so that others don't have to do my cases. I usually come early to prepare so I can even take an extra case or two in an emergency. In this case a new officer has been absent so often I have had to pick up close to fifty of his cases. In this case he was late and I had to pick up an extra case. Ordinarily this is no big deal, however as this person has a clear pattern comedic justice if not remedial action is warranted. I explained how his issues with absenteeism and tardiness impact me directly.
Oddly, he has at least three times as many continued cases as me and he just arrived. If he was having personal issues he should just take a leave of absence. Admittedly, he is not embraced and well loved but bullying occurs. When he showed up late, he offered to take his work back. As a courtesy, I offered the applicant a choice and a passing coworker said stay put. It also does not help that my office is now a very pleasant place to sit.

I don't like to switch cases because I come in early to prepare. The checks are done and I know who is walking in the door. Recently an annoying peer had to switch cases due to personal issues. I was slightly perturbed for two reasons. My case was fully prepared and ready for quick movement. The second case was totally unprepared and was far more labor and officer intensive. The supervisor is a wonderful human being and recognized it and defused it with a simple we have all been there remark. The attorney was very happy with the change and understood that my timetables would be off. His client would require extra time
roughly about 30 minutes. As his client had waited years, the extra time for a better venue is not a primary

I am starting to get annoyed by my peers on the subject of gays. We swear an oath to uphold the laws and are expected to be pros. As far as the religious arguments and morals, this concern is quite trivial as it is private behavior that impacts nobody other then willing participants. My peers regularly hear cases with people who drink and drive and commit criminal acts. I object to people who drink and drive. Innocent people die from impaired driving, but the morality of this is not pondered by the same people.

I had two lower ranked peers who were vexed by this issue. With the first a person asked how a gay man can father a child. I joked about the sperm cell joining the egg and cellular division. The person laughed and I got her to focus on the case specifics. The second peer was handled with lets return to case specifics and focus on the merits. Remaining focused is a key element of any job. When you watch MASH you see that skilled pros can joke a bit when they perform. If one is focused, competent and well trained most tasks should appear routine. The other bit is if you are not confident the public you serve will notice. This does not infer you should be standoffish. A simple quip , I think I have done this a time or two eases the atmosphere

Work place humor should stick to the situation and not be about the peer. Thus with the worker who dodged a heavy case some light humor is appropriate.He will go on to be an excellent peer. With the second case of excessive lateness I am not so certain. A top person asked me about training and getting things accomplished. I explained I can teach techniques but if the person does not want to improve it is wasted time.

With all these issues there is no excuse for bullying or making a peer into a pariah. It may be that the person with chronic lateness and attendance issues can not cut it. However, there is no excuse for emotional abuse
beyond the normal quips. Shame on the Miami Dolphins for allowing a poisonous work place to take a toll on an individual. Coaches and players who did not step in should be ashamed of themselves. Did you help yourselves as a team by making a peer into a pariah. It is one of those moments where people should look in the mirror and say look at yourselves and hang your heads in shame.

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