Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Friday was a madhouse at work. We had 5 client reports due. Every time I took a call there would be two new messages from clients waiting by the time I hung up. Lots of people were helping. The whole office was busy. The Admin Assistants were working constantly…and getting a bit testy.

At 2 pm I went to the office of one of our young associates (YA) to check on progress for one of my five reports. I had made changes and given feedback an hour ago and had expected to have a final draft to review by then. I had too much going on to be anything but direct. The conversation went like this:

Me: Where is the report? I thought it would be done by now?

YA: I gave it To M (one of the AAs) but she has been busy.

Me: When did you last check on progress? (I could see a hint of fear sweep across his face.)

YA: You want me to check with M? (The look of fear grew more intense.)

Me: Isn’t the client expecting it soon? (I use questions to make the point. The Socratic method.)

YA: (Silence)

Me: Who are you more afraid of, her or me? (More Socratic method)

YA: (More silence as he was clearly trying to figure out the answer to that question.)

Me: Trust me. I can make it so you are much more afraid of me.

YA: So I guess I should check with M?

Me: Good idea. (Conversation ends. Sometimes you need more than the Socratic method to make a point.)

I am not typically a scary person. I am not physically imposing. I do not yell, scream or swear at the people who work for me. I do however become quite annoyed when our client work is not getting done— especially when the person responsible (YA) is not doing his/her job. I suspect, OK I know, my annoyance comes through in my tone of voice.

Maybe to be more effective I should have a little Psycho music playing in the background when I walk in.

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

4 Responses to Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

  1. Frank says:

    Dude, I was cheering you on from the sidelines there. That silence thing they learned from never being wrong at home…all part of the self esteem movement of the recent era. I love that “I can make it so that you’re much more afraid of me.” Beauty. That is Jack Nicholson scary. Way to go. And btw, there are lost of really good people out of work right now, so if people don’t want to buck up, there are lots of replacements waiting in the wings.

  2. 48facets says:

    This “kid” has worked for us for two years. I expect people like him to be committed to the clients he works on. I had already had to deal with the superstar kid (everyone else thinks he is a superstar) who left me a report to read in the morning that I had to almost completely change.

    The problem with working in a big company is that I do not have hiring/firing authority and while we have bodies in slots we do not go looking for the quality replacements. Until then, a combination of training, nurturing and fear will be my tools.

  3. Pax Romano says:

    Norman, is that you? 😉

  4. rwolf says:

    Should have come with a warning:

    Kids (of all ages, and you know who you are), don’t try this at home.

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