Decades ago in my first role as a manager our little team of three was responsible for managing a few products at an integrated circuit manufacturer. Our duties included product definition, launching, pricing, customer service, delivery oversight, and more. George**, one of the guys on my team was the service agent for a couple of large customers.
He was also in law school. I admired his drive, until his studies caused him to call in “sick” quite a bit. When he was in the office, George’s work product was exemplary. When he was out, our other teammate and I had to do quite a bit of extra work because customer service needs to be timely.
I am not sure why I did not discuss the situation with my manager, but that’s a topic for another day. After a few delays, I mustered my courage and asked George to talk about it. I shared about his exemplary work and how I valued him as a member of our team. I then outlined what my day looked like when he was out–he was surprised. He had not really considered the broader ramifications of his absences.
We talked about the need for consistency in customer service. I shared that his lack of passion for customer service was okay given that it was an entry-level position and that it didn’t seem like it was his long-term career goal. However, we needed him to be in the office more, or find a job that did not require the high level of presence. I told George that because of his outstanding work I would help him find another position and write a recommendation.
I fully expected George to choose to leave for a different job. He did not. He focused on doing a great job as a customer service agent, and was soon promoted to manager. I cannot tell you much about why George chose to change. Unfortunately I was not there during his transition. I had left for greener pastures so I heard the news of his promotion from others and did not have the mindset to want to understand it more at that time.
I am not even sure our conversation had any effect on George’s transition. I do know that I am glad I jumped out of the frying pan and that we talked.
What challenging situations in your life changed because of a you had the courage to jump out of the frying pan? What got you to initiate the conversation? Please share!
** George is not his real name