Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
June 12, 2009
and D.F.: Two Insane Approaches to Unexcused Absences
been inspired by General Motors and the United Auto Workers. Their insanity
is fueling mine. So from now on, when my employees blow off work, I am going
to let them off the hook – provided they thoroughly entertain me in their
efforts to explain themselves.
again, it would be hard to come up with business brilliance more comedic
than what comes out of GM and the UAW themselves. A case in point is their
new contract rules regarding unexcused absences.
say, just for the sake of discussion, that you have an employee who
inexplicably fails to show up for work one day. Doesn’t call. Doesn’t
e-mail. Just plain isn’t there for no apparent reason.
first time it happens, you might just fire him, but most of us would keep
trying to reach him – out of concern for his safety, if nothing else – and
once he was finally located, would look for an explanation.
let’s say he really didn’t have an explanation. He just didn’t feel like
coming to work that day, and couldn’t be bothered to call. At that point,
I’d be surprised if half of all employers would give him a second chance,
but assuming he was at least someone apologetic, I imagine a significant
number would give him the stern don’t-let-it-happen-again routine, then tell
him to go back to work.
some point in the future, it happens again. Now what? If this is a very
important and productive employee – someone whose contributions are vital
when he shows up – you might face a tough decision. But my guess is that
fewer than 20 percent of employers who gave him a second chance are now
going to give him a third. And for that small percentage who will
give him a third chance, well, once it happens a third time . . . you get
put myself in the group that gives him a second chance only if he
convinced me he really understands the seriousness of what he did, and I
would not be that easy to convince. On the second offense, I would be done
with him, no matter how important he was. Even if he is productive when he
shows up, I can’t run my company if I can’t feel confident an important
employee will show up on any given day.
that’s me, and it’s probably you. If you want to know why General Motors is
now in bankruptcy, get this: GM’s recent big triumphant new contract with
the United Auto Workers stipulates that an employee who helps himself to an
unexcused absence can be fired – once he’s done it six times.
hardly breaking news that the inmates are running the asylum at GM. This has
been true for generations, as the UAW insists on lunatic “work rules” and
files a litany of grievances any time the company tries to get people to
actually get some work done. It is an indication of GM’s relationship with
reality that it announced proudly employees will now have to work 40 hours a
week before they get overtime pay.
every time I think I’m the last person who should be running a business, I
look at what happens at GM and realize I’m actually quite sane by
comparison. And that bothers me. So here’s what I’m going to do:
now on, whenever one of my employees blows off work, I will not ask for a
reasonable explanation. That would be silly, as I am sure none would be
forthcoming. Instead, I want an entertaining one. The more far-fetched, the
better. The more twisted your story, the more I will enjoy it. Creativity is
see, D.F., I was on my way to work, when suddenly a deer ran in front of my
“Did you hit the deer?”
no, the deer stopped in front of my car as if to summon me. She wanted me to
follow her into the woods. I felt strangely moved to accede to her summons.
In the woods, she led me to a clearing where a group of renegade deer where
smoking Camel cigarettes and discussing a counter-offensive against the many
hunters who would soon be descending upon them.”
that so? And what did this have to do with you?”
been chosen to witness this cabal so that I might warn my species not to
proceed with hunting season – for the sake of all specieskind. I spent the
rest of the afternoon sitting by cool water and trying to find my way back
to civilization, and once I made it, I visited every sporting goods store in
town posting flyers. I was going to show you one, but I ran out.”
this is good stuff. I got no work out of you, but I got entertained, which
saved me the effort of trying to entertain myself. You’ve just bought
yourself a second chance.
doesn’t even demand that much. If you blow off work, they just shrug their
shoulders and remind themselves that they have no idea what you do for them
© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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