January 29, 2003
showed respect for worker's skill
Question: (E-021) My brother-in-law is considering
whether he should quit his job over what he calls an integrity
issue. It seems his boss, the owner of a small company,
left town without telling him. He left him in charge without
my brother-in-law knowing that the owner was out of town
and out of reach, even should an emergency have arisen.
owner had a compelling personal reason, but did not take
the opportunity to inform my brother-in-law. While recognizing
that the owner must trust him with the business, my wifes
brother felt exposed because he was in charge, but in
feel he is making a mountain out a molehill and should
be satisfied with simply requesting that it not happen
again. What do you think?
Response: Yes, your relative may well be making a
mountain out of a molehill. In fact, he may be on the
brink of trading a moment for a career. Obviously
the boss trusts your brother in law. He probably likes
we can help your brother-in-law see the situation more
clearly if we separate the issues:
No. 1: He has earned and received the respect and
trust of the owner. He was left in charge!.
That is a significant compliment. It means the boss trusts
your wifes brother.
No. 2: There is a problem regarding an employee being
left in the dark about the whereabouts of
the boss. As an outsider, it is my speculation that some
aspect of the relationship between your brother-in-law
and the boss needs improvement. Obviously the boss handled
this business decision poorly. It may not be an integrity
issue, but it is a management issue that needs to be fixed
immediately. Wise leaders know that they need to remain
accessible in the event of an emergency, especially when
they place someone else in charge.
long time ago, a mentor advised me that it can be naïve
or even unreasonable to assume that all personal and professional
relationships can be developed and sustained at the same
level of intensity. He was right. During a quarter of
a century in the management consulting business, some
clients were closer professionally than personally. They
liked our executive counsel services, but
chose not to be as close outside of our client-counselor
relationship. They paid our fees, but did not necessarily
invite us to family events, such as weddings.
contrast, other clients became more than business friends--actually
more like family. In those instances, our
personal friendships have continue today, long after our
professional relationships ended.
is seldom wise to blow up a friendship. Perhaps
further dialogue will explain the behaviors, at least
for this situation. This problem between friends
can be turned into an opportunity to strengthen not only
the relationship, but also the business and its management
practices. Integrity is the key stone and is the only
practical path to follow to fix whatever is