This is the 3rd in a series about “covering” or looking out for each other in a work environment. The need to do this is on a top down, down to top, and peer to peer basis. In the immediately prior post, I mentioned an employee who was hostile to another employee. The fact that this was happening was unknown to Melissa or me. To some degree it was known to other employees, but the full extent of it was known only to the junior most employee who was being verbally abused by a more senior employee. “Covering” for each other would have required any employee who was aware of the situation to report it. Another time we had an employee who was drinking on the job. When the intoxicated employee was eventually terminated, one employee reported to us that she was aware of the situation but thought we were trying to help the impaired person. Both situations are examples of NOT covering for each other. Being a “tattle tail” certainly has a negative connotation. Allowing bad things to happen in a workplace should outweigh that connotation. Looking out for each other is critical to “mission success.” The lesson we learned from these experiences is that it is important to discuss various scenarios with employees and explain how they should handle observations about problems among and between other employees. Ensuring that staff know what is expected of them in this regard is crucial to doing the right thing, and doing things the right way.
Although it has been over 30 years since I have been an employee, as opposed to an employer, I can recall what it was like to have co-workers and colleagues. The best example I am aware of is my colleague, and now, long time friend, Dr. Susan Broome, who looked out for me in an amazingly wonderful way. As I have written in a previous post about Dr. Broome (https://magnusinsights.com/2019/05/dr-susan-broome/), within a few weeks of meeting me, she invited me to live in her lovely home during the many months I worked in Boston, returning home only on weekends. This generous act of kindness allowed me to leave clothes behind, enjoy a great dinner after a long work day, and provided me with much needed company that soon turned into friendship. While most of the ways in which employees cover for each other are confined to working hours, this example reveals just how far a person can go in helping a co-worker or colleague when they need help. Look around your workplace, see who needs your help, and help someone. You may be as fortunate as me to develop a lifelong friendship. Thanks again, Susan, for the fine example you set and for over 30 years of friendship!