Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Guest Blogger

Solidarity Works at El Dorado Irrigation
The strength of any cohesive goal-driven organization exists within the core of its people and their fundamental ideology.

The relationship of Trust and Support between employees and management are the foundation of any highly successful business and the only true vehicles that will achieve naturally occurring excellence. Employees support management and trust management’s commitment toward their success. As a result, management trusts employees to support their collective endeavor toward excellence. Win ~ Win.

From ditch diggers to senior engineers, these employees provide the knowledge for overcoming any obstacle presented. However, if these people are working in fear of enduring ongoing retribution as a response to work related faux pas, they will stifle the inherent beneficial contributions that would normally allow them to achieve excellence; excellence within every aspect of their given responsibilities. (It is not the strength and determination of one, but the achievements of many that make an organization extraordinary) Naturally occurring excellence is achieved through the efforts of employees and the trust and support of compassionate managers and their executive staff.

Unfortunately, in this organization, empathy is an enigmatic concept.

e.g., An overzealous employee had an accident with a small gas-powered utility vehicle while responding to a SCADA initiated process alarm. The damage was minimal and the injury incurred no lost time. While discussing options for discipline with his staff and hearing the standard progressive approach, the executive manager retorted, “What would I do in this instance? Off with his legs!! He should be punished to the fullest extent possible!”

A little unusual?

Another employee ‘replied to all’ from a poorly composed email which was written by a recently discarded employee and designed to berate our executive staff while exposing the aggressive nature of their domineering management practices. The original letter was sent out using #everyone. This had been a forbidden practice. (Depending upon who used it) Thus, by utilizing ‘reply to all’, this employee indirectly broke one of many unwritten rules. He broke an additional unwritten rule with his verbiage, paraphrased as, “I always liked the person who wrote this email and I think he did a good job.” Here he awkwardly stood up for the discarded employee and put his career in jeopardy. This person, unbeknownst to him, was on the threshold of administrative leave followed by a 3-day suspension without pay. The executive manager was irate and wanted disciplinary action immediately based on, if nothing else, the use of #everyone. This employee, unbeknownst to the executive manager, was advised to write an apology email to his supervisor that could be forwarded to the executive manager. This was completed. The response to the employee from the once outraged executive manager was rife with condolence and language such as, “It is an honor and a privilege to work with such a great man as you and I look forward to our many years of service together.”

A bit confusing?

To complete this e.g. tri-fecta, let us share a conversation that occurred during a 10+ person meeting deliberating the language of a multimillion-dollar project. This project required years of research involving many parties, including the services of an engineering firm. At each and every fork in the decision making process, the executive manager controlling its direction was presented the alternatives available and he made his decisions based on relevant information. This allowed the project to continue at a reasonable pace without wasting precious time developing the unusable. A very efficient process. After mulling over language, approach, and financial considerations, the product was ready for the 10+ person meeting. The process seemed to be flowing well as the executive manager narrowly scrutinized the efforts that he himself orchestrated at each decision-making opportunity. All conversation stopped abruptly when the executive manager pounced on a paragraph that he recalled not being happy with. (This is a quote omitting the name of the person accosted) The executive manager said, “What is this paragraph doing here?!? I specifically told you to remove this language! I should take you downstairs and SHOOT YOU!!!” The room went silent. When the executive manager was informed that this language was his and that there were notes to back up the claim. The executive manager dropped the matter and moved on to the next line for deliberation.


These are but a sample of the inner-workings of day-to-day life as an employee under the current administration. There are many stories that have not been exposed pertaining to inconsistent human resource practices, intimidation, and outright cruelty in the pursuit of excellence. Excellence that is demanded.

What is excellence? This subjective achievement is obtained through the determination and commitment of the ground troops. It cannot be demanded, but must be nurtured and developed through trust and support until excellence becomes the prevailing mindset of all participants. Then, and only then, will the benefits of excellence be free-flowing and absolutely unstoppable. The people who are this organization have this potential, nevertheless, until the executive management staff realizes that demanding success through intimidation is a powder keg waiting to explode, nothing will change.

Wake up EID and know that success isn’t a feather in your cap, but an opportunity to transform an institution into a family of professionals. Ask yourselves, ”Can I affect change without jeopardizing my own career?” Consider your professional dignity.

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