Sometimes I just don’t GET it. There are times that I really struggle to understand why some managers make bone-headed moves, why they do stupid things that accomplish nothing productive for the organization but instead piss their employees off!
A long-time reader of this blog called me the other day to tell me about a situation he recently observed in the company he works for. A junior employee, let’s call her Samantha, has been working temporarily at another company location, helping to implement a new software system in the organization. To save money, the company has a policy that employees are only allowed to return home once every two weeks, which means that Samantha must spend the in-between weekend away from home. While she is not compensated for this weekend away from home, the company does cover her hotel, meals and other incidental expenses at the distant location. You may question whether this is fair or not, but it is the arrangement that Samantha has agreed to, and she seemed satisfied with it … well, until just recently. You see Samantha submitted her latest expense report to her manager in which she claimed just a little over $100 for dry cleaning and laundry for one two-week trip. Soon after, her manager called her into his office to advise her that upon review by the management team, $100 seemed “excessive” for laundry, and that she needed to reduce her expenses in this area.
Are you kidding me??? This young woman is on the road for two weeks at a time wearing professional clothes such as suits and dresses. Last time I checked, hotel laundry and dry cleaning doesn’t exactly come cheap! Leaving that aside for a moment, this employee is giving up her weekends to stay in a far-away city so that the company can save money, and they are begrudging her a paltry $100 in laundry costs? Needless to say, Samantha is upset. It doesn’t help that it was also implied to her that perhaps she was bringing clothes from home to be cleaned through the hotel laundry system! Bad enough that this company’s management has no sense of perspective but now they’re implying that she’s dishonest! As a result, Samantha has vowed to just take more clothes with her. “I’ll just take an extra bag with me now,” she said. “And I’ll just put the extra baggage fee on my next expense statement.”
I am absolutely mind-boggled that this management team doesn’t GET it! Let’s assume for a moment that Samantha is in fact bringing dirty clothes with her from home just so she can get them cleaned for free (which I don’t necessarily believe to be true but let’s make that assumption for a minute!). Company management, where is your sense of perspective? Your employee is spending a weekend away from home to save you money in airfare (which can be very expensive). Is a trifling $100 a big enough deal for you to run the risk of de-motivating this employee? Because this is exactly what you’ve done. Unfortunately, I see this manoeuver frequently enough that I’ve given it a name: the piss-off factor! The piss-off factor is what short-sighted and small-minded managers do to discourage and turn off their employees.
So what do you think? Do you think management is right in this situation, or like me, do you think their actions are idiotic? Please … I can’t wait to hear your opinion.