*Introducing the Storytelling Series: a series of blog posts featuring fictitious characters with all too familiar workplace challenges.
John shivered as he removed his coat and draped it over the back of his chair, which swiveled under the weight and knocked into the front of his desk. It was a cold New England day. This morning he forgot his gloves in the house and had to use his 10-year-old ice scraper on the car windshield. The lights on his dashboard had slowly flickered on to reveal a bone chilling 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and John’s Jeep Grand Cherokee puttered out of the driveway and onto the road- just to discover that the fresh dusting of snow on the highway would turn his usual 45 minute commute into an hour.
After dropping his coat John quickly logged onto his computer and headed down the hall to the kitchen. He grabbed his favorite mug from the shelf, poured himself a large cup of coffee, and headed back toward his desk just to run into his coworker Richard.
“Second time this week being late, huh John? You sure this promotion hasn’t gone to your head?” Richard let out a pretentious chuckle and wagged a finger at him as he strolled by. John was just thankful he hadn’t stopped to chat. Richard was one of those coworkers that liked to walk around the office announcing all the work he’d done lately, and offering unwanted advice about problems that didn’t concern him.
Pushing Richard’s comment aside, John returned to his desk and started settling in for the day ahead. Ever since his promotion to Corporate Manager of EHS the days had become a bit more stressful. He had soon found out that overseeing incidents for a global manufacturing company definitely had its challenges. On some days the only thing that kept him sane was the three smiling faces looking up at him from the metal picture frame on his desk. His wife Joy and two daughters, tanned and laughing, were sitting on the pontoon boat they had rented during vacation that past summer.
But those warm vacation days were long gone, and he was now smack dab in the middle of winter’s long, depressing lull. John had gotten word at the end of last week that an accident had occurred at one of their plants on the other side of the country. One of the biggest problems was that this incident had occurred three weeks prior, and John wasn’t informed until the company was already slapped with a $40k bill. That hadn’t been a fun mess to clean up.
John knew there had to be an easier way to manage things. At a company as large and widespread as his, incidents were happening on a pretty regular basis. The problem was that when they occurred, the details were filed away in a folder somewhere at the site where the incident happened, and no one at the corporate level was being informed about it. Currently, John had no efficient way to obtain enterprise-wide metrics that would help him identify, analyze, and then minimize his company’s incidents.
On top of the headache that trying to track this information was causing him, his colleagues were also approaching him with woes of their own. The company was required to submit a certain number of OSHA 300 reports in order to remain compliant with regulations. Every time these reports were due the employees responsible would have to scramble for the correct information, and then spend many hours manually inputting data and reporting on the same things over, and over, and over again. Not only was the task monotonous, but it was wasting too many valuable man hours and John’s colleagues were feeling unmotivated due to there being no inherent value behind their hard work.
John wanted to make the most of his new, respected position. He wanted to help his colleagues (and himself) by finding a way to accurately track their data and automate reporting so that employees were happy, incidents minimized, and risks mitigated. But for now, John would take a big swig of his coffee and start opening the many, everyday emails and notifications that were waiting for him. Daydreams of a big-picture solution did him no good. He simply didn’t know where to start.
Can you relate to the issues that John is experiencing? Click here to read more about a possible solution for John and others like him.