Back in the Nineties, I was a new HR Manager at a company where Pam was a Project Director. Joe, her employee, was a Project Manager.
They both brought a lot of experience and money into the company.
They were both very nice, smart, hardworking, and no nonsense. Perfect match? Meh.
Pam was artsy; a writer without children who poured herself into her work. She came in around noon most days and left whenever usually past 8pm.
Joe was retired Army, strict about time, living his second life, so to speak. He was at work before 7am every day and wanted to leave by 3pm. He had a young son.
They were two of our best employees!
But - -
They began to have communication problems. Pam would have questions for Joe at 3pm and expect him to be as casual with his time as she was with hers. She couldn’t understand why he had to leave so early every day.
He had obvious opposite feelings. Why couldn’t she care more about other people’s time? If she came in earlier, she could be more efficient and wouldn’t have to work into the night.
This was before technology gave us instant contact with each other via e mail or cell phone. No one carried a computer around with them in those days. We still had land lines. In fact, they weren’t land lines. They were just home phone numbers. When you left the office, you were pretty much done for the day (unless you brought accordion files home with you.)
So Pam was putting handwritten messages in Joe’s mailbox – not e mail or DM - a real cubby-hole or shelf or drawer that collects paper and envelopes.
Joe took this personally. He assumed she was being passive aggressive. She was only trying to communicate because their actual working hours only overlapped by 3 hours!
One day, Joe brings me an envelope. In it was a resignation letter. We couldn’t lose this valuable employee over a misunderstanding and the CEO was traveling.
Long story short: When Pam came in, I managed to sit the three of us in the CEO’s (vacant) office and really talk, just talk.
Joe explained. Pam listened. Pam understood.
Pam explained. Joe listened. Pam understood.
Sometimes, we just need to talk, explain, listen, and understand.