Death and Management

This morning at 6 am one of my employees called me to let me know that one of his co-workers' wives had called in and told him that her husband had passed away. Joel has been with the company for a little over a month, and there was nothing wrong with him (as his hiring manager, I'd probably have known). For the last hour and a half, instead of worrying about how to improve statistics and implement new projects, I've been thinking about how little we value the people around us and just how much we take them for granted. I know this is an incredibly old theme but it's usually thrown out in context with family - "I should have spent more time with dear Aunt Mildred" rather than, I should have gotten to know Joel outside of how quickly he resolved problems and how professional he was in the workplace.

I will go into work today and clear off his desk, reassign all of his work, and write a somber email to the staff. I will fill out the requisite paperwork to replace his position. On Monday I'll get his address from HR and send his wife and family a floral arrangement with the company's deepest sympathies. I'll arrange for an HR specialist to call his wife and set up benefits. I will respectfully attend the funeral. And then, as though I were looped on soma I will go back to work and pretend that I care about our customer satisfaction surveys, resolution statistics, new product meetings, and upper management perception.

All I knew about Joel was that he had a military background and that he liked to work with computers. He got along well with his peers and did his work with no complaint. Joel was a quiet, compliant, positive person who didn't need my attention as a manager.

Now he's irreplaceable.