With the swine flu taking hold and a lot of people getting sick, people have a decision to make. Anyone who has a job certainly wants to protect that job and not do anything that might jeopardize it and that includes whether to go to work or not when they are sick.
I have spent more than 50 years in sales and sales management and have seen a lot of things go on in many different companies — some good and some BAD. I say BAD because I have had bosses who wanted me to be at work whether I was sick or not. It didn’t make any difference whether I was infecting the rest of the employees. I hope that things have gotten better in the workplace today but as far as I can see the difference is still the type of management involved.
A good manager certainly does not want you coming to work and making everyone else sick and causing a bigger problem for the company. A weak manager is so worried about losing HIS job that he makes bad decisions some times.
I’ll never forget when I was working for Bandag Inc., the largest tire retreading company in the world, an international company that had 75 percent of the market share. was lucky enough to be in on the ground floor of that company.
I got up one morning, when we lived in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area, and was supposed to fly to Moline, Ill. and then drive to Muscatine, Iowa, for a management meeting. I was a district sales manager at the time responsible for about 25 manufacturing plants in the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana area. I woke up this particular morning with a very sore throat, which I frequently had every winter when we lived in this area. I canceled my flight and called my boss and told him that I was sick and was not making this trip.
Well, he would have none of this and told me to get in my car and drive to the meeting, which was more than 500 miles away. Well, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but I got in my car and drove to my mother’s home in Northern Illinois and slept for a couple hours and then drove the final 100 miles to Muscatine in time to make the meeting at 8 the next morning. I can remember saying some not too complimentary things about my boss all the way to this meeting. Little did I know, until I got to this meeting, that I was to receive some sales awards at this meeting and that was the main reason that he wanted me to be at this meeting.
I quit thinking all those bad things after I received all those great awards and was soon promoted to a division sales manager responsible for over 100 manufacturing plants throughout the entire Midwest! Even so, I probably shouldn’t have made that trip and I probably did make other employees ill, as a result.
A different situation with the same company comes to my mind that I definitely will never forget. This time, I was already at a management meeting and got very ill. It sounds like that I am getting sick a lot but that was not really the case. This time, the vice president of Sales (the job I always wanted) found out that I was sick and called my motel room and told me that he was having me sent home to the Detroit area. He had me picked up and taken to the company plane (a Lear Jet) and flew me to the Detroit airport and even took me to my car in the parking lot! Do you see why I will never forget this act of kindness?
To this day, I would do anything for this man, who is still living and in his 90s. I have his picture with me and the Lear Jet in my insurance office and see it every time that I enter and leave my office. That is how you treat employees and get their loyalty. Incidentally, I never did get that VP of sales job that I wanted, but I came very close.
If you are a boss to someone, do what is right for your company, not just right for you, especially at this time with swine flu becoming so widespread and becoming so dangerous that people are dying from it.
If you have swine flu, I recommend that you stay home from work and not be one of those making this pandemic even worse than it is at present. Don’t become a statistic yourself or make someone else one even if you have an unreasonable boss. I don’t want you infecting me or others like me that don’t need this additional medical problem. Use that soap and water and hand sanitizer at every opportunity, like every health organization is recommending. It just might result in saving someone’s life.
Written by Ted Anderson. Insurance agent Ted W. Anderson worked in sales for half a century, has lived in Albany since 1993. He is president of Dover Lane Neighborhood Watch. Send email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.