From November until March in the UK, it seems like we get severe weather warnings every other week. They are mostly national rather than regional, meaning that they are pretty useless since in the North of the UK there may be deep snow in the winter, yet in the South (where I live) we only seem to get a flurry of snow and very bad winters once or twice a decade.
This week, there was yet another warning of deep snow and freezing temperatures, with warnings of severe disruption to the travel network. It reminded me of something that happened to me about fifteen years ago when I was working in an office in Central London.
On that particular day, I was working with my manager and it had been snowing lightly non-stop since 5 in the morning. By lunch time the snow was coming down a lot faster and settling quickly. Trains were becoming delayed or cancelled and since I lived about thirty miles from the office and the train was my only way home, I began to worry.
At 3 O’clock in the afternoon there was an announcement on the radio that severe weather was on its way and not to make any non-essential journeys. I asked my manager if it was ok for me to leave early, I offered to take the time off as holiday and to try and work from a branch office closer to home the following day.
When he said I couldn’t, I laughed out loud because I thought he was joking. But he wasn’t. I explained again, that if I left it much longer I might not get home at all. “Sleep in the office then.” He said. I was shocked and very disappointed. I finally left the office at 5 and luckily managed to get a lift home from a colleague whose manager had organised the use of ‘pool cars’ to get his team home. My train had in fact been cancelled.
Up until then, I had respected my manager. However following that incident I saw him in a completely different light. I realised that he didn’t actually make balanced decisions; he either said ‘yes’ if it was day to day business related and ‘no’ if it was something that was out of the ordinary or warranted a leadership decision.
I believe that an employer has a responsibility not only to ensure that their employees are safe but also to respect their work/life balance. I also believe that respect goes both ways and with respect comes commitment.
For my manager on that day, commitment was to work and sleep in the office and getting home to my wife and family was my problem, not his.
Was he right?
What do you think commitment means, and just how committed should we be?
Until next time,