"HE SAID, SHE SAID."
How many times does one have to make the determination of which story to believe? A recent example involved a person who had a confrontation with another person and told his version of the incident to the supervisor. The supervisor naturally believed the first person and castigated the other person--although not by name--in a daily meeting.
As I had been involved in hearing about the confrontation from the second person, I notified the supervisor that the second person had a decidedly different version. After the supervisor had talked to the second person, the supervisor asked me, "Which one would you believe?" Without missing a beat, I answered, "I believe the good worker."
The supervisor asked me to talk to the second person to let her know that she was not in trouble because she didn't know which one to believe.
I asked the person why she hadn't gone to the supervisor about the confrontation. She said, "Well, I didn't think he would go and tell a lie."
I said, "I don't usually give advice but I'm going to tell you a story about why it's important to always be the first person to tell, even if you are in the wrong." I told her the following story:
As a young supervisor I was in charge of Shipping and Receiving and I was ready to leave for the day, having finished loading all the trucks. As I walked through the warehouse, I saw a load marked CLEVELAND/DETROIT setting in the staging area. I looked in the dock and saw that the truck for that load had left. I ran to get the paperwork and those units had not been marked off as having been loaded; but no matter, the truck was gone.
I was in a panic, and I stewed and fretted, but then, with great fear and trepidation, I went to my boss and told him what had happened. He immediately spun around in his chair, dialed the telephone, and told the customer the situation and told them we'd get another truck there quickly. He called and made arrangements for another truck. I was thinking of the extra cost associated with having to do that and I was nearly trembling in fear that I was about to lose my job because of such a careless mistake by my employee.
My boss asked, "So how long did it take you to come to tell me?" I answered, sheepishly, "20 minutes." He said, "Well, you've probably punished yourself enough already, but here's a lesson for life: ALWAYS BE THE FIRST TO TELL because I would have been really pissed off if the customer had been the one who told me about the mistake and not you."
I breathed an inward sigh of relief.
He said, "Well, you'll have to stay to load it." I said, "I can't do that; we'll have a grievance." He threw his head back, laughed, and said, "Yeah, I'd like to see that, especially compared to what discipline you'll be taking with the screw-up who forgot to load it!"
There was no grievance.