Laxity for poor attendance inevitably backfires

Maintenance Foreman Carl Ross had just about had it with Electrician Grade II Joe Dalton. Ross had lost track of the number of times he had reasoned with, appealed to, and warned Dalton about his poor attendance.
By Raymond Dreyfack April 1, 1999

Maintenance Foreman Carl Ross had just about had it with Electrician Grade II Joe Dalton. Ross had lost track of the number of times he had reasoned with, appealed to, and warned Dalton about his poor attendance. By now the supervisor was convinced the guy’s promises to reform were meaningless and would remain that way.

Dalton’s personnel file included an unacceptable number of absences over the past year or more, not to mention an excessive amount of latenesses as well. The file also revealed five written warnings and two suspensions in recent months.

One morning after the electrician returned from another two-day absence, Ross summoned him to his desk.

“Yeah, I know,” Dalton anticipated, “you’re gonna bawl me out again for being absent.”

“Wrong, pal. I’ve bawled you out one time too many already. This time I’m letting you go.”

“Hey, wait a minute. What’s the big deal? Lots of guys are absent as much as me. You haven’t fired anyone yet.”

“It’s about time I started. I can’t run a department with people taking off whenever they feel like it.”

“Yeah, well I’m not sitting still for this. I could name half a dozen guys whose records are as bad as mine.”

Question: Dalton’s discharge is apparently long overdue. Do you think he can beat the rap?

Eagleton’s verdict: Ross filled in Plant Engineer Phil Eagleton on Dalton’s resolve to fight his dismissal.

“Is his allegation correct?” Eagleton asked. “Do others in the department have records as bad or worse than his?”

“Maybe so. But I figure it’s about time I start clamping down and showing those characters I mean business.”

“From the looks of things, you should have started clamping down long ago. To start at this late date, you have to do it in an equal and unprejudiced way. Put a notice on the bulletin board that following a disciplinary procedure of warnings and suspensions, continued poor attendance will result in dismissal. That way chronic absentees will know what to expect. So far as Dalton is concerned, I suggest suspending him once more with a final notice warning him that one more incident will result in termination.”