“We have to take care of our own.”

When Group Leader Ed Keller opted for early retirement, George Kaplan kept expecting to hear the good news from Maintenance Supervisor John McDermott that his promotion to Keller's job was official. But weeks dragged by with no word from his boss.
By Raymond Dreyfack April 1, 1999

When Group Leader Ed Keller opted for early retirement, George Kaplan kept expecting to hear the good news from Maintenance Supervisor John McDermott that his promotion to Keller’s job was official. But weeks dragged by with no word from his boss. Keller left and still nothing was said. Kaplan, a top rated worker, tried hard not to become bitter. There was no question in his mind that he was the person who was best qualified for the promotion. He was also next in line from the standpoint of seniority. On top of that, McDermott had promised him the job. So what was holding it up?

When he found out, he was stunned to learn that Pat Reilly had been appointed group leader. Barely able to restrain his anger at the injustice, he stormed into McDermott’s office.

“What’s going on?” he demanded.

McDermott’s coolness was in strong contrast to Kaplan’s heat. “What do you mean?”

“You promised me that group leader job.”

“Oh, that. I checked the records. Pat’s performance has been outstanding. I decided to give him a crack at it.”

“I’m better qualified than Pat and you know it. I’m also the senior man. You only gave him the job because you are a couple of Irish drinking buddies. It’s not fair.”

McDermott sighed. “Life’s not always fair. I’m sure you understand, George. There’s nothing personal involved. You’re a good worker, and I like you personally, but a man has to take care of his own, if you know what I mean.”

Kaplan’s lips tightened. It was a supreme effort not to blow. “Yes, I do.” He added, “A man has to take care of himself too.” Kaplan took off for Plant Engineer Bill Daly’s office.

Question: In Daly’s place, how would you respond?

Daly’s decision: Bill Daly summoned McDermott to his office and reviewed Kaplan’s and Reilly’s employment and performance records.

That done, he said, “Kaplan’s clearly the senior and best qualified employee. Why did you select Reilly?”

“Pat’s done an outstanding — “

“Bull!” Daly cut him short. “We both know why you chose Reilly. I want Kaplan to get that promotion. All things being equal, the only criterion we accept here is performance. There’s no place in this plant for prejudice. I’d advise you to keep that in mind for the future, or you can start job hunting yourself.”