Don’t Be a Fair Weather Colleague
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
I was beyond surprised when one of my colleagues made this comment about our team lead:
“Just you wait until our conversion date, when times get tough she will flake out. I can tell you right now that she will not be there when things get down and dirty.”
“Really?” I said.”But she is the lead over an important part of the conversion. How can she do that?”
My colleague responded, “Well she has been doing it for years, I do not see why she will stop now.”
I really thought my colleague was wrong and just did not like our team lead. I had forgotten that they had worked together for several years. Sure enough on the day of the conversion (which I was not scheduled to work), my phone rang and it was our manager. He informed me that our team lead had called in sick to the conversion and he needed me to come in and take her place. I was the only one who was in the least bit surprised. He was not surprised and her peers were not surprised. I did not know it, but bringing me in on the day of the conversion was always part of the plan. To this day I cannot understand why someone with that type of track record was repeatedly placed in a lead position. I also do not understand why there was not more honesty and transparency around the situation. Apparently even though everyone (but me) knew that this woman would flake out, nobody wanted to say it or put it in writing. A whole group of people pretended that she would show up, yet assumed that I would be available to come in when she did not show up.
My former team lead is an example of a fair weather employee. She was happy to participate in the celebrations and accept recognition. She was not willing to be part of anything that required too much stress or strain. In hindsight I realized that the signs were there. For example, when a difficult problem surfaced during conversion planning she would walk away. She would say something like, “Oh there are enough smart people here already, and you do not need me to muddy the waters.” She was quick to take credit for the solution and she was quick to present the solution in public.
If there was difficult news to share with management or a client, she would schedule that time off and appoint someone else as her delegate. Once the news was delivered and things settled down she would jump back into the loop.
You have probably heard the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. She got going alright, going away from the tough work and into hiding until the tough work was accomplished. Funny thing, her health prevented her from showing up for weekend work and difficult client meetings, but she was always well enough to attend a congratulatory party.
She was happy to ride in the limousine but there was no way she was going to take the bus.
Here’s to all of you who show up for the ride, especially when the limo is broken.
Posted: July 23rd, 2012 under Leadership, Personal Development, Professional development, Team Member Behavior.
Tags: fair weather colleague, fair weather employee, fair weather friend, flake out, the tough get going, When the going gets tough
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