Know your people – a story about Gladys and Ruth

August 31, 2010

Gladys [not her real name] is the “Front End” supervisor of one of the large “box” retailers.  As such she oversees all of the cashiers and their shift supervisors.  Gladys had been coming increasingly concerned about the continual tardiness of one of her veteran cashiers, [Ruth].  As time went on Gladys began planning out how she was going to approach the discipline and probable discharge of Ruth – something she did not relish at all, but felt was unavoidable.

During this same time, Gladys was attending the Human Resources class I was teaching in an MBA program and was reading the book, The Way of the Shepherd.  The first principle in the book is “Know the Condition of your Flock”.  Gladys took this to heart and began meeting one-on-one with all of her staff which is quite a few people.  When it came time to meet with Ruth, Gladys discovered that Ruth’s husband was bed-ridden and they could not afford a nurse to stay with him.  Ruth was under tremendous pressure taking care of her husband, running their household, working, dealing with financial pressures and on and on.  Instead of a poor worker, Gladys found someone who was working tremendously hard and under incredible pressure and not knowing how to cope.

Fortunately, Gladys’ employer has many employee friendly policies and benefits.  Working with Ruth, Gladys was able to change her work schedule to be more flexible as well as introduce her to several programs that the company has that are designed to help those that are in distress.

Just by taking the time to get to know her people, Gladys averted a situation that would have been devastating to Ruth and her family and instead she was able to be a blessing to them.

So – do you really know your people?  Do you really understand the burdens they are carrying?  And this is the hard question – do you really, deep down, care?

As leaders who are followers of Christ, we are called to care – we are called to be shepherds of those under our care.  Get to know your “flock” and be an instrument of grace in their lives.