Tommy’s Sticky Situation

by Shaun Kieran

Sure, Tommy knew the situation was probably going to be “a little sticky,” but until now he’d always been confident,  approaching cocky, and was pretty sure he could handle almost anything.  “Wrong,” said Tommy while shaking his head.

Tommy was a foreman for one of the larger construction companies in the city, and proud that his crew was one of its best: solid and reliable – very little personnel churn.

But now – this  new guy was ruining everything.

Nepotism.  The new guy was the son of one of the “silent” owners no one had ever seen or even heard of before, but he obviously had the clout to force his son onto Tommy’s crew. There was no explanation, just a little eye-rolling by the direct boss who said there was a history to the situation that “you probably don’t want to know about.”

The new guy could be a strong worker – “on one of his good days” – but he had trouble showing up on time, often took extended breaks, tended to mouth off, even pushed being outright insubordinate, and was generally a “pain in the ass to be around.”

Even more sticky was the distinct possibility that the guy had a substance abuse problem, some sort of mental illness – or both.

Against his instinct, Tommy talked about how he’d “tried to schmooze the guy” – be upbeat, joke with him, look the other way sometime. He’d even taken him out for a beer after work and tried to have a heart-to-heart talk with him. Nothing. “He barely heard a word I said.”

Tommy wasn’t quite to the point where he feared actually losing his job, but he was coming to me because he was becoming disappointed in himself and a little worried that the bosses were either disappointed that “I haven’t fixed him,” or were noticing problems with the crew.

And it was affecting his crew.  “I’ve become a crappy supervisor… and it all happened so fast.”

Question:  Can Tommy get back on track?  Or should he start looking for another job?

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