Patience, Patience, Patience
Personnel Vignettes, a regular feature, is submitted by various personnel executives without attribution at their request.
In dealing with personnel problems, as in other pursuits in life, patience is often a virtue.
One of our Mailroom drivers came to us one day in confidence to tell us that three of his co-workers were dealing drugs, both on the job and off. We were greatly concerned because our informant was a retired fireman with an unimpeachable character. Still, because he was concerned for his safety, he was both reluctant and unable to give us information specific enough to act on.
Our concern was heightened because we were aware that the Mailroom job could be a drug dealer's paradise. Our drivers are on the road all the time, driving our vans which seemed to be the perfect cover for this kind of illegal activity. They travel regular routes under no direct supervision. What an ideal place to set up a sideline drug distribution system!
We made contact with the local police department for guidance. They briefly considered placing an undercover officer in the Mailroom but the idea was abandoned because of a manpower shortage. We were advised to hire a private investigator.
We did engage the services of such a firm and, as the first step in the process, the private detective came on company property one night with a canine trained in drug detection. No drugs were discovered but the dog sniffed out drug residue in three company vans and in a men's room. The three vans were those being driven regularly by our three suspects. Our informant's information was now confirmed. Drugs were being handled in and on company property but no actual evidence was discovered on which we could act.
Next, we arranged for the private detective to assign an undercover investigator, although this solution was considered less than ideal because of the time and cost and the uncertainty of the final result. We also decided to launch an investigation with the state department of motor vehicles to ascertain the current status of each Mailroom employee's driver's license.
As these efforts were being pursued, two of the suspected individuals became involved in an argument over money which led to a brawl in the Mailroom. We assume that their fight probably involved a dispute over drug money. Whatever the case, we were given an unexpected opportunity to act. We were able to fire two of the suspects for committing an offense which, under company policy, allows us to summarily fire persons involved in fighting on company property.
Within days of this event, we learned from the state that the third suspect in our investigation was driving on a recently suspended license, a fact which he had neglected to report to his supervisors. We were now able to terminate this person for a breach of policy.
These events gave us serendipitous causes for taking the actions we did and we were able to conclude our investigation with the private investigator and resolve a difficult and potentially dangerous situation.
Patience can be its own reward in handling troublesome personnel situations. By allowing this situation to mature while taking careful and effective action, the right solutions soon presented themselves. Our patience paid off.
Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 9, 9/90
First published on 09/01/1990