‚Well I am definitely at my wit’s end,’ Paul breathes in deeply and lets out a lengthy whistle. He walks over to the sideboard and pours himself a whiskey, adds ice cubes and pulls out a chair at his dining room table. His rucksack lays there – not giving him any other choice but to open it and pull out today’s notes from the meeting. It was going to be a long, unwished for evening. He just had to come up with a solution, or maybe two, but no more. He set himself a deadline, no more mercy or procrastination.
Project Eco Track had started off registered with the international circuit dealing with climate control. Paul had set up a team of 5 to research what countries were doing on their own and what could be done with the help of Paul’s private company, Air Deluxe.
Paul Antoinen, a philanthropist, had taken several days to find a good name for this company. As for the project itself, today’s actual concerns worldwide left no doubt in his mind where he would like to invest his money. The project has been under way for nearly a year. They wished to be finished with this project in two years. The halfway point was approaching. He knew his team, at least he thought he did, but after the past few months and then today’s meeting, ouch. Paul downed his whiskey, shook his head and decided on a refill.
He glanced through his notes, picked up a pen and wrote down the team members’ names. Jane, Ramona, Amancio, Tom and Simon. Jane and Ramona were working fine together. Amancio, Tom and Simon were having problems. Jane had taken on the leadership of the team. The question arose: Was she considered a problem? I have an open door; no one has put up any complaints until now. Amancio, being Cuban, has some problems with the language, but so does Ramona, being from Curaçao. Tom and Simon, mmh. Today I did feel a bit of tension between them, then I tossed it out thinking I’m imagining things.
Notes: Jane and Ramona have taken on contacts in France, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom. Several ideas have arisen through their networking which look to be very promising at helping to achieve a purer climate. Amancio has taken on contacts in the southern hemisphere: Australia, Indonesia and Brazil. I found his report today to be quite interesting, whereas Tom and Simon’s reports on their contacts with Russia, the Netherlands and Sweden were, mildly speaking, a disappointment. Simon feels we need to add to the team to reach more countries. All members have expanded their networking beyond the mentioned countries.
Amancio was very excited about a new gadget he discovered through his contacts. He said he’d do some more investigating before he gave away any details. Tom has asked for time off; perhaps it’s a good idea for him to clear his head. He can be quite stubborn at times. Too bad, he’s really good at his job, but I’m beginning to think he’s not such a good team player. Perhaps he’d rather have been in charge of the whole team! He also did not look well at all today. Simon remains Simon, a peacemaker in the making. He’ll take on the ‚dirty jobs’ such as running after the contacts, pulling the pieces together which the others have just thrown out into the open while expecting someone to find some order of arrangement.
Paul decided he’d speak with Simon and Tom separately, maybe the talks would put some new light on what seems to have been hidden from him. He prayed they would.
Emails were written and times set aside for the talks the following day. He also considered speaking to Jane and Ramona individually. Amancio, Paul told himself that he had to be left alone until Amancio came forth with his latest research results. Now finally the day was at its end, he could and would have a restful and deep sleep.
‚Good morning, Simon.’
‚Good morning, Paul. How are you?’
‚Fine, thanks. Have a seat please. Simon, the reason I have called you in this morning is my concern that the team seems to be less congenial these last few months. Can you tell me what your feelings have been? Have there been any conflicts between any of you that you are aware of? I did jot down that you feel we need to enlarge the team. I can understand that, but I feel something else is causing problems.’
‚Our team was working fine until about six weeks ago. Both Amancio and Tom are pretty stubborn in their attitudes, especially Tom. Tom seems to be fighting demons that really do not exist by us. He refuses to talk about his private life. He has also taken more time off, explaining he has private business to attend to. He also goes behind Jane’s back and tries to dictate exactly what Amancio should do. But Amancio rebells and with right. I try to keep a calm demeanour. If he is left alone, Tom will quietly go about his work, but Amancio expects him to excuse his behaviour. I eventually tell him to just do what he has started to do, to pay no attention to what Tom says.’
‚Thank you Simon for your honest view. Have you discussed this at all with Jane?’
‚No, I haven’t. I don’t think Amancio has either as this is a more recent incident.’
‚Good. I’ll look into this.’ He opens the door for Simon, Simon nods his head in agreement. Paul looks at his watch. He has an hour before Tom arrives. He walks to the cantine to drink a coffee. He meets other employees in his short walk. ‚Hi Karla, have a nice day!’ Good morning Andreas, catch up with you later!’ ‚Excuse me, Manuel. I need to see you today. How about after lunch, or shall we have it together?’ ‚Sorry Paul, I won’t be free until 4 p.m. this afternoon.’ ‚Right. See you at 4!’ Aah coffee, he sips his black coffee and runs through diverse scenarios on how to approach Tom without making matters worse.
There’s a knock at his door. Paul gets up, opens the door and greets Tom. Tom takes the offered seat. He appears a little bit ruffled.
‚Tom, I’ve asked to see you as I had a slightly bad feeling after our meeting yesterday. Can you give me any explanation as to what’s happening within the team? Is it possible that I imagined this feeling? I cannot really complain about anyone’s reports, but I felt a touch low with the reports from you and Simon.’
‚Well, you have put me in a spot now. I do my work and I am conscientious. I may have put some pressure on Amancio, but his quizzing me and Simon really gets on my nerves. I’ve tried to direct him because I don’t believe Jane has been a help to him. Our workload seems to have increased, we do not find the time to answer all of our contacts. I try to set priorities but I’m totally stressed out to be honest. My doctor has advised me to slow down. He feels that I am close to suffering from a burnout. I realised that our halfway deadline is near, that we should be enlarging our network and be coming forth with new ideas but shit, there’s no time for this. I told you yesterday that I needed time off. I plan on taking two weeks off. If you claim it cannot be done, I’ll have to just say goodbye.’
‚Whoa there Tom, why haven’t you said something before? Why have you waited until I notice something is amiss? If teamwork has been a problem, it really should have been brought to my attention. Have you discussed this with Jane? Don’t you have meetings together and discuss what’s been happening? How you are getting on? Is Jane the culprit here?’
‚We do get together but we haven’t really taken the time to discuss how we’re responding to our tasks. We are really too overloaded. That’s why Simon requested more team members yesterday.’
Paul says, ‚Yes, I see. So I will do something about that. Now tell me why I haven’t heard about your illness. It sounds pretty serious to me. You’ve worked here for the last five-six years Tom. You know we try to work on keeping a balance in our lives. Our position on a healthy work atmosphere has not changed. It would have helped all of the team if you had not been so stubborn and attempted to do things alone. Getting Amancio upset over team leadership has not helped matters. In answer to the question you’re asking yourself: No, he hasn’t said anything to me, or as far as I know to Jane.
I am as excited to hear the results of his new lead as he is and by the way as you should be too. Wouldn’t you agree to that Tom?’
‚Well, yes, I do see your point. And I apologize.’
‚Tom, you are a valued person in our team. I want you to know that. I also admire your steadfastness to a point. But ruining your health is out of the question, do understand that. I wish you a good, relaxing two-week out time!’
‚Thank you Paul. I hope to come back to work in a better frame of mind. My good luck to the team. Simon will be keeping in touch with my contacts.'
Both wearing smiles, Paul and Tom shake hands. There’s a knock at the door. Tom exits, business carries on as usual. As the tension in Paul disappears, he breathes in relief and congratulates himself on solving yesterday’s dilemma. On the other side of the door, Tom smiles at the world, happy that this talk went so well as he admits to himself what an idiot he was: We can’t all be perfect, can we?