Yesterday as I thought about returning to work I remembered back to an event when I worked as a Training Instructor at Cummins Engine Company Ltd. In Shotts. I had completed my apprenticeship and this was my job on graduation. It was a great job too, it had so much variety. The Training Department was part of the Personnel Department so at times I was involved in payroll and timekeeping etc. Sometimes I assisted at reception, I conducted Plant Tours for Schools, Colleges and Universities, I loved the variety. The main function of my job was training. There were 5 of us in the training department. My responsibilities mainly lay with the Technical Apprentice’s programme and training on computer systems. Cummins’ is a global producer of diesel engines and in those days we didn’t have the internet, I know it sounds like the dark ages, it’s hard to remember a time before www. Anyway, I digress. My supervisor Claire and I were responsible for training staff in both the offices and shop floor on a computer system called, Total Office Support System. It was used similarly to Outlooks, for messaging and calendar. It was the main way employees kept in touch with each other not just in the Shott’s Plant but around the world. It really was an impressive program. Now some of you have already noticed what Total Office Support System was reduced to in everyday talk, T.O.S.S. and people used to say things like, “I’ll TOSS you later”, etc. I swear some high tech programmer knew exactly what people would be saying and probably laughed his or her way through coding.
As well as training staff we were like a help desk for problems employees had with T.O.S.S. the main calls were due to people forgetting passwords and as the system forced you monthly to change your password it was a regular occurrence. It was often a very simple solution and we didn’t have to request a new password. Forgive me if I make this easy to understand but say my last password was 12345 and I selected ABCD as my new password. When this was typed into the screen what the user didn’t see was that the 5 although not visible was still in the system so the new password was set to ABCD5. Once people knew that when entering a new password they hit the delete key it reduced the calls about passwords. Now one day I was in the office and there was a call from the General Manager of the Plant, it happened that the General Director, Jim Henderson, was over from Columbus Indiana and he couldn’t get into his T.O.S.S. account. I am sure the sense of urgency of this call doesn’t need explained. Claire was not around and I said I would be right over. I met them within seconds, the office was not far from his and when Jim explained he had changed his password and couldn’t get back in I asked him to put in his last password then move the cursor back to the beginning of the field and type in his new password. As if by magic his account opened and he was overjoyed. I briefly explained what happened with passwords and he took that in and thanked me and I left. When Claire returned to the office shortly after I told her what happened and she was pissed. Questions like why hadn’t I waited why hadn’t I gone looking for her etc. Let me give you some perspective on the size of the plant to walk round the plant was about a mile, she could have been tannoyed, public announcement system, for but she could have been anywhere in the plant.
Rather than being able to enjoy that her training had been able to help the Company Director and to see that must have reflected well on our Department she was annoyed that her moment of glory had been stolen. If she had taken a moment to consider things I think she would have seen this was a good thing for the Department. Ego got in the way. Jealousy in the workplace can be a real issue, but this is playground behaviour, there really is no place for it in the business world. So today will you consider your actions and reactions, business can be far more dog eat dog these days, I know. It can force people to hold onto information so that they feel they are irreplaceable. But here’s the thing, it’s actually a lie. If you are laid low with illness the company will continue, true if you are holding some important information to yourself, the company might struggle but it will continue. You know this, I know you do, you are an intelligent person. So give up on some ego and rejoice in others victories, especially if you have helped enable those, it reflects on you positively.