People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Been There. Done That.

There is an interesting article in the Roanoke Times this morning - a kind of Ask The Expert column - regarding employees who stink. Perhaps, if you've never had to sit down with a subordinate and break the news to him or her that co-workers were on the verge of passing out because of that employee's revolting body odor, you won't find it as entertaining as I did, but to each his own.

The column was written by Camile Wright Miller and is entitled, "Boss should address problem of body odor." (link) I thought Ms. Miller would take the Oprah approach and caution supervisors to not bruise the fragile psyche of the offending worker, but instead she is rather straightforward in the manner in which she advises her readers to deal with such a problem. First the problem:
Q: We have a dilemma in our office that we don't know how to handle. A new employee has body odor. Not just 'deodorant gone wrong' odor. We're talking 'not bathing/not washing clothes' odor.

We don't want to offend her or hurt her feelings. We're in a very small office. We don't have a human resources department to handle this. Any suggestions on how to let her know?
There are a number of ways to deal with this kind of issue, for those bosses who actually are willing to confront such a problem (many would rather die). Few of those ways are as effective as just being straight up with the employee.

Ms. Miller first touches on what doesn't work:
Well, hints don't work. Those who are the focus of hints are usually unaware they're the problem. They don't even try to read the subtle messages.

For the same reason, broad messages don't work.
Then she lays out the only real means by which to solve the problem:
The manager/owner invites the offender into a conversation. The opener is, "Your work has been good. You're learning the job nicely. I have a concern, though. You're probably unaware you have a noticeable body odor. It may be a lack of showering daily or washing your clothes after each wearing. It may be a medical problem. I'm not sure. Is there something I can do to help you address the problem so others are more comfortable being near you?"
If nothing else is said, the words, "you have a noticeable body odor" have to be stated.

The fact that the person involved here is female necessarily changes the approach one must take but her answer is dead on. The employee smells. She is offending her co-workers. She must bathe more often. You must get that message to her in as clear and concise a way as possible.

I've been involved in this kind of one-on-one with employees a few times in my life. Conversations with a subordinate about personal hygiene are not pleasant. But they come with the territory. You have an obligation to your employees to make the work environment free of foul odors - just as you have an obligation to tell an employee to turn off the radio blasting foul music - rap comes to mind.

To Camile Wright Miller a message: You go, girl. I couldn't agree with you more.

It Could Happen Here

God help us if some environmentalist finds an "endangered" species here in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. We have enough problems here with employers closing their doors forever and moving jobs to China.

For those of you who think I overstate the potential calamity, tell it to the residents of Forks, Washington. Or, more accurately, former residents. From an article in this morning's Wall Street Journal:
The spotted owl has become for property owners the poster child of everything wrong with the 1973 Endangered Species Act. That law has taken a toll on thousands of communities, yet there was something about the scope of the spotted-owl action -- the speed with which it brought an entire region to its knees -- that brought home how badly the law had gone wrong. One minute, the Western timber industry was proudly tending the timber stands that had built the nation. The next minute, poof, and it was pretty much all gone! -- the owl landed on the species list in 1990, and the Clinton administration effected an 80% cut in logging on 24 million acres in Washington, Oregon and California.

Northwesterners have taken to referring to this debacle as their own "Katrina," and with some merit. According to a congressional committee, the spotted owl protections resulted in at least 130,000 lost jobs, after more than 900 sawmills, pulp mills and paper mills closed in the mid-'90s. Many of these were family businesses and the effect on small communities was severe. Divorce rates shot up; men committed suicide. Places like Forks, Washington, near where Mr. Hurn lives, waned as people migrated to Canada for work. "Forks used to be the logging capital of the world," says Mr. Hurn, now 67. (link requires subscription)
I've read stories about property owners who have clandestinely killed off "endangered" plants and animals that were found in their farm fields - weeds, toads, newts, bugs - out of fear that they would lose control of their place of business. I'm sure the environmentalists and their pals in the Democratic Party never meant for that to happen but, to me, the farmers' response is perfectly understandable, predictable - and supportable.

For those of you who intend to make it your life's calling to Save The Bugs!, understand this: There is no more fundamental right of the citizenry here in the United States of America than that of private property ownership. When you take it upon yourself to intrude on that right, you'd better come to grips with - and learn to accept - the consequences.

It's About Time

I'm surprised this isn't the story of the day:


WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Department boss Michael Chertoff told Congress yesterday that there will be a zero-tolerance policy for illegal immigrants in the United States.

"Return every single illegal entrant," Chertoff said in prepared testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Chertoff vowed to end the "catch and release" policy that has allowed tens of thousands of illegal aliens to disappear within the United States. (link)

Leftists in this country will call it a racist act. Normal people will call it enforcing the law. As far as I'm concerned, we should increase the quotas of legal immigrants from South and Central America - we need the employees - but we don't need people coming to the USA who immediately start breaking our laws.