Arrive On Time For Work Well Rested, Well Fed And Free Of Turmoil
January 10, 2005
Some employees, probably, have the consideration that it is OK to arrive for work with less than an adequate amount of food and sleep -- that they can get by OK. Standards about "arriving on time" are more likely to be followed, but once a group gets into non-standard behavior in any of these respects, the new behavior seems to become "standard."
Thus, it is not uncommon for the level of ethics in a group to decline, as behavior drops below what should be standard. When that happens it would not be unusual that staff feel upset when management tries to "impose new rules!" These are not "new" rules, but they may seem new.
These non-standard behaviors may often be justified by the fact that THE standards were not written, or not clear. Yet, these standards, written or not, are simply the survival of any organization. If any organization has increasing sales on a regular basis, management can and should tread lightly on the small deviations from standard behavior. But, when the statistics go down, even slightly, one of the solutions is to "stiffen ethics" and that means to insist that standards become standard.
The theory behind this is simple. When you are hungry you cannot help but have SOME attention on the "hungry condition." That attention is actually not any different from the type of attention you would put on "handling an order" or "preparing a shipment." You could say that you are capable of putting a certain amount of "attention" ("attention units" ?) on something -- you put some attention on the time, some on the radio that might be playing, some on the phone call from a customer, some on any of hundreds of other things. You might be capable of putting attention on 1000 things while the next person gets bogged down trying to put attention on a dozen things -- but no matter HOW many things you can put your attention on, when you have SOME of that attention on your hunger, or a fight with your spouse before you left for work, or a mistake on a bill from your phone company, you have less attention to put on the matters of production on your job.
An unsuspected source of "attention grabbing" is to have many "incomplete tasks." You start doing task #1, don't finish, and start task #2, don't finish, and start task #3. You'll find that you have attention on every task you never finished. The more of these unfinished tasks you have the more attention is stuck away from whatever you are working on "right now." There is a world of good that can come from simply sitting down and writing a list of whatever occurs to you as "an unfinished task" including all those "unfinished tasks" in your personal life as well as at work.
We have a Company Policy of particularly finishing all the "week's work" on Friday: "End Of Week Tasks." You should not come to work on a Monday with Friday's work not finished.
A "full in-basket" is a tremendous source of attention fixed on "work not done."
When you have "too much" attention on these matters external to the Company, the statistics will suffer. When the statistics go down one of the normal methods of improving those statistics will be to investigate some of the common areas where people have stuck attention units, outside the standard business behavior, and get those attention units "freed up" so they can be applied to the business at hand.
"Stats are down?" Well, you should expect a manager to "notice" that you have been making personal phone calls on Company time, or bringing your bills to make out your check payments while at work. The manager notices a bunch of "cosmetic catalogs" on your desk, and can guess that you might be looking through them, or placing orders for stuff. This "notice" of those catalogs might be ignored when the stats are up, but be a matter of mention when the stats are down.
The staff in a booming organization will even exceed and improve on standard behavior, and follow that behavior whether statistics are up or down.
The executives in our Company have a special responsibility to serve as role models -- so an executive lateness, for instance, is far more serious than a lower level staff member's lateness. I wrote the Policy Executive Makeup to describe some of the standards of behavior for a person who is or wants to be an executive. Executives are typically people who work harder and longer hours than other staff members, and may feel all the more justified in bringing some of their personal business into the Company work hours -- the "role model" aspect of this is particularly harmful -- when "Bob Junior" sees "Nancy Manager" putting her attention on something personal then "Bob" feels that it must be OK. "Clock watching" is never an acceptable standard of behavior.
It is not OK, and we will remark about it particularly when the stats are down, but notice and say little when the stats are up.
This Company Policy lays out what we expect of any staff member throughout his employment relationship with us. This is standard expectation.
I expect that any staff member will agree with the observation that their work performance can be and usually is adversely affected if they fail to get an adequate amount of proteins and calories to start their work day, and that they should eat a good breakfast before starting to work.
Years ago I was appalled at what some staff members though was a "good breakfast." They, like many others, felt that a cup of coffee with a sweet roll was all that THEY needed. I so much disagreed with that consideration that I inaugurated a "free staff breakfast" every day that our housekeeper was on post and could cook. I encouraged each person to select a "good breakfast" of their choice and housekeeper Peggy served that. THIS part of the "staff breakfast" policy was generally successful.
These breakfasts proved popular -- and usually each staff member did request and consume an adequate breakfast, including proteins. Unfortunately the conversations at these group meetings sunk to a level of gossip and trivia, often including coarse language and I was reasonable in allowing that to continue.
Unfortunately, also, these staff meals changed gradually to being served later and later in the morning, usually because of my own personal schedule of when I was ready for breakfast. There were also delays caused by late arrivals of staff.
Unfortunately, these staff meals often consumed as much as an hour or more. Again, I often contributed to the length of time. I found the company of my friends, the staff, to be pleasant and contributed to conversations that stretched the meal time, often, to more than what has been needed for a good meal.
The cost of the meals was never a factor in my growing feeling that these meals could not continue to be provided. As our staff grew in size it seemed increasingly impractical to even seat the group at one table.
Obviously a staff member who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not in shape to work as well as not being well-fed. The rule on alcohol is "no alcohol less than 24 hours before scheduled work" is the rule -- warning and potential termination for violation.
Finally, I found that the statistics of the Company were bumping up and down, over a period of many years. Whenever there was a "down bump" in the statistics, the correct thing I should have done, as ED, or anyone else who acted as ED, was to apply a method of handling that included the phrase "stiffen ethics" in the group.
It was not a "stiffening of ethics" to continue to allow this very loose breakfast meal to detract from the personal responsibility each staff member has for arriving at work in the condition of being "well fed." Also, the time taken for these meals detracted from the productive hours expected in any usual job.
I decided to eliminate staff breakfasts because of the above factors. I announced that to Kimberly, then to Tracye (then ED), when I returned from my vacation, and now write this Company Policy to provide the full detail of what must now become the standard of acceptable
The expected standard of behavior is that every staff member is responsible for getting his own breakfast and that this meal include protein. It should not become a matter of debate as to what is an "adequate breakfast" but it is possible to give a "metabolism test" that measures the conditions both of "well fed" and "well rested."
I count on all staff to arrive for work in a personal condition of being well fed -- whatever meal that might involve.
We expect each staff member to get a "good night's rest" before coming to work. There can be all sorts of reasonable reasons why a person might not get a full measure of sleep on any one night or many nights. I call them "reasonable reasons" because babies cry at night, people go to parties and get home late, or have any number of other reasons that seem very reasonable for not getting a good sleep. "Good sleep" doesn't happen when you fall asleep at home watching TV or working on your home computer. "Good sleep" is planned and done.
I expect each person will have a personalized approach to what it takes to be "well rested" but the simple standard is "eight good hours of sleep." Perhaps 7 hours, now and then, is OK, but coming to work with 4 hours of sleep is so much NOT OK that the person should rather lose a day's pay and stay home. Obviously some number of these occurrences lead to termination.
The usual work schedule calls for forty hours of work during five days, or 8 hours per day.
"Work" does not include time taking for personal errands, meals or other such.
Also, the fact is that we are a GROUP and while each person has a special and separate role to play, we also do our work in interaction with others, including customers or others outside the Company.
Thus, an agreed-upon starting time and ending time are part of any successful organization. We simply start our work day at 9:00 AM. Someone who arrives at 9:01 AM is late. The condition of "lateness" is separate from "how much late."
In keeping with the "well fed" part of our expectations, we expect staff to take the necessary time to eat a lunch meal, and that time is not time spent working. In the past I had been willing to allow "eating at your desk" so that people could get through the work day more quickly.
Our standard is that you should take off time, during day, on some agreed and regular schedule, to eat lunch -- whether here on the premises, or elsewhere, and that you should take enough time to make that meal effective in providing good nourishment for the remainder of the day.
I am no longer willing to accept "eating while you work" or "eating at your desk" as standard and acceptable behavior. This IS a new standard and is also subject to the "tread lightly" and "stiffen ethics" concepts described above. When the statistics are down I do expect to see people paying more attention to getting a full eight hours of productive time doing their post. That does not leave room for eating at a desk. It is fine to take time off to eat, but that simply pushes the "end of work" time later.
A regular schedule from 9 AM to 6 PM would allow for a full hour of lunch time and eight hours of work. That would be the expected standard. If it fits the group productivity to change that to 8 AM to 5 PM, that would be OK, too. Any change would have to be approved by the ED and should not be done except on a reasonably permanent basis. The entire staff should be working during the work hours and only a few exceptions might be approved for some staff to work on a different schedule.
Free of Turmoil
It may not be very well appreciated how turmoil at home can cause distractions at work and actually affect sales and production. However, it is a central part of our management philosophy that such turmoil is often the primary cause of low productivity by a staff member, and that such turmoil often spreads its effect to others and, finally, becomes one of the primary causes statistics going down.
While the "turmoil at home" seems like a very personal matter, I do not regard any external turmoil in your life as "none of my business." Disputes among staff while at work fall into this same category -- there are methods of handling such disputes within our business technology.
Normally we do not need to inquire into a person's personal life, but when a person comes in late, or not well rested, or not well fed, or makes mistakes at work, or performs poorly, or expresses an unpleasant, angry, sad or other inappropriate attitude, I expect that person's senior, or the ED, to inquire into whether or not there is any turmoil in that staff member's life -- and I also expect the staff member to explain how that turmoil is being handled so there is no more of it.
An unhandled, long-term turmoil can be enough to require that the person be suspended until the situation is handled, or terminated if the person is unwilling or unable to handle that source of external distraction.
"Turmoil" can also take the form of idle gossip and trivial conversation in the workplace. People are interested in people, and it is not unusual for a person to want to talk to another staff member about the latest movie, or the baby's diet, etc. These, of course, are "non-business" subjects. They seem harmless, but they do take a person's attention away from business. Done in excess they can be very damaging to any business.
This freedom from personal turmoil has become one of the major features in our entire service to our public. I have written about "wrong relationships" which, in fact, often cause a person to become ill. The concept of "wrong relationships" is one of the major differences between Vibrant Life and most other companies selling health products. We regard "health" and "improved health" as what we try to deliver to our customers, but we recognize the "wrong relationship" concept as so senior to vitamins that we commonly tell people to handle the turmoil in their life or the vitamins are not likely to "work."
Official, Karl Loren
Quotes from L. Ron Hubbard are copyright 1994 © by the L. Ron Hubbard Library. All rights reserved.