Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Lunchroom

How much trouble could a lunchroom possibly be?  I was wondering about this because I kept hearing people mention the lunchroom whenever they took to complaining.  So I decided to look into it further and began asking about it.

It turns out that the company needed more office space.  They had two lunchrooms, a small one accessible through the office, and a larger one accessible from the warehouse.  So they decided to build a new lunchroom for the warehouse, and demolished the old one and turned it into office space.  While construction was going on everyone would share the small office lunchroom.  Unfortunately they started the construction without the proper permits, and got caught by the building inspector, who shut down construction on the new lunchroom.

A week or two earlier we had hired a new department manager to oversee the new manufacturing operation I was setting up.  I found him and told him I had a wonderful opportunity for him, he could finish the lunchroom!  He said he didn't know anything about construction, and why did I think the lunchroom was important to him?  I explained that the lunchroom was a sore spot with everyone from the CEO to the janitor. With everyone sharing one tiny lunch room the office people were upset about the crowding, and the warehouse people were upset about feeling unwanted.  Tempers were pretty short around lunch time.  So fixing this problem would take him from new guy to home town hero.

I also explained that he was the perfect person for this task, because he was brand new.  So he could talk to the building inspector and plead for mercy, because he had gotten this job dumped on him, and besides he knows nothing about construction!  I told him that the building inspector doesn't have an axe to grind with him, like he does with everyone else here.  So all you need to do is listen carefully and do exactly what he says.  I also suggested he ask the inspector for the names of some local contractors he might recommend.  Using one of them might ease the way towards getting a Certificate of Occupancy.

He contacted the building inspector and then met with him.  It turns out the inspector was worried about the lunchroom collapsing, because a beam under it was improperly installed!  He gave him a list of the violations that needed to be fixed, and the names of three contractors we might use.  We got prices from all three, and time estimates too.  Then we used those time estimates to estimate how long it would take our one maintenance employee to complete the work, working only the few hours a week he had available.

The manager went to the CEO with this proposal.  "We can finish the lunchroom in six to eight months using our own employees, at a cost of about $3,000.  Or we can hire a contractor recommended by the building inspector and be guaranteed the job will pass inspection in just two weeks, for $3,500."  After a year of foot dragging and complaints the CEO gave the go ahead for the contractor to finish the job.  The manager got a round of applause in the new lunchroom the first day it opened.  It wasn't his problem, but he solved it to the benefit of everyone, now when he needs a hand with getting something done people remember and step up to help.

1 comment: