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Introduction to the Employee at the Work Place

When we are gathering data, everywhere you go people are accommodating you, interrupting their work to help you do your work. The least you can do is show that you are willing to return the favor. When the time is not convenient, agree to come back later. Occasionally an employee will suggest that it is an inconvenient time and ask that you come back later. Sometimes, however, the employee is seriously inconvenienced but for some reason does not speak up about it. A sensitive analyst may notice this. However, to be on the safe side it helps to ask, "Is this a convenient time?" Coming back later is usually a minor problem. Typically you have a number of places to visit. Pick a more convenient time and return. Don't be surprised if the employee appreciates it and is waiting for you with materials set out when you return.

Whatever you do, don't start suspecting that every time a person puts you off that person is trying to scuttle your work or is a difficult employee. Assume the person is honestly inconvenienced and simply come back later. If someone puts you off repeatedly, it is still a minor inconvenience as long as you have data to collect elsewhere. Give the employees the benefit of the doubt, knowing that every time you accommodate them their debt to you grows. If you do in fact run into a genuinely uncooperative and eventually have to impose a time, it is nice to be able to remind that person of how many times you have rescheduled for his or her benefit. At such times you will also appreciate the project-announcement meeting when the senior executive brought everyone together, described the importance of the project and asked for support.

As you are about to start the interview the employee may bring up a subject for idle conversation such as the weather, a sports event, a new building renovation, etc. People often do this when they first meet in order to size up one another (on a subject that doesn't matter) before opening up on subjects that are important. Since the purpose, on the part of the employee, is to find out what you are like you will do well to join in the conversation politely and respectfully. Then when it has continued for an appropriate amount of time, shift to the subject of the interview, perhaps with a comment about not wanting to take up too much of the employee's time.


Most of the time analysts gather data from people at the operating levels who happen to be junior in status (i.e. file clerks, messengers, data entry clerks). Be careful not to act superior. One thing you can do to help with this is to set in your mind that wherever you gather data you are talking to the top authority in the organization. After all, if the top authority on filing in the organization is the CEO, the organization has serious trouble. Don't treat this subject lightly. We all receive a good deal of conditioning to treat people in superior positions with special respect. Unfortunately, the flip side of this conditioning leads to treating people in lesser positions with limited respect.

Unintentionally, analysts frequently show disrespect for operating employees by implying that the way they do their work is foolish. The analyst is usually eager to discover opportunities for improvement. When something appears awkward or unnecessarily time-consuming the analyst is likely to frown, smile, act surprised, etc. In various ways, an analyst can suggest criticism or even ridicule of the way the work is being done. The bottom line is that the analyst, with only a few minutes observing the work, is implying that he or she knows how to do it better than a person who has been doing it for years. This is unacceptable behavior. Don't do it! Go to people to find out what is happening, not to judge what is happening. First get the facts. Later we can search out better ways and invite knowledgeable operating people to join us in that effort.


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