To Speak or Not to Speak!

In the fortnight that we’ve been waiting in Goondiwindi for the Cotton Farm job to start the company that originally hired us has pulled out of the contract and a new company has taken over the farm’s labour management. The change over will take effect from the day we start work there.

The new company is a small, one man operation run by a pleasant straight shooting ex sheep shearing contractor.

We met him on Friday and we both liked him immediately.

He seemed genuinely pleased that we were going to be out on the farm for the next seven weeks during the takeover. He even offered us an extra 5 hours work per day which further boosts our earn for the time out there.

Now the new contractor is extremely efficient and experienced when it comes to managing the hundreds of farm jobs that he supplies labour for, but he has little or no experience with catering.

After explaining to us how the new contract worked and how he was paid for the management we felt uneasy.

I ran all the costs that would be associated with managing the catering out there through our Catering Management programme and we could easily see the potential for our new boss to lose a large amount of money.

What to do?

I’m completely ashamed to have to admit that for a few minutes I contemplated saying nothing!

“After all”, I thought, “We’re only there for six weeks. Just do the best job you can, get paid and drive off and forget it”.

Kerrie, of course, never had a moment of doubt. “We’ve got to tell him”, was her only reaction.

Man, the trouble Speaking out has got me into in the past!

I’ve always spoken up when I’ve believed a wrong decision was made or I’ve discovered anomalies in an operation. I just can’t seem to keep it to myself and carry on as if all is ok.

Then I bought it down to a personal level. The new boss is a real person. He’s a hard working, honest man trying to make it the best way he can. He’s also in a realm that we have not had much association with for many years – a small operation.

The only small business we’ve operated in for many years has been our own, just Kerrie an’ me.

It’s almost impossible to make a difference for the better in large, complex organisations these days. The larger the outfit the more difficult it is. There’s usually nobody who’s willing to make a decision for change. Fear of retribution for a wrong decision or an unwillingness to cause waves, coupled with a passing of the buck up an increasingly long ladder of command makes the large organisation a frustrating and mind numbing environment to stay positive and contented in.

Many large organisations, especially the ones on life support from the public purse, have long ago lost all motivation and desire to impliment the efficiencies in their operations that ensure they pay their way. This affects the attitudes and the state of mind of every participant in the chain and they’re not even aware of it.

With a small operation all this changes.

Here you find decision makers, go-getters, positive and vibrant thinkers that have everything they own at stake. They know their decisions will make or break them unlike the cotton wool wrapped environments of large units where job protection, unionisation and comfort zones eradicate the need to take responsibility for anything much.

Realising that at the foundation of the business that will manage the catering at the cotton farm there is a man with a family and that everything he owns relies on the success of his business made the decision to speak up a very easy one.

I met with him early Sunday morning and showed him the costings and the many other reports that I’d prepared, and I lay out my beliefs about how much this could end up costing him.

Totally contrary to the trouble and flak received in past similar circumstances the reception I got was one of gratefulness. Our new boss saw what I was saying so quickly and easily. Within half an hour we had Defined the situation truthfully and honestly and nutted out a number of possible solutions.

What a thoroughly refreshing change!

It gave me the highest possible level of respect for our new boss.

We’ll do everything in our power to ensure that the next seven weeks, (one week prep and six weeks working), will be of lasting value to him.