Its Christmas Eve – Time to Dump Everything on your Desk on Someone Else


Its Christmas Eve – Time to Dump Everything on your Desk on Someone Else

A few decades ago when I was working in the trenches the company for which I worked was holding our annual Christmas party on Christmas Eve afternoon. It was 2 PM and everyone was having a gay old time when the phone rang and a customer began berating our service department. Our owner got on the phone and noted that the ‘problem’ under discussion was an ongoing issue for nearly a year, had no bearing on the workings of the subject garage, and would be addressed after the holiday. He also noted that the garage was closed and would not be opened until after the New Year.

The customer was incensed and continued a profanity filled diatribe. My boss gently but firmly hung up the phone. He called this the “Friday Syndrome.”

The Friday Syndrome in effect takes all the problems on my desk and shoves them on your desk, just a couple of hours before the weekend begins. That means I don’t have to worry about them and your weekend is destroyed. Your choices are worry about them until Monday or spend the weekend solving all the problems, I should have solved the previous week.

I had a customer, one of PT’s first and most loyal, who would call about some issue or another and tell me that his goal was to ‘get it off his desk.’ In other words, dump the problem on me. He could go home feeling he had a ‘job well done’ when in fact all he had done was shove the issue off on someone else. Great work if you can get it.

I noticed someone doing this in our office today. I intervened and said that the task could be accomplished after the holiday, gave them instructions to get a summary of what was needed to me, and said I didn’t think it was right to give someone a new job on Christmas eve. I noted that I would read the summary next week and act upon it then.

I know someone who fired a colleague on Christmas eve. When I asked him why he couldn’t wait a few days, he said he had a choice, he would be miserable until he fired the guy, or the guy would be miserable after he was fired. He couldn’t see why he should be miserable, so he acted.

They guy who called on Christmas Eve raising hell accomplished nothing except ensure that my company was going to go into slow motion on his problem. The fellow who ‘got it off his desk’ accomplished nothing but a clean desk and the fellow who fired someone on Christmas Eve still felt miserable and made another miserable too. When you dump your problems on someone else, what you are doing is telling the world that you have failed in your timing and attempting to solve the problem by shoving it on a colleague.

Think about it.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. John
    I had a boss (also a few decades ago) that followed your Friday dump program. He would call me about 4:15 on a Friday almost every week for months with something he NEEDED tomorrow morning. No room for negotiation, and often didn’t seem that urgent to me. I would drop whatever was on my desk, and work on it, often until the last possible moment to race to the FedEx at the airport to get it on the last flight to make the 9 am Saturday delivery.

    About three months of this (ashamed it took that. long) on a Tuesday I called following up on that urgent Friday project for a very innocent reason. ON the call he fumbles the issue a bit and I HEARD him opening the FedEx package. I was incensed. ON his next trip (Regional Manager) I confronted him and he told me I needed to understand the difference between him NEEDING it versus, HAD TO HAVE it. It was apparently my fault.

    I clarified going forward (the call continued for months) and nine out of ten times I was able to leave on time. I learned several lessons about how to treat those that worked with me as well as the importance of standing up for ones self.

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