Laughing Matters
Inner-Office conflict when you work by yourself

By Charles Marshall | June 10, 2009

I finally hired someone to help out with the administrative chores in my office. It’s great to finally have some help because, for the great majority of my career, I have been the one and only employee of my company. Just me, and only me, running the whole shabang.

But even though I have been both manager and employee for the past fourteen years, don’t think my company hasn’t had the same challenges as larger companies, such as the time we instituted Casual Dress Friday. Since the office dress code is already relaxed (I’m wearing sweats as I write), this memo announcing Casual Dress Friday caused disastrous results. One employee, who shall remain nameless, took the memo literally, and wore a casual dress to work the very first Friday. After being disciplined by management, this employee then just wore his jammies every Friday. Again, management was not amused.

We, like so many other companies, have also suffered our share of employee/ management strife. The worst of it came when management launched a surprise drug testing program. Every employee was expected to participate and no one was exempt. The staff was surprised and offended coming into work one Monday morning to learn that they were expected to take a drug test. There was no forewarning at all and this audacious move by management was not at all appreciated.

This reticence of the staff to take the test aroused the suspicions of management and accusations ensued. The staff was insulted, incensed, and threatened to walk out en masse. Fortunately, management stepped in, volunteering to go first, and this placated all but one employee whom haven’t been able to get a decent day’s work out of since.

The most severe problem came just last year when accusations were made of office theft. The conflict began when certain items in the office unaccountably disappeared. Nothing very valuable or important was taken, but an air of suspicion and distrust hung over the office for days. Tension was high and tempers flared. At one point, blows were actually exchanged and the police were called to break it up. No charges were filed, but there was a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.

The whole matter was finally resolved when a memo was issued proclaiming complete amnesty for the thief if he would agree to return the missing items. The very next day the items were returned with no charges filed and no questions asked.

Things have calmed down now and one of the surprise benefits of having a new employee is that it seems to help keep everyone on their best behavior.

It seems conflict is inevitable in this life, whether working with two hundred people or by yourself. Jesus knew all about conflict. It seems there was always someone who had a problem with the way he was doing something. Whether it was his healing on the Sabbath, letting his disciples pick grain on the Sabbath, or hanging out with so-called social undesirables, somebody had something negative to say about it.

One of the things that I really like about Jesus, though, is that he didn’t let that conflict alter his vision or determine his direction. He didn’t let others’ opinions define his self worth. Neither did he let conflict diminish his love for people. All that mattered to Jesus was his father’s opinion.

Adherence to God’s will allows us to sail through the turbulence of conflict while retaining the inner peace of knowing that we’re okay with the One that matters.

As for me, some say that being cooped up by one’s self in a small office for extended periods of time will cause symptoms of dementia and multiple personality disorder, but I haven’t found this to be true.

And to be honest, neither have I.