Seeing Through the Fog


July 18, 2010

I woke up this morning and as I settled into my chair, cup of coffee in hand, I realized that I could not see my back yard through the fog.  It was moments before daybreak and I could see the thick fog settled into the woods like a warm wool blanket pulled up tight under your chin on a cold winter night.  It struck me because it is unusual for that to happen where my house is.  But, the conditions were just right so that I could not see the large oaks a mere ten yards from my window.  I know they are there.  They are always there.  I wondered if the fog didn’t lift and remained for days on end, would I ever forget that the trees are there.  No, I wouldn’t.  I know that just because I can’t see something anymore, it doesn’t mean that it does not exist.  And, as the sun rose and the rays of light became brighter, it sliced through the fog and the truth of the trees became evident.

We don’t always follow the logic at work though.  Sometimes, we think “out of sight, out of mind”.  Have you ever:

  • had an employee who works remotely that you don’t always remember to connect with, coach, or mentor
  • been an employee who works remotely and you don’t keep the team at the home office informed about your work
  • had an employee with a performance issue that you continue to turn a blind eye to in hopes that it goes away
  • known of someone with a problem (health, addiction, anger, etc) and didn’t refer them to EAP resources

There are times when we let the fog settle so thickly around us that the right thing does not get done.  Why?  Because it is WORK to be that ray of light that can address the needs of an employee or of yourself.   Waiting or ignoring performance issues or workplace issues will not make it better.  YOU must OWN it.


  • My last assistant was that person whom I turned the blind eye to when her performance dropped. Ultimately, I was at fault as I had never addressed her shortcomings, I merely was assigning her more and more menial and less challenging tasks. She would never show up for training sessions that were important to her job with me and ultimately to her success in the field where she was hoping to work in.

    One of the last straws was when her mother had called in sick for her, rather than her calling in sick herself. But I was in a ticklish situation as her aunt was the one who referred her to me. I didn’t know what to do.

    In the end, I never had to fire her, as she had give me a one day notice of her quitting. I was relieved, as the lunchtime meeting was going to be spent with me telling her to shape up or ship out. This meeting had been about two months coming…

    She is now considering going back to university and persuing another career.

  • Trish-
    Such great reminders. When sipping coffee or tea. Really need to take the time to be thoughtful and aware of people, and your surroundings in work/life.
    A great work/life balance article!

  • Interst post Trish; I think we all spend some portion of our day “in the fog.” Anyoe who says they have never turned a blind eye to an employee performance issue is either a liar or has no employees. You can rationalize it however you want, (I’m too busy, I have to get this report done) but we all do it. Reminding us that we do overlook performance matters may help us to do it less frequently. Thanks for the insight!

  • Good reflection Trish. I can remember working with a group of folks that were managed remotely. They had a whole different culture and set of priorities than did their corporate-based team, sitting near the boss. A small divide had grown over the years, through the natural erosion that occurs when a relationship isn’t fostered.

    Over time, this puts the team in a very bad place, being out of touch with the current priorities and goings-on. Also breeds a sense of mistrust and demotivates.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • I work remotely in a different time zone from most of my colleagues and it’s great because I have time to get things done. But staying connected is definitely work.

    I never thought of it as fog before…

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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