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By Teigue Payne, Legitimate Leadership.

This is a simple story of an auditor in a motor parts distribution centre, employee X, who would not listen because he could not hear.

Employee X had a reputation for hard work and devotion to the company and its brand. But he also had a reputation for being terrible at admin – and particularly at completing any tasks which arose from meetings which he had attended.

It was observed that he much preferred to head out to a panel beating shop, for instance, to do an audit, and then submit a report and statistics – and he did this very successfully.

But in admin generally and in meeting deadlines, he was consistently bad and the problem was becoming worse.

A succession of managers experienced his lack of ability in admin.

Two years ago, when employee X had been with the company for 11 years, manager Y was given responsibility for him. Manager Y was told that employee X would have to improve or leave the company.

Manager Y, who is currently undergoing Legitimate Leadership training in the company, decided (as a result of the training) that she would sit with him one-on-one and find out something about him, his life and his view of work. She also wanted him to see his strengths and weaknesses.

This had not been done before – the distribution centre where they worked was, she says, “always in a rush and the only priority was to get things done”.

Normally his excuse for not completing what had been assigned to him in meetings was that he had “forgotten”. But after a few meetings with him, it emerged that he had a hearing problem – that he could not hear much of what was said in meetings, and therefore did not actually know what tasks had been assigned to him.

Employee X is a person who normally doesn’t like to ask for assistance or advice and prefers to do things on his own.

Eight months ago, at manager Y’s prompting, employee X had a hearing aid fitted.

Since then, he has been able to hear in meetings. His admin has improved enormously and he meets deadlines and completes the tasks assigned to him.

“Everyone is pleased with him now and it’s a great improvement for him and the company,” says manager Y.