“Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil”

“Squeaky wheel gets the oil.”  That came to mind the other day when someone was making a bunch of noise about wanting a team to reschedule a meeting because the “squeaky wheel” would not be able to attend.  The group almost caved but decided against it.  The person missing the meeting was not vitally important to the content of the meeting.

What came to light was how disrespectful a “squeaky wheel” can be.  This person couldn’t make a meeting so they wanted everyone to change their plans and reschedule over a meeting held by a person that is considered “more accommodating.”

As a lean guy, I noticed how disrespectful this was to the person who doesn’t make a big deal out of things and is more concerned about the whole and not the individual.  With respect for people being one of the pillars of lean, I was taken aback by the “squeaky wheel” continuing to make such a mountain out of a mole hill.

The group realized the wheel was just making a lot of noise but wasn’t going to fall off.  The “more accommodating” person told the “squeaky wheel” the meeting was still going to take place at the scheduled time and if they could make it great.  If not, there would be plenty of people there to have a successful meeting. The situation was handled with respect for everyone’s time and schedule and in a non-confrontational way.

I understand there are times when people have legitimate reasons to speak up or be the “squeaky wheel,” there are times when it is disrespectful.  So the next time you hear a “squeaky wheel” ask yourself if they are being disrespectful?  Or legitimate?  Then, how do we handle it with respect for everyone involved?

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Posted on June 13, 2011, in Leadership, Respect for People and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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