• The New York metro area is bracing for massive transit delays this summer.
• Hash out a plan with your boss to avoid getting in trouble for lateness if you’re ever stranded.
• Harvard Business School professor Michael Wheeler recommends viewing the situation from your manager’s perspective to anticipate issues.
New York City’s “summer of hell” is upon us.
Whether you ride the LIRR, travel on Amtrak or New Jersey Transit, or take the subway to work, you can expect increasing public transit holdups this summer. Already, issues with overcrowding and delays have sparked some downright infernal scenes, like what ensued when travellers were trapped in a crowded, steamy F train for over an hour earlier this month.
Many New York City managers will likely be understanding and flexible about the delays in the coming months. Plus, options like working from home are becoming more popular in certain industries.
But, people with a punctual stickler for a boss may still find it helpful to have some strategies up their sleeves.
First things first: Keep track of MTA, LIRR, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit delays. Also, carefully following company policies and guidelines will always reduce your changes of getting sacked for lateness.
“That doesn’t mean you won’t be yelled at, however,” Michael Wheeler, a Harvard Business School professor who teaches a course on “Negotiation Mastery” for the school’s online initiative HBX, tells Business Insider. “That may be your boss’ nature — my condolences, if that’s the case. Or it may reflect his or her own stress if staffing and coverage is challenging. If things get tense, do your best not to escalate the problem.”
The key is to work out a new plan with your supervisor ahead of time, to avoid getting an earful. That goes double if you feel that your company or team’s lateness policy won’t withstand this diabolical season. Remember, it’s too late to haggle about a new procedure with your boss if you’re already running late and stranded on some forsaken subway platform.
When you sit down with your manager, Wheeler recommends adopting the mantra of “to get a yes, expect a no.” Try seeing things from your boss’s perspective, and come up with some good counterpoints.
“An old colleague of mine was fond of saying ACBD: ‘Always consult before deciding,'” Wheeler says. “Prompt a broader discussion about what the protocols should be in extreme cases. It doesn’t do the company any good to have an employee stuck in a station waiting for a train that isn’t going to come. Help the boss develop some practical rules of thumb in advance so that people make sensible decisions in such cases.”
The “summer of hell” will impact everyone differently. A flexible policy can help put your entire office’s mind at ease, so, if you’re worried, speak up.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all problem,” he says. “Employees’ responsibilities will differ. So will their challenges in getting to work. Do what you can to encourage a collective ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude.”
And if all else fails, you can always try getting a late pass from the MTA.
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