To have a healthy work environment, a culture of mutual respect must be maintained. For a manager, maintaining a healthy work environment can be a daunting task. About 6 months ago Keith Zakheim, President at a New Jersey PR firm, attempted to do just that, when he threatened to fire the next employee that doesn’t replace the milk (at the companies expense). The letter is as follows:
From: Keith Zakheim
Date: September 27, 2011 8:20:21 AM EDT
To: Beckerman Staff
Subject: I don’t know what else to do…
I have repeatedly requested until I am blue in the face that the person that finishes the milk must replace the milk. Its not complicated and is a simple sign of respect for fellow employees.
So, imagine my chagrin this morning when I stumbled in at 715 after enduring a typically painful Redskins loss and in dire need of a shot of caffeine, only to find that the skim milk in the refrigerator had three drops of milk left. Literally 3 drops, an amount that would maybe fill the tummy of a prematurely born mouse. The person that did this is either incredibly lazy, obnoxiously selfish or woefully devoid of intelligence – 3 traits that are consistent with the profile of FORMER Beckerman employees.
As you can tell from the tenor of this email, I am not happy and at my wits end. Allyne, Ilhwa, and I have repeatedly beseeched you to replace the supplies that you consume – whether its pencils, paper, or MILK. This costs you nothing – I pay for it! Yet, it is still repeatedly ignored.
So, I am gravely serious when I write this – if I catch someone not replacing the milk, or at least, in the case where the downstairs store has close already, not sending an email to the office so the first person that arrives (usually Christa or me) can pick one up upon arrival – then I am going to fire you. Im not joking. You will be fired for not replacing the milk, and have fun explaining that one to your next employer. This is not a empty threat so PLEASE don’t test me.
99% of this office consists of great people that work hard, treat their employes with respect, and understand that they are part of something that is bigger than them. However, there seems to be a small element that doesn’t understand this. So its time that they do or else they should start refreshing their resume.
For those of you who have worked for me for years, you know this is not my style so PLEASE take this seriously!
Thank you for your cooperation.
After the internal email was leaked on Gawker, the PR firm did some PR for itself and stated that no employee has been or will be fired for forgetting to replace the milk.
Though Zakheim’s message was harsh, assuming he reminded his employees several times over to replace the milk, was he wrong in threatening to fire people whom he felt did not fit in with the culture and vision of his PR firm? What is the best way to maintain a positive office culture?