The story is told of a CEO who toured a warehouse of his corporation and he saw a young man who was propped against an I-beam, not doing anything. Each time the CEO looked in his direction, the young man didn’t move or make an attempt to be productive. Finally, the CEO couldn’t take it any longer and went up to the young man and asked, “Do you know who I am?” “Nope”, said the young man. “I’m the CEO of this company. How dare you just stand there not doing anything! How much money do you make a week?” “Four Hundred dollars,” the young man said. The CEO screamed, “Here’s $500.00, take it and don’t ever let me see you around here again!” The CEO looked at the warehouse manager and asked, “Which department was that deadbeat with?” The manager replied, “He was the pizza delivery boy.”
How many times have we in our leadership / boss positions jumped to conclusions, seen only what we want to believe and made decisions that really were not wise and made things worse than they were before? Not to be too stereotypical, but as a man, I feel it is my job to be in the middle of things, fixing them, but sometimes, the best fix may be to allow things to work out with time. Early on in my management career, I learned the hard way about this lesson. I would only hear one side of a story or a situation, not have all the facts and storm into the situation like a bull in a china shop. I would end up making myself look foolish, would lose credibility with my staff and would make a big mess that was most likely harder to get through than the original situation that was brought to my attention.
How many things that we have to deal with in our day to day job really have to have us “in the middle” post-haste, right now, immediately involved? When problems and situations arise, we can step back and look at things logically, consider all of the facts and come up with workable solutions that will be best for the business and all involved.
I always have to remember that there are three sides to a two person conflict. There is the truth, and the two perceptions of what happened. Sometimes, work conflicts have nothing to do with work and I convey to my employees that those conflicts need to be resolved between the employees. I will not get involved other than telling them that they do not have to like each other to work with each other, but they will respect each other and communicate civilly to accomplish their job. I have had two instances in the last ten years where long term employees have left employment due to not being able to resolve personal conflict and because I refused to take sides. It was not what I would have preferred to happen, but it was not wise for me to take sides in a non-work related personal disagreement.
Working for physicians, we often can be directed through their second or third hand information that they hear from the employees. Again, it is best to assure the physician that we will deal with the problem, but we also have to let the physician know that the perceptions relayed to them may not be the actuality of the situation at all. How many times have we reacted to a physician’s perception of things without knowing the whole truth and seen that we can hurt feelings, react wrongly and destroy part of our leadership credibility?
We all supposedly work with adults who are or should be trained professionals at their jobs. We need to remember when things go wrong that we can do our employees a disservice by jumping into conflict. We need to allow our employees to use their skill sets to attempt to resolve the problem. If we jump into everything, all the time, our employees can perceive that we don’t trust them or think that they have the abilities to come to resolution when they are faced with problems. Personal growth and learning cannot occur if we are in the middle of all of their problems. Also, we will find that our time will be spent refereeing instead of managing if we are expected to get involved in every little problem.
Sometimes it is hard to see conflict or be told of problems and not get right in the middle of things, but we all need to remember to get the facts and trust our employees to use their skill sets to get through things. There are priorities and emergencies that will require us to react immediately, but the next time conflict arises, don’t do something, sit there.