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Too much baggage. Each of us, when in an organization, accrues baggage that taints people's perceptions of us. While I'd like to imagine that I'm still that bright, shiny penny the organization thought I was when I hired on, over time, I've gotten tarnished, scratched, flung, and ignored as valueless (penny analogies (smile)). Each one of those experiences leaves an indelible mark in the minds of my employer, teammates, interview committee.Consider all the possible scenarios:
- Someone is too pushy and is always advocating their vision over that of others. The problem isn't the vision but the fact that the person pushes others aside.
- Someone gossips incessantly until it comes to a head. Lack of trust is on all sides, and people would rather not associate with a gossip because, well, you can't trust them.
- Someone does something, while not illegal, is questionable according to the values of the organization.
- Someone does something that the top leadership don't like and they are set against this person.
Whatever the scenario, what happens to that employee? In most organizations, being ostracized will either push them out of the organization or cause them to become more rebellious. As a leader, you have to decide at least two things:
- Is this person salvageable for the organization?
- Are you willing to put in the effort?
And, a final question that must be asked of leaders in an organization is, "What will this person have to do to be allowed back into the fold?" The answer is often, "There's nothing that this person can do." This makes their lives--and those people who have to deal with them--a misery of fake smiles that result in hard, bitter feelings. No matter what the employee does, there's no way back, no hope of redemption.
That's wrong. One imagines that people who get pushed out of an organization are there because of personal/professional failure. We assume people that work in an organization must know the rules of the road. But the truth is, those rules are different from organization to organization. When a person is socialized in one community, how do they make the transition to another? And, when they break the rules that betray the ethos of trust and confidence, what can be done to restore it?
When considering these situations, I ask myself a question that comes from Crucial Confrontations: What do I really want? For myself? For the other person? For myself, as a leader, I have to put aside my own concerns and issues with the person. The goal of disciplinary action or any intervention is to help the employee get back on the path to mutual success (Win-Win). I want that person to become a productive, active participant in the success of the organization. The problem is that their actions, or failure to act, cause problems that prevent them from achieving that goal.
As an organizational leader, I have to be willing to put in the effort and I have to be willing to salvage the relationship. There is no other choice provided the person stops short of the precipice and makes a sincere effort to change.
In this case, I keep this quote firmly in mind:
I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jer 29:11
If that isn't my goal as a leader--to provide a future and a hope--then I have failed.
How do you see it?
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure