The Sky Is Falling – Or Is It?

How many times have you made a mistake at work only to find out that it was similar in magnitude to the earthquakes in Japan? I suppose you were the sort of person that readily admitted your mistake and did everything you could to fix it right away. The aftershocks though kept coming and you wondered if the wheels were coming off the corporate bus and lives were at stake.

This is actually a true story and one that I found very interesting. It had all the elements of what could be the birth of yet another toxic work environment and it may still come to that with more aftershocks. What has actually taken place though is a new manager who is still somewhat insecure in their new role and really has no one to mentor them in that role. We all know that in some organisations that running to your supervisor with problems is a sign of weakness and the weak shall not survive! How sad is that?

In this particular situation the sky was not falling, the situation was not anywhere close to the earthquakes in Japan for magnitude and there was no need for aftershocks. This was or would have been a prime opportunity to say, “What did we learn from this situation?” “What can we do to prevent it from happening again?” Now, I ask you, how does that make you feel versus the other approach of a severe verbal bashing with many aftershocks? Note the use of the term, “we”? As a manager or leader I am assuming co-responsibility for the situation and together we are going to make it right and put things in place so that we can minimize the chance of it happening again.

What was the impact to the employee that was subjected to the verbal bashing and the subsequent aftershocks that took place? As one can only imagine this would have turned into a stressful situation and would have caused some emotional turmoil and perhaps even the questioning of one’s capabilities. I would suggest if this behaviour were to continue, there would be little doubt that we would begin to doubt our capabilities in our job.

The situation was obviously handled very poorly. Proper leadership and management training would be of some value. Implementing a mentoring program for new mangers would also help with this situation. Performing a post-mortem on this situation would help the manager realise that there are different approaches to getting the message across. I shudder to think of the respect that has been lost for this manager.  With an ageing workforce and a talent shortage facing the majority of organisations, ensuring that your current and future leaders have the tools to be successful is critical. Don’t let this happen to your organisation and to your employees.

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