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  • Nick

Are your employees trying to kill you?

Have you ever looked at one of your employees after they have done something that is beyond your comprehension and wanted to scream? Not like, oh yeah, I can see why they did that, but something that even living a million years you would never predict the outcome. When you have nearly 20 staff it happens all the time and I see my fellow leaders pretty much react in the same way – anger and frustration, and some disbelief but pretty much negatively towards the staff.

These reactions are perfectly natural, and I suspect that you have had the same level of frustrations and the same reactions. We have some friends who owe a hospitality business and employ lots of young people and I see a similar reaction, frustration and blaming their behaviour on being young – their age does play a part but what happens if the employees who are behaving like this are seasoned veterans (or grown-ups as we like to call them), what happens when they are experienced and still make you want to pull your hair out?

There are lots of ways to torture staff and capital punishment is an option, (please don’t torture or harm your staff in anyway, it isn’t worth it, honestly) but it might be that forgiveness is the key as it is a one off or the situation might happen often enough to eventually lead to termination procedures but what has gone so wrong? Why has a grown adult produced a result that has caused you confusion, anger and frustration and what do those emotions do to your decision process?

The fact that you react is human, but what happens if you didn’t? What happens if took a breath and you asked yourself a series of simple questions to help understand what is really going on and what can be learnt? The reaction is so human but not very productive, frustration is normal and showing it is also, but what good does it do, what have you learnt?

I always start off with what sounds like an outrageous question – is the employee trying to kill me or the company? Sounds ridiculous, but as long as you have that answer you can be sure that the employee wasn’t acting nefariously. I always ask it, as it is quite normal to think that when a mistake happens it can only be on purpose and it must be personal; if you take away the feeling of being under attack then you are automatically going to be calmer and want to find out what happened and not have their head stuck on a pike outside of the office.

Then we start to ask, what happened? Why it went wrong? What was the thinking process in this? We don’t go in angry and hurt we go in with the much more constructive attitude of wanting to sort out problems out - once and for all.

The problem as owners and managers is that we are generally more passionate about our work than our employees, but that makes us vulnerable to negative thinking and that leads to thinking the worst which is a spiral that just isn’t true (in most cases as people want to do well and be noticed for it).

Next time you see a mistake, take a breath, ask yourself ‘are they trying to kill me?’ and if the answer is no then you are halfway there to finding out the real issue and surely that is better than what you normally do? If however, the answer is yes, then well just run, run quickly.

At the Mind Mechanics we offer bespoke therapy for owners and employees when things just don’t work anymore. We are different as we come to you, we get results and focus on change.

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