Compassion At Work and Lifeboats

 

Compassion and Love create lifeboats

Retain employees with Love and Lifeboats

 

Patty Carter appears again in our blog with another great story about an experience she had during her management years with an organization working with at-risk individuals.

Her story is a tale of two managerial candidates and how things ended up without the practice of Love in business; and explores what could have happened if Love had reigned. Patty’s story provides information, inspiration, and guidance to those of us who have discovered that the ‘practice of Love IS good business’ and are seeking to find our way forward on this pathway to Success.

Here is her story . . .

A few years ago, I was part of a panel that was interviewing for a middle management position. This was a particularly significant interview because the previous manager was blatantly abusive to staff and was not upholding the terms and conditions of the contract. This was a government contract that partnered with a State parole team that was being violated in many ways. The contract was in jeopardy and the organization’s reputation was being trashed. The situation had become emotionally charged and was in need of a strong leader with a firm hand but a gentle touch.

The office was a mess and staff had been traumatized to the point that the word “lawsuit” came up in nearly every conversation. Upper management was genuinely concerned and doing everything possible to resolve the situation – including having very open conversations with staff. Things were moving slowly because of the delicate nature of the situation – but final interviews had finally begun.

We were looking for someone that had good leadership skills, could think well outside of the box, was firm but able to bring about healing to staff, clients, peers, the parole team AND save the contract. Tall order and definitely not for wimps – or a tough manager that wanted to bully everything and everyone into shape.

We were down to two very strong candidates that could get the job done. One of the questions I asked was “What would you do with an employee that had become a problem or was not performing well?” The first candidate said, “Make sure they’re properly trained, talk to them and if that doesn’t work you go through HR to start the termination process”.

The second candidate said he would do everything he could to pull someone back into the lifeboat. I asked him to tell us a little more about what he meant. He elaborated by saying he felt it was important to know what was going on with an employee that had gone off the rails and detailed how he would handle the situation.

One answer embraced, the other one dismissed. One was focused on developing staff and one focused on getting an employee into line. I think both approaches can be used – but the dismissive approach needs a little tweaking.

My education, experience and training has taught me that people do what they do for a reason and it’s part of our job as managers to look into what is going on with an employee that is not performing as expected. I think you have to ask yourself some key questions before taking disciplinary action or contacting HR.

  • Has this person been fully trained?
  • Is this person clearly aware of expectations?
  • Are this person’s skills and strengths suited to the position?
  • Have there been recent changes in this person’s workload or job description that he or she may be struggling with?
  • Is there any indication that he or she may be facing personal challenges?

Once you’ve asked yourself those questions and been honest in your assessment, it’s time to talk to the employee. This should be a conversation not a berating session. State the facts, show concern and that you value him or her by asking questions. Then listen – not just with your head but with your heart as well. Head and heart are not mutually exclusive. One discerns, the other seeks to understand and heal. This is a powerful combination and from a business perspective, is a win-win for everyone.

Those who work for us are real people with real lives. Their work needs are not limited to training and a paycheck. They need to feel like a valued member of the team. Termination is not always the answer. While there are times when it may be necessary to terminate employment, it should not be the goal when dealing with struggling employees. When correction (or discipline) is necessary, use compassion and wisdom to pull the person back into the lifeboat. The employee will grow and learn and get better. And so will the rest of the team.

Interestingly enough, the candidate that focused on getting employees in line got the job and was eventually promoted again. However, he turned into a demanding, overbearing manager. It didn’t take long for that style to result in turnover and lower performance in his department . Had this manager taken a different approach or returned to a more caring and compassionate way of being, the entire region he managed would have gone in a different direction and been more successful.

The way we see and how we approach our employees (and everyone in our lives) will determine the success of our relationships. And when it comes to business, seeing employees through the eyes of kindness and compassion and approaching them from a place of love will determine an efficient and successful business.

 

Love matters, and it makes all the difference.

 

 

Author Patricia Carter has a passion for training and developing staff for excellent, positive outcomes and has been successful in creating an environment of learning and growth for the benefit of her teams and employers. She has nearly 10 years’ experience in management working with at-risk individuals.

Check out her previous post here: http://loveisgoodbusiness.org/2016/03/

And remember, together we can make a difference that matters.

 

 

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