Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bonus Blog: Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Okay, Damnit. Maybe I'll Do as I Say, Too.

The original Bonus Blog for this week has gotten bumped to next Thursday. It deals with the fact that sometimes you don't always get what you expect out of people you work with and that you hire, and that's okay. You should, of course, still read that blog because I'm much more articulate and interesting and I do mention Fake Brain Tumor Man again.

Today's entry, however, is brought to you by me having my head up an unspecified orifice, and my friend--who is also my boss--gently showing me that so I could extricate myself with whatever grace I had remaining.

In all previous blogs about dealing with difficult people I ask you to think about the context of their behavior, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to try and out-nice them, and in general, make the best out of a difficult relationship.

Now imagine you're me and you throw all that out the window summarily.

That was me this week. I worked with this guy years ago. Our working styles conflicted. Whereas I know I have a tendency towards bossy and work hard not to be bossy, this was not an issue that he worked on.

Fast forward to a problem my current team is working out that requires a delicate touch. This is not the first guy I think of. In fact, today, when it was reiterated that a delicate touch was required, I panicked. I asked my friend and boss to lunch, and laid out for him my concerns about the fit. I also laid out my prior history and, anxious as anything, waited to hear what he thought--should we tell other boss on team about this?

His answer was what my answer should have been: let's bring the guy in, let him know what he's getting into, and give him a chance. Short, simple, and sweet. And I totally threw away the option because--years ago--I had tried, on multiple occasions to have such a conversation and either got shut down or all the appropriate smiles and answers and a return to the behavior as soon as the adults (well, supervisors) were out of the room.

It had never occurred to me to try talking, AGAIN. Which is rather one of the points of this blog: people deserve second chances. You as a manager need to be gentle with yourself because you will screw up, and you need to indulge other people so they can screw up and learn from it. But most of all, people change over time. You should let them. You should also, at least, give them the benefit of the doubt.

So there you have it. Having lunch with him and boss and one other appropriate person and we're going to try to sort it. It turns out, no matter how much you think you know--even if you're writing a freaking professional blog on the topic--you can be blinded by your own self and learn something (or relearn it) new.

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