How often does something happen in your practice that frosts your socks and leaves you feeling angry and frustrated, and you carry it around with you the rest of the day, maybe even into the evening? When these incidents involve staff, what do you do about them? Most of what I see and hear from many of my clients is a pattern of RE-action + NO-action. Do you fall into that trap? For example, let’s say an employee does something that really makes you mad. Do you engage in huffing and puffing, complaining, griping, commiserating, dumping, railing against the unfairness, drawer slamming or worse? Then what?
What I often see is that it ends there. No attempt is made to follow up with that employee and let them know what left you feeling angry and why. No communicating expectations and why they were not met. No reminder of the ‘rules of engagement’ or how we do things around here. No discipline if that is what is appropriate. This is what I call ‘failure to launch’ and also a crying shame – a missed opportunity to coach in the moment. You can’t play pool if you don’t break and scatter the balls, can you?!
In the last two weeks I have heard two incidents that fall into this category. The details are confidential, however in both cases, my clients chose to do nothing. One was a protocol breach, the other was an inappropriate response from an employee. Both clients railed against the lack of protocol integrity or audacity and drummed on for a time about how they hated being bosses. Drummed on, at least, until I stopped them. There comes a point in a coaching conversation where it’s my job to distinguish between venting and dumping. Venting is OK to a point.
Then it’s time to ask, “What do you expect to change when your chosen response is to express your displeasure to everyone except the right person?” Be mindful of losing opportunities to effect real change, set clear boundaries, and correct breaches of agreement, respect or protocol. Your practice and your employees depend on your ability to step up as a leader. Ranting and raving, then doing nothing doesn’t serve you, your practice or anyone else and is a lost opportunity. Reaction + No-action = Failure to Launch.