Preceding Sunday brunch yesterday, in asking the dishwasher to mop the front lobby and bathrooms before actually setting up the dish room–as there won’t be dishes for some time, but folks will be entering soon, she balked. She responded that she needed the dish room to be clean because if dishes started to stack up, she’d stress out. When we pointed out that dishes WILL back up, its the job, and that she shouldn’t stress-out, they are “only dishes,”, she pointed out that she is more stressed about things outside of work. I’m afraid she won’t be with us very long–as hard a worker as she is and as in-need of a job as she is. Its her 2nd shot with us.
The incident reminded me of a similar moment just recently with one of our “toughest” cooks, who walked out (temporarily) because the prep list was too long (not really). Call it what it was- a stress-induced reactionary tantrum. After a bunch of texts back and forth, him explaining, us rejecting his explanation, including a reminder that Tom Brady never walks off the field, never quits, no matter how hard he gets smacked in the face, insulted and called cheater-like names by mean men looking to do him harm, our dude finally returned to work, contrite about leaving the team compromised. Initially, as usual, the conversation was way off track–the employee complains of, well.. work…while deflecting and failing to recognize root cause. And, we as leaders, most often make the same mistake in our defense upon these occasions, explaining the way the process goes, wondering why having a lot of work to do (at work) presents an actual problem, and using such motivational truisms like the Coach Bill’s, “Do your job.” Of course, some reading this, and many of those who walk out in a blaze of emotion will make argument that it’s about the pay… Or the lack of effort on behalf of other staff… Or the way the manager speaks to us, etc etc. But, I have found so many times through the years, that when all is said and done, the narrative turns to the pressures outside of work. Spouses, child care, bills, familial pressures, lack of control, lack of clarity or vision…. you know, life.
Those times that we are most effective in achieving positive messaging, we convey the realization that the pressures of life are best solved by having a job, doing the job well, and punching out feeling good about having done your best on behalf of ones self, the team, those on the outside.
Hard lessons, never ending. True “feel good” comes from within. We control it. We own it. Or don’t. So few folks get that.
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