Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That Time I Didn't Fire Someone

Act #316:  Mistakes are not character flaws.

There was a time in my professional career that I resisted a supervisor's pressures to reprimand and possibly terminate one of my employees.  He made a minor mistake that in my opinion, was the perfect opportunity for growth, maturity, and personal development.  My boss however disagreed, and felt strongly about formalizing consequences for him - including eventual termination.  He was a millennial - you know the type that doesn't ever take notes, can run 3 programs simultaneously from his smart phone, and spent a lot of time roaming around our work environment brainstorming with anyone who would give him the time of day.  He also had three things that I have since always sought out in an employee:  fit, grit, and heart.  I refused to reprimand him.  Instead, I coached him - it never happened again. I sure as heck didn't fire him - but let me tell you, that was not a popular decision.  And my actions seriously brought into question my leadership.

Well that was a long time ago.  I've moved on from that position, and that young millennial is now leaving his position to explore bigger and better things.  Interestingly enough, that same supervisor who at one point was so insistent on giving up on him.....is now doing everything in her power to get him to stay.  She finally recognized his "fit" for the organization - how he breathed life into the mission in his every word and deed.  She probably learned to appreciate his "grit" - how he rolled with the external and internal punches and remained flexible and stable during times of uncertainty.  She might have finally learned to see his "heart" - how he genuinely cared about those he worked with, and how he approached everything he did as a servant leader.   All things that she, the organization, and the countless people he touched, would have missed out on if we had given up on him for one simple mistake.

These days, in my new job - I not only welcome mistakes - I encourage them.  Mistakes feed innovation and progress.  If we keep doing things the same way we've always been doing them, we'll continue to get the same results we've always had.  And in my line of work, that's just not acceptable.  So show me  your fit, grit, and heart - and I'll take all the growing pains that come with you.  I know it'll be worth it.

You'll be worth it.

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