You can’t fix idiot.
Labeling someone – using judgment terms – is easy when team members are making mistakes or not living up to expectations. What does idiot or slacker really mean? If someone gets labeled as such, it’s actually impossible to work with them to fix the problem. Still worse is if a team or company perpetuates such labeling, you have created an atmosphere of negativity and judgement without a culture in place to address very real problems.
Why do you consider Brian an idiot? Is it because he embarrassed himself and the company at a client meeting? Is it because he wrote an email to a prospective client and misrepresented the cost of the project? Is it because he was at a conference, got drunk and missed the early meeting the next day? Anyone could legitimately say Brian is an idiot. But how helpful is that?
Labeling Brian doesn’t solve the problem. If everyone just thinks of Brian in this way without addressing the underlying behaviors he is likely to carry a stigma that impacts his effectiveness and will likely repeat the behaviors.
Look at the behaviors, not the person.
Brian is an idiot. Isolate the behaviors that Brian exhibited that embarrassed himself in front of the client. Here are some things that can be focused on:
These are all skills that can be addressed through coaching, training, and supervision.
What are the causes of his unfortunate email?
The ways to address the problem at the conference should be pretty obvious.
Each of these behaviors that result in the “idiot” label have underlying skills that can be taught to bring about better outcomes if leaders are willing to step in and address it rather than perpetuating the label.
Linda is a slacker. Look for the behaviors that can be addressed:
A culture that revolves around labels of judgment is one of negativity, blame, and shaming. Work to create a constructive atmosphere by looking at the underlying behaviors that have created that label, then work to address them professionally.
Tim Ressmeyer is a professional leadership and life coach. He is also the author of The Impact of Confidence: 7 Secrets of Success for the Human Side of Leadership (2018). Available on Amazon.
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