When I screw up, I have one way that I have found effective at helping me get through it and learn from it.
I write about it.
This is one of those royal jerk screw-up times.
Patty and I stayed at a hotel where we paid about $300/night. The room was clean and the location good, but the service and amenities were definitely substandard, certainly not something we’d expect from a $300/night room. The night before we checked out, we put together a number of issues and I sent it to the hotel’s customer service site, requesting a reduction in our room rate. The next morning, I talked with the hotel sales director about some of our issues. She was pleasant and empathic and said she would talk with the general manager. A couple of hours later while driving we got a call from the sales director informing us that the hotel would not make any adjustment.
This is where the jerk part comes in.
“I’m in!” Lori, the department general manager said to Caleb.
Caleb had just joined Lori’s department from a competitor where he had worked for two years after college. This was his first one-on-one meeting with Lori. Lori had a strong reputation as a people cultivator and looked for opportunities to grow her staff with in-the-moment learning opportunities. She was about to get that opportunity with Caleb.
“Great to hear. I can get going on the plan right away,” Caleb said.
“That’s great, now what do you need from me?”
Caleb stopped. “Um, I’m sorry?”
“What do you need from me?”
“Nothing? Do you have the support you need from my management team?”
“Well, I was going to talk with them about it.”
Seeing the teachable moment opportunity, Lori decided to help Caleb think things through.
Vic’s heart sank when he heard Tania, the VP of his division, utter the words. He thought he did everything right; made sure he had his facts right, clearly articulated the problem, and got Tania to acknowledge both the problem and his proposed solution. He thought it was a done deal. After the meeting, Vic went into Brenda’s office to vent. Brenda and Vic had been peer-mentoring each other ever since Vic joined the organization, so he felt safe confiding in her.
“I just don’t understand it!” Vic grumbled. “The problem is as clear as the nose on my face, and the solution is a no-brainer.”
“What did Tania say?” Brenda asked.
Brenda leaned back in her chair. “Not now, eh?”
“Right, not now.”
“Let me ask you something,” Brenda said.
“Gosh, this is a huge problem!” Renu said, leaning forward, elbows on the table, hands clasped in front of her.
Bert smiled, pleased with Renu’s reaction. Bert was a newly-promoted warehouse supervisor, having worked in the warehouse for two years fresh out of high school. He proved himself to be a hard worker with a lot of promise. Renu, the plant manager, saw Bert as a high-potential employee who had the passion and talent to ultimately take her job someday.
“I’ve been saying this was a problem for a long time,” Bert said.
“So what do you think we should do about it?” Renu asked.
Bert stopped for a minute, not expecting the question. “Well, I’m not sure.”
“You’re not sure?” Renu asked, her eyes locked with Bert’s.
“Um, no, not yet.”
Bert could feel the little droplets of perspiration forming on his forehead.
“Bert, you bring me a problem, but no proposal on what to do about it?”
“Well, I, uh, didn’t think we’d be talking about solutions here.”
Renu saw what was happening and decided to turn the meeting into a teachable moment.
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