As young summer intern in a fast paced New York City business, I subtly learned that senior level people were allowed to "chew out" the junior level folks. With little real privacy, I regularly overheard the senior execs pointing fingers, raising voices and using phrases like "screwed up!" "_______ed up!" "blew it" and "wasted money!" The guys in the corner offices chewed out the managers. The managers chewed out the sales people. The sales people the order department. The order department chewed out the warehouse guys. The warehouse guys..... Get the picture?
As an impressionable teenager, do you think it made me really want to work there someday? Uhh...well.... NO.
Out at fancy restaurants, I got to witness some of these same execs utilize their entitlement to chew out waiters and waitresses. "You've got to be kidding!" "Take this back!" "I'll never eat here again!" "I pay good money to eat here!" So, was that what it meant to be rich? Was that what "success" really meant? To be able to chew out the "little people?"
Later in life, I had the "privilege" of receiving my own share of "chew outs." One experience particular marked me for life. As I silently listened by phone, this "senior type" told me I had "put the company at risk." I had "_________ up!" I "failed." I "just don't get it!" As I painfully endured his wrath and his rant, I thought to myself, "You are so wrong!" "You have no idea!" "I'm a person and you're treating me like an animal!" "I've gone out of my way to serve you and this is what I get for it?"
My guess is that in his mind, he had put me in my place and if things did go wrong, he had his person to blame all set up. Possibly he may even have thought he was upping my level of excellence. A few days later, the details came to light and I was actually vindicated. His numbers hadn't been checked and his worse case scenario wasn't even possible. However, as you might imagine, the damage was done. His "sorry bout that" did little to restore what the chew out had undermined. His polite "How's it going?" didn't rebuild the damaged trust, relationship and desire.
Chew outs and blame do nothing to create positive team cultures. They do nothing to build trust, respect, creativity and excellence.
So have I done my own share of chewing out, blaming and fault-finding? Sadly, yes. "Hey," I think to myself, "I've had to put up with it!" And you might ask, "So, how's that working for you?" And the answer would be. www.JeffCaliguire.com
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