My Opinion: Communication Is Your Most Valuable Resource
April 25, 2016
Last week, a florist mentioned that he was having some issues with his assistant. For whatever reason, the assistant was having some trouble and the florist was pointing out mistake-after-mistake thinking he was helping his staff member learn. “I am so frustrated,” said the florist. “He was so great and now it’s one issues after another. How would you handle this?”
I thought about the many men and women I have worked for and with throughout my life and shared that I have learned. I have found that the best way to help people grow is to communicate with them and ask them what they need and make sure to focus on their strengths. By doing this, the weaker parts are seen as areas of opportunity and not a lack of talent or character issue. If there is one thing I know to be true it is that no one works well feeling as though they can never do anything right. Think about it: How many of us have been in a situation where someone is watching our every move and the nervous energy makes us make more mistakes than we would have otherwise? I know I have been there. I shared this information with the florist and asked him if he has asked if the assistant was OK and going through anything. “I hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted. I next asked how often he pointed out the good work done by his assistant and how often he let him know that he was pleased. “I think he knows I am happy for the most part,” he said. “I would tell him if I wasn’t.” When I gently pointed out that the only verbal feedback the assistant was receiving was negative, the florist had what he referred to as his “a-ha moment”.
Two days ago, he wrote me to let me know that he had a talk with the assistant to let him know what he liked about his work and it diffused the entire situation. The assistant confessed that he had been coming into the studio feeling anxious and worried about making more mistakes and that his confidence was at an all time low because he didn’t think he could do anything right. Apparently, the exchange was very positive and led to a plan of action to build the skills of the assistant and move forward on the same page. I really appreciated this feedback because I really believe that most “issues” can be fixed with good communication and mentoring one another is the only way for the whole company to become more productive. When you take the initiative to help someone grow instead of focusing on their weak parts, you often find that they are grateful and willing to rise to the occasion. This florist wasn’t a bad person or a bad boss, but like his assistant, he seemed to need a little feedback and guidance in getting things to run smoothly. We all need that at times.
Readers: Have you ever been on either side of this situation? How did you handle it?