I was having a conversation with my son the other day. He was getting me up to speed on what was happening in his fairly new management position. He’s been at this job for about three months now, so he’s beginning to feel more comfortable with the routine. This is a far cry from where he was about three months ago, when he was so stressed and anxious that he didn’t know what to tackle first. So much had been neglected for so long that he had difficulty trying to prioritize — everything needed to be done yesterday.
About one month ago, he called to get my advice on a situation at work and stated, “managing people is really hard work.” Yes, it’s hard work and can give you a lot of headaches, but it can also be very rewarding. He’s already had his first hire, his first fire and his first walk out. Each one of those was difficult but he survived the experience and learned greatly.
Now, back to his current situation at work. The owner was in town for a week to check up on the office and make sure things were going well. With the owner present, one of the workers walked in abruptly and aggressively demanded a raise that she felt was well deserved. She believed that she was doing more work than any other worker. Her delivery was devoid of any finesse and her timing was inappropriate. This employee felt that she had the upper hand because of the recent high turnover. What came next in the exchange surprised me.
My son responded calmly and assertively that her approach was ineffective for this situation. He explained to her that if she truly wanted to receive a raise, she was not going to get one by coming across in a threatening, offensive manner. Then, he explained to her the appropriate way to receive what she wanted in the workplace. He also explained to her what he would need to see in order for her to receive her desired raise.
He shared with me that he certainly didn’t make her happy. Frankly, I know that was hard for him. I reassured him that he had handled the management situation like a pro — way beyond his experience level.
Let’s be honest here. The easy solution to this problem was to give this employee what she wanted. He could have given her the money that would satisfy her — for now. However, that wasn’t the right thing to do. That would have been a short-term decision to help him get through the next couple weeks. Chances are strong that that decision would have come back to haunt him in the not so distant future.
It takes a lot of strength to do what’s right in our careers, not to mention our personal life too. Making decisions today based on our long-term goals instead of what’s easier is hard work. However, the willpower to stay the course is truly the key to success. It’s also one of the most important traits of a strong leader.
Make sure that you’re planting the seeds of success in your career, your family, and your relationships by developing this essential muscle.