Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pause. Think. React

Just because we grow up doesn't mean we get that much better at behaving like adults. More than once as a manager, I've had to referee disputes between employees that would have been more fitting on a playground than in the workplace. It's worse though when we receive one-sided reports of poor behavior. When it's kids, we call it tattling, and there are good reasons to hold a bias for kids/employees to work it out amongst themselves.

Parents generally know something about getting dragged into the middle of such "Did!" "Did not!" arguments that managers often forget and voters hardly seem to know at all. Smart parents understand the importance of taking a moment to pause before reacting, to think about whether what's just been reported is actually true. They ask themselves first, "Does this even make sense?"

They also recognize that sometimes individuals providing their accounts of the matter often have their own agendas or biases that color their perceptions even when they are honestly trying to be truthful. The only sure-fire way to ascertain the truth is clear-eyed research using objective resources although sometimes getting both parties in front of you to respond to probing questions works too.

Then, when you have a better understanding of the truth, ask yourself what the potential impact is and how much it really matters. Only at this point is it safe to react, so it helps to practice your poker face for all the time in between.

I'm just glad I've already voted. Now I can ignore the rest of the crazy-making accusations flying around this last few days before election day. It will be like turning up the music in the front of the car while kids argue in the back.

What research do you need to do to make an informed decision based on objective fact?