I had to tell someone off today.
It’s the first time I’ve ever done it. All my life I’ve been the pupil, the child, the employee – and generally I’ve struck a fine line between compliance and rebellion. (My English teacher once called me “subversive” which I took as a massive compliment. And knowing him, he probably meant it as one).
In the words of Jack O’Neil from Stargate:
I have spent my life sticking it to the man. Now I am the man.
But I think this is probably good. You want your people in authority to have a healthy distrust of authority. You want them to be challenging themselves and aware of what authority does to people.
I think I handled the telling off quite well. It struck the right balance, something L has always been good at at work, between chastising without getting personal.
The one thing I did forget to say was something along the lines of “this isn’t an exercise in fault finding, we just want to make sure it won’t happen again”. But I think that was the general impression.
I didn’t bulldozer quite as much as I have before, and in hindsight perhaps I should have a little bit more. But what I did right was leave it a few days. The “incident” (I’ve made it sound a much bigger deal than it was here) happened on Tuesday, but I left it until Friday, once everyone had calmed down, to have a chat about what had happened and to give the firm message that this wouldn’t happen again.
If you can keep your cool, I think you keep your respect as well. Fear isn’t any way to manage, and if you get too authoritarian, people will start coming up with ways to bypass you.