Managers at all levels are on a stage. You stand alone and open for everyone to see. Your decisions and actions are judged by those who report to you.
Therefore, you must be ever-mindful of a critical cause and effect relationship. I call it “the permanent reminder of a temporary feeling”. I give credit to Jimmy Buffett for first penning that phrase (great song by the way). Yet how powerful is the word picture.
There are times in life when your emotions crowd out your common sense and better judgment. Reasoning takes a back seat to the fury of the moment. You are overcome by a ‘temporary feeling’.
In your management role, you must learn how to guard against letting that feeling take over and cause a permanent reminder.
What is a permanent reminder? The list may be long. It can include:
- Lashing out in rage
- Name calling
- Making a demeaning statement to someone
- Physical harm like throwing things
- Making knee-jerk decisions
You may think these sound extreme. I would agree, but I have seen it done.
Everything on this list causes a permanent reminder. Your action in that moment creates a sometimes indelible mark in the minds of those who witness your response.
This theme is included in many of the books about building better relationships. When you let a temporary feeling create a permanent reminder, you have a problem.
It takes a great deal of energy and effort to repair the damage.
How to guard against this?
I believe that first and foremost you must have a keen awareness of the possibility of this happening. You have to know that when things pop up at work or at home, your actions need to be carefully gauged. Whether your natural response is verbal or physical, you need to be able to put on the brake. Otherwise, those around you (who perhaps had nothing to do with the situation) may become victims of your response. That is when the permanent reminder is born.
You are not perfect. If a situation happens, do some after-action reporting for yourself. Reprocess the timeline and see when or how you may have gone off course. Use these experiences to learn.
Lastly, but of utmost importance, is the need to begin repairs if and when a situation causes damage. Be humble. Apologize with all sincerity.
One last note.
There is an upside to this cause and effect scenario. Flip it around… good feelings can create lasting and very favorable permanent reminders. If you try to make your temporary process a positive one for dealing with the various moments in life, you can build memorable reminders.