Don't be an Ass Leader!
I started a bathroom renovation project on January 31 and hired a referred General Contractor (GC) for the job.
Over the course of the project, the GC was having some attendance issues. He showed up only once before 10 am and had many absences. There have been various reasons for his lateness or absence altogether, from illness to lack of sleep to a car accident with my favorite being:
“I dropped my phone at the dump and lost it. Been getting a new phone.”
We all know the person that seems to constantly run into issues. This is that guy. I’m not doubting any of his reasons, but unfortunate situations seem to happen often to him.
In the HR world, he would be on an Attendance Management program for sure. In this world though, I was nervous to say anything to him because GCs are so hard to find right now. I didn’t want to cause any friction for fear he would just walk off the job and leave me with a partially finished bathroom.
We went on vacation for 10 days and he committed that the project would be completed by the time I came home. It wasn’t. Very little had been accomplished in the 10 days we were gone. Ugh. I became very frustrated, angry, and annoyed.
My logical mind said that maybe he is just disorganized, lacks accountability, and maybe I was being too understanding. “Give an inch, take a mile” sort of thing. I decided that he needed a plan to get the project over the finish line and I could help him make it happen!
I wrote him a text expressing my disappointment and how we can create a plan to finish the project. It wasn’t a rude text, but it was direct and to the point, and a little harsh.
The next day I had not heard from the GC and the plumber showed up. He said they agreed to meet at the house but he couldn’t get a hold of him. So, now both of us are annoyed and just getting each other more and more upset. We were on downward blame and complain spiral.
Later that day, my doorbell rang. It was the GC’s mother who told me that he had been admitted to the hospital 4 days prior. She very lovingly shared his story and said he asked her to come and tell me because he didn’t have his cell phone in the hospital, and he didn’t want me to worry. Ooof! I am an ASS! 😞
When he came back this week, we had a heart-to-heart, and he was in tears telling me his story and feeling so grateful that I was understanding of his situation.
In the end, I still feel like such an ASS. 😞 As much as I can appreciate the mounting frustrations that I experienced, he had a story. A real story that required me to be compassionate and empathetic. He needed me to show up in a more human way for him. What if instead of me just allowing his ongoing absences with excuses to continue, I just acknowledged it with him and offered support?
Another lesson in being human and in being a leader. Next time your staff starts showing attendance or performance issues out of the ordinary, show kindness, compassion, empathy, and curiosity first and foremost.