The Hard Days

**This post has a military lean but can be useful to anyone who has to file paperwork/discipline employees**

My leadership lesson of the day…today was hard.

Today was hard because I had a lot of things to get done…and those are not always rainbows and fairies…It is also the hard stuff.

There is a difference between discipline and rehabilitation. In order to effectively lead, one must know when each part is necessary and when you have the legal authority to do either.
As a fantastic first shirt reminded me – rehab is when you want to keep in the system, but adjust behavior; discipline is when it is time to get out of the system and return the individual to civilian life ( in some fashion)…and I take that to heart.

That does not make it easy.

A few things I do to help me/my folks:

1. I work to schedule these events on Tue/Wed/Th so my folks do not have to dread a Monday and supervision can see them before the weekend.

2. Anytime you are getting any paperwork from “the boss” it is an emotional event. It should be…but these individuals are still part of this family and deserve respect and someone to ‘catch them’ and talk them through it. Therefore leadership, to include first level supervisors are advised of taking care of our folks before, after, and in between these events.

3. Stick to the paperwork. People get in trouble when they get a bit to chatty during the actual event. Save that for when the formal portion is over or a few days before.

4. Make them stand back. No one approaches my desk. There should be more than reach out room from them to me for a few reasons. One main reason is that when people approach a desk and stand at attention…being as short as I am…their…personal area is usually eye level with me…and that is weird and ewwww (LOL)! Soooooo….we advise where to stand and how close to go – to keep everything….even :0P

5. If you need a minute…take the minute. Today we had some hard discipline to give…It was hard to watch the person’s face, it was hard to read, it was hard to do…my Chief saw my face when it was over and the rooms was clear and asked “ma’am do you need a minute?”
I wanted to say no…I am a leader and strong and capable…but in my heart I knew I needed a second to process before I saw my next person. “Thanks chief, if you could give me 5.” To me – that is being human…and accepting that you need a breath. Take the minute.

6. Do not give “rehabilitation” paperwork in anger. Be sure it is justifiable to yourself two months later. Be sure that the person replacing you in your position can read the paperwork and – even if they do not agree – understand the cause and effect. This is hard but helps the next boss truly “see” patterns or, if they are just reviewing a file, growth.

7. Do not shrink from making the decision and moving out. Nothing is worse than lingering. You and your people deserve better. This is different than taking the time to figure out the appropriate course of action…this is when you try to just ‘let situations resolve.’ Do not be that kind of leader. If you are charged with leading, you must be able to cheerlead entrances and exits of personnel…not just one side.

8. To repeat a really great article…”NEVER ENJOY DOING THIS.” If you have someone who enjoys this part – beware. If you are someone who wants to just “chew some @%%” – go in your car and yell at the wheel. There are ways to make a point without belittling people…time and a place for elevated vocals…but I have always found those monotone people scarier…you never know what will set them off!
Never enjoy this…

9. Walk out fresh. If you need a re-set after taking your minute and issuing paperwork, go see folks who are doing this thing right. They could be right outside your door – ready to show you all the greatness. Remind yourself that one persons current situation is not a judgement on their worth as a human…and that there are so many people bursting with pride in what they do…to re-energize you and keep you focused on the main goal…mission first, people always.

Although I can sometimes exude confidence ( and humility :0P)…I do get very nervous when stepping out of my zone.

You know the safe place.

The place that feels like those comfortable pajamas and hot cocoa on a snowy day. The warm blanket that covers you when you need a good sleep…The hug you needed on the day that was not your best….that safe place.