Are you a ‘Mr. Earl’?

I shared the story and video of my high school experience with guidance counselor, ‘Mr. Earl’. And I know most people I speak with – successful or in need of some help from – have their own ‘Mr. Earl’ moments to share.

But what about the flip side of the coin? Are you a ‘Mr. Earl’? And if so, what can and should you do to help others achieve, especially if you supervise or manage employees or lead an organization?

Pros and Cons of ‘Mr. Earls’

I’m sure there are times and places for “honesty” and tough love. But is there ever a time when a supervisor, counselor or other influencer should tell a person he or she is stupid and will never make it at “fill in the blank”? Even if ‘Mr. Earl’ had been right about me, how could he have handled his concerns differently?

Why You Should Check Your Inner ‘Mr. Earl’

Most importantly, what sort of effect can ‘Mr. Earl’ moments from managers have on your company, including employee engagement, turnover and performance?

They say, people don’t quit companies, they quit their managers! In fact, a 2017 a Gallup poll reported that 75 percent of the reasons employees cited for quitting their jobs boiled down to factors their managers could influence. Examples are lack of promotional opportunities, lack of fit for the job, scheduling and inflexibility, and especially the management and general work environments.

What to do instead? Develop Potential and Foster Success!

You can address each of these reasons (above) and to keep your employees engaged and on the path to success. We can help! For example, why not help an employee whose skills or passion don’t quite line up with current job tasks and shift him/her to work that does match? Won’t this flexibility make for a stronger team?

Could you spend more of your time helping develop potential and less time looking for faults or criticizing performance? I’m not asking you to ignore problem behaviors or performance issues, but determine when it’s better to foster skills and talent than try to change a person entirely.

Finally, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and being critical of a person. If ‘Mr. Earl’ had told me he thought I should prepare more for college, he would have seemed a little more supportive, honest and less critical. Even better, he could have based his criticism on facts, such as: “You will have a hard time getting into your desired universities with your current GPA. You need to bring your grades up, or maybe consider community college as a stepping stone.” That might not have been what I wanted to hear, but advice based on reality rather than opinion is much more constructive.

As I said in my speech to University of Southern California women, ‘Mr. Earl’ served as a curious source of power for me. Sometimes, being told you can’t do something gives you more vision, more perseverance. Who’s to say, however, that I – or a fellow student – would have taken the criticism to heart, lost confidence and let it affect self-esteem? And do you want to take that chance with people who work for you, contribute to your department and company bottom line?

It can be too easy to personalize an employee’s shortcomings and voice frustration in a personal manner. Avoid your inner Mr. Earl by taking a step back and looking at the employee’s potential. What value does he or she bring to your team? Is this employee a star and possible self-starter?

Once you look for potential instead of faults, you can develop employees’ talents for the good of the individual and your organization. Learn more about how (425-485-3221)  can help you and your team focus on the passion, power and vision to succeed.