Ken, project manager for a Northwest contractor, told Session 2B of the Leadership Development LAB,
“In the fall of 2000, I was working on a big apartment construction project in Sacramento, CA. I had just bought a cordless tool kit for around $500. One day when I came back from lunch, I found my new cordless drill missing. In a flash, my temper got the best of me. I went outside to the front of the building and started yelling for everyone working there to come out and bring me my drill!
“I noticed a guy on the third floor looked out. I knew him—he was one of the guys I had formed a friendly relationship with. He had an odd expression on his face. When I asked him if he had my drill he answered yes. I was yelling at him when he said, ‘I was getting ready to leave for lunch and saw your new drill sitting out in the open. I knew someone would steal it, so I picked it up and tried to find you. I couldn’t find you so I took it with me to keep it safe until I found you.’
“I tried to apologize, but our relationship was never the same.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that it not only hurts others, but myself as well when I lose my temper and fly off the handle.
“The action I call you to take is when something bad happens to you, or even if you just think something bad has happened, start by getting all the facts. Remember: when you fly off the handle, you lose all your leverage.
“The benefit you will gain is your peers and people around you will respect you more. They will take you more seriously and see you as someone they can learn from.”
Let this story sink in. Read Ken’s lesson learned, action call, and benefits at least three times. Once you’ve lost your temper, it’s very difficult to undo the damage to your working relationships and your reputation. Resolve now to approach problems with patience, get all the facts, and never fly off the handle.
Not finding something where you thought you last left it is always frustrating. No doubt you’ve experienced this—we all do—and we can be sure it will happen again. Of course, keeping your own things put away in their designated places and properly secured will reduce these kinds of incidents. But sometimes things go missing. How will you respond?
Decide now that you won’t assume the worst, won’t start fuming and yelling and making a fool of yourself. Instead, pursue information in a friendly tone. If appropriate, ask team members to help you find the missing item. Thank them for their help, whether they find it or not. Remember, it’s far easier to replace a lost item than it is to rebuild a lost relationship or reputation.