Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Bad Behaviour

“Opportunity is missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  Thomas A Edison

My siblings used to tease me about being the one who never got into trouble. They still pepper me with their jokes. I was the perfect one. Didn’t have a single voice raised against me. Ever.

I don’t remember it that way.

I have memories of being sent to my room for saying something mean to my sister or pestering my brother. He was scared of the dark. I’d turn off the light when he was in the bathroom, mostly to get him out of there. My parents saw it differently.

Usually after being sent to my room, my mother or father (sometimes both) would come in for a talk. There were more questions, than discussion. What did I think I did wrong? Why was I punished? How did it make my sister or brother feel when I did such and such? How would I feel if it was done to me?

I did most of the talking, my eyes averted.

With their persistence, I saw the error of my ways. It wasn’t unlike what my first employers did when I screwed up an order or broke some plates or showed up late for work. No, they didn’t send me to my room. But they had a chat with me, helped me see what I’d done wrong, how to fix it and more importantly to learn from the experience so it didn’t happen again. I remembered those lessons throughout my subsequent jobs and career.

We all need this kind of guidance from individuals who care enough about us to make the effort.

I was upset to hear about the incident referred to by some as the Hydro Guy. Sure, he was a supreme sexist ass who did an incredibly stupid thing. No doubt about it. There is no condoning such behaviour. But what has firing the man taught him?

Absolutely nothing. 

An employer, like a parent, has a responsibility to teach, mentor, and guide those they employ. Yes, employees might embarrass you in the same way a child embarrasses a parent, but if you want the best for that individual you suck it up because frankly it’s not about you. It’s about them. The employee. The person who could thrive if someone bothered to take him or her under their wing.

Of late there has been a rash of firings of individuals who have made errors of judgement. And granted, some of these mistakes have been colossally humiliating for the employer. But a hero doesn’t fire and walk away. Sure, you might get some good press for taking this sort of action, but what have you really accomplished except taken care of yourself.

A real hero sticks it out. Ask any parent. They’ll tell you.

It’s messy business this doing the right thing. It requires getting your hands dirty. But most of all, it takes empathy and guts.

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