We welcome Nathan Caldwell, Amazon best-selling author of Empowering Kindness, back to the show to discuss company culture - this time addressing one specific, more difficult subject when it comes to kindness.
What does discipline or correction look like inside of a company that has dedicated itself to kindness? Mistakes will still be made--so how do we handle them while, at the same time, promoting a positive work environment?
Nathan responds masterfully -- enjoy!
Purchase Empowering Kindness by Nathan Caldwell at Amazon.com.
David Henderson: Hey everybody, welcome again to Time Out for Anesthesia. We are welcoming back, one of my favorite guests we've ever had on the show, author of Empowering Kindness, Nathan Caldwell. Welcome back to the show Nathan, how are you doing today?
Nathan Caldwell: Doing really great. Appreciate you having me on the show. I love it. [chuckle]
DH: We're certainly glad to have you here. Gotten a great response to our last show with you on it, now I wanted to come back Empowering Kindness, just to remind all of our viewers, give us just a brief overview about what the concept of Empowering Kindness is about, and then I have a challenge question for you today.
NC: Alright, yeah. So it's a double meaning, empowering kindness, because you want to give your people the authority, the autonomy, the ability to be kind, because then they will do amazing things, and also it's empowering when you are kind, in the book I go into several studies that show that we perform at our optimal level, when we are in an environment of kindness, when we are being kind to others, medical studies that even show that our immune system levels are boosted by even just seeing someone else be kind to someone, and so we're definitely designed to be kind, we just need to make sure that we are following through with it, 'cause it's take some work and it takes strength.
DH: So it's a double entendre?
NC: Absolutely. That's one of my chapters. It's called...
DH: I know [laughter]
DH: A completely appropriate double entendre.
DH: I love it. So good, I just wanna... I like to try and impress people and make them think that I know big words, but actually I read it in your book and then I looked it up.
NC: Well it's also a bilingual, because that's French, so...
NC: Your're so cultured...
DH: And I [0:02:06.6] ____ to the languages I just, I'm a very cultured individual. Thank you.
NC: You're a man of the people.
DH: Thank you for your kindness. [laughter] Anyway, I did... I wanted to dive in a little bit more specifically today, because I think there's two concepts that sometimes we see as opposing one another, and in fact, I do think that when they get in the same room, one tends to win, unfortunately, there's one that tends to win over the other. And that is when mistakes happen in the workplace from an executive or a boss's perspective, every once in a while, you're gonna have an employee who messes up and maybe I mean maybe they fell foul up royally, and I think it's gonna be extremely difficult in that moment to recall the concepts of kindness, if you haven't truly applied it to your character. Your book puts forward several steps to get to, and the final step is making kindness... It's just your character now, it is who you are. But in those difficult situations, how do you... I think you have such a good perspective on all of this, I wanted to... After our last meeting, I immediately wanted to ask you this, how does an employer, an executive employ kindness at the same time when they're having to discipline or correct somebody in the workplace?
NC: Yeah, so there's a pretty famous quote, and I'm not sure who generated it, but it's been shared by many different businesses, and that is, to be unclear, is to be unkind. And so to think about this situation with the employee that you would not be kind to them, you might be nice by avoiding the situation, but kindness isn't about niceness, kindness is about incorporating strength to benefit others, and so it can be very hard conversations. And so what I would say in that situation is to be very, very clear that to disassociate the action from the employee, because let's be honest, I'm sure that that employee has not been 100% mess up. Have there been times that employee has done a great job? Most likely, have they done their job well ongoing? Sure, there are times though, when you need to stop and say, "Okay, look, what you did here, the work that was done was a mistake. It was wrong, we cannot do this again, we also need to take a look at it to understand how did this happen, so we can avoid it in the future." If you think about too, some of the biggest mistakes that are happening right now are in things like wire transfer fraud, where an employee gets tricked into sending out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bad guys through a phishing email or through the bad guy appearing as another department saying, "Hey, by the way, I need you to transfer this money out to this account," it looks this happened to one of the Shark Tank people, Barbara Corcoran...
DH: Oh wow.
NC: Her company, they got social engineered. And the bad guys stayed in their email inboxes, undetected, read through everything, found out their process on how they wire funds, and then all they did was change a couple of numbers on the account number so that the money would go to the bad guys instead of the actual customer.
DH: Oh you're kidding, I had no idea.
NC: No and it worked. And so what happens to that employee, do you just say like, "Oh, we need to fire this employee we're so mad at you, I can't believe you did such a thing," like no they were tricked into this. And now, there's many other examples that we can look at where like, yes, a lot more of the responsibility falls on the employee, but the idea is still the same, to take a look at what was the mistake? How did it happen? How can we avoid it in the future? To partner with that employee almost to do the detective work. So that you can learn from that mistake and make sure it doesn't happen moving forward.
DH: There's also something inherent in what you're saying, and that is believing a certain truth about the people that you work with, and that is that generally speaking, people are good and they wanna do good things and they want good things to happen, so I love... I love the point that you're making about separating the bad action from the person themselves, and I think kind of what you move toward is questioning what are the outcomes, what are the anticipated outcomes from this meeting, because if you're walking into the meeting and this... I don't know that this always happens consciously necessarily, so maybe we need to be a lot more intentional about what we want the outcomes to be, but sometimes when somebody needs discipline, the only outcome of a bad meeting is I wanted that person to feel terrible about themselves.
NC: Oh yes. Oh, oh, that is such the case, [laughter] there are so many... Like you equate, okay this is how mad I am, so this is how much I'm going to punish the person, [chuckle] I'm this mad, so I need to scream at them for this long, and that is no way to treat employees like you need...
DH: Well that shows...
NC: To be looking for those opportunities for training. Also, the idea behind it is too two to carefully not just evaluate what was the problem, how did it happen, how do we stop it from happening again? But also to be introspective, to be like, "Well, did we do all we could to help this employee avoid such a terrible mistake? Are we enabling them? Did we set up clear expectations, did we set up clear reviews with the employee?" There are so many times employees go into an annual review and all year long have been told "Good job you're doing great," even will win awards, and then all of a sudden you sit down in the Annual Review and the supervisor or manager is like, "So you fell short on this piece," and it's like [chuckle] I would have loved to fix that in the 28 times we met one-on-one before this, and I asked specifically, "Is there anything I can do to be better? Is there anything that you see that is where I'm shortcoming?" Don't blind side people and say, "Okay, here's the moment you did something wrong and now we're going to just come down on you."
DH: Which comes back to your original quote, to be unclear is to be unkind.
DH: I think that can go a really long way and you're right, I think in those moments, if you're measuring like, I'm this angry, so this person needs to feel this bad, and I've seen employers, managers, things like that, we've probably all had one who you can tell that their motivation behind the conversation that you're having is, I need to see you feel bad about this, and that even when they see you be remorseful it actually fuels their fire even more, they get angrier or things like that, but that all comes back to... If we're thinking about the concepts in your book, it comes back to, "Well, who's that meeting about?" 'Cause it's not about the employee or helping them or moving them along or improving... It's not even about the company and how the company could benefit from this meeting or anything, it's actually... It's about the person who's doing the disciplining.
NC: Yeah, absolutely.
DH: It's about the person who is yelling and that's just the... It's the opposite, it's not gonna be helpful, but if that person can humble themselves. Put the other person first... My cat. [chuckle] Put the other person first, even put the company first and let their ego and let their anger and everything take a back seat, then all of a sudden, I think what you're gonna see are things like solutions come to the top. And if you can have an employee, if you can keep an employee who's been through a very difficult situation but knows how to never do that again, I think you're in a lot better place than firing them and starting over again with another employee who may come up against the same challenge. And make the same mistake.
NC: Yeah, absolutely, it's all about for the leaders to remain level-headed and say, "What can we do to prevent this from happening again, number one with this individual, but number two, moving forward with all of our employees?" And that's how you fix things rather than burying your head in the sand. Just getting mad. "Well, don't do it again." Okay, well, whip me, there are so many times mistakes are made based on employees following the directions that they were given, and then they fall into a pit because the plan that they were given or the plan they were asked to execute on, just didn't work, and that's okay, you gotta pivot. That's part of being a great leader and in business is, part of it is being able to pivot when plans don't work, and sometimes that can be... A plan could just blow up in your face and be a terrible mistake, or it could just be like, "Oh, we keep trying, we keep trying and we can't break through, and so let's do something different.
DH: Right. Well, I think that's an excellent answer. You've really answered my challenge that I had for you afterwards, no surprise to me that you had a great answer for it, [chuckle] but Nathan thank you again, I wanna remind everybody of your book Empowering Kindness, you can buy it on Amazon and have it shipped via Prime 'cause it'll get there quick, but I really enjoyed it, I think it can really, if applied, it can make a phenomenal difference inside of any company's culture. So thank you for your words, thank you for the book, and thank you for being on the show.
NC: Well, thank you so much for having me, really appreciate it, really appreciate being able to speak on this with you.
DH: Well, thanks a lot, Nathan, and thank you everybody for watching. We'll see you on the next episode of Time Out for Anesthesia. Bye-bye.