This post builds on the last post about not letting them (the client) see you panic. Don’t panic – just fix it – is a worthwhile mantra in the workplace, and in life. Panic and fear get in the way of fixing things. I was a Boy Scout long enough to learn about the need to be prepared. In this context, the preparation is for the reality that things can, and do, go wrong with the “puzzle” of a research day that has many parts. The technical puzzle involves connecting cameras, microphones, and lots of wires to ensure that we can observe and record the research day proceedings. My “being prepared” thought process involves having back up cables, connectors, wires, cameras and mics. When a problem arises, deducing the problem must happen immediately. I have tried to train staff to sort out the possibilities of the most likely culprits. The good ones learn to do this, or relatedly, quietly (as per the prior post) while getting my attention to help debug the situation. Further, though, being prepared means setting up and testing the night before the mock trial, well before the clients arrive, and before others on the research team arrive. Releasing the panic pressure valve by having time to set up, test, and retest results in considerably fewer mistakes and panic situations. But, accepting that, if something goes wrong, the only appropriate response is to dig in and fix it has been lost on a few of our prior staff. Those who could not do this did not have much longevity at Magnus!
David and I share the same philosophy: Don’t panic – just fix it! I will never, ever, forget the time when one of our long ago employees broke the toilet seat, and instead of admitting what she had done, panicked and remained silent. Guess who was the next person to use the restroom and attempt to sit on the completely destroyed and unusable toilet? The boss (me!)! Not good. In this instance, neither David nor I would expect an employee to fix a broken toilet, but we would expect the person who broke it to admit to doing so, then offer to call a plumber, or drive to a store that sells toilets, or offer to pay for the damage. To us, that’s just the decent thing to do. If you break it, fix it. If you see someone else break it, tell him or her to fix it. At a minimum, if you know something is broken, don’t just sit around and do nothing. Tell your boss. Tell someone. Get help. Don’t try to cover up the mistake. Trust me; covering up a mistake , particularly one that caused damage to the boss’ property, will never result in a happy outcome. No one is perfect. Things break. Get over it. Don’t panic – just fix it!