The injustice of slights. Or the worst mistake I’ve ever made as a manager.

There are times as people we carry slights. They, the slights, are often unintended but they happen. We, as people, carry them, remember them far longer than they deserve. I wonder sometimes, why we let the slight dig in so deeply. I suspect deep inside this issue there is a communication pattern and communication anti-pattern just waiting to be expressed.

Just let it go.

Some of the best advice that all of us give. Just let it go. We tell our children that, our friends that and our often our co-workers that. Just let it go. But the thing is, do we? Now I am not talking about injustice here. If someone has truly wronged you, you have to deal with that. I am talking instead about a perceived wrong. Not a real wrong. Please don’t email me or comment about real wrongs done to you. Those are things you have to deal with.

Rather it is the perception of being wronged when in reality you weren’t wronged. I have a former boss that frankly I have nothing to do with, that once promised me in front of the entire team “if you win this deal with this customer I will get you an award.” We did win the deal with the customer. But the award never happened. Nor was it ever acknowledged. That is a real wrong. So I have nothing to do with that person, period.

Over the years though there are times when I’ve thought I heard someone say something they actually didn’t say. That perceived injustice is the one that gnaws at you. Keeps you from considering that you didn’t hear those words. I find that many times simply stopping and asking the person resolves the issue.

That said, systemic issues also exist. If someone feels slighted and they address that by approaching their boss. It is critical as a boss that you deal with the issue. As a boss I once dealt with a situation that I know I should have handled differently.

The team was bringing in a new manager. The new manager was a great person and a great fit for the role of team lead. There was a person on the team who felt they should be the leader of the team. They however, never expressed that feeling directly. Bringing in this new manager onto my team without knowing the person in question felt that way ultimately undercut the new manager completely.

First off, the person on the team that ultimately wanted the manager’s job wasn’t qualified. The person also wasn’t either fair to the new person or to me. The person undercut me with my boss and undercut the new manager with my boss. Eventually the new manager couldn’t take the political games played and ended up leaving the company. I still to this day feel horrible about the way that was handled. I feel like, I know actually I let the new manager down. I also feel like I know there was an injustice done by the employee. Twice in fact that person did their best to completely destroy the team we were trying to build. In the end that person completed one of the worst acts of team destruction I’ve ever seen or been a part of. Sad in the end.

I will forever feel bad about how that happened.

Balancing the knowledge that you slighted someone accidentally or on purpose is part of being human. We all make mistakes. When you do, don’t compound the mistake by making a worse one. Go first the first one. Talk to everyone involved. Don’t compound everything by making that team weaker.

As the line from the song goes “you have to live with yourself.”


Still sad, but trying to learn…