With everything going on in my life, I've started to really lose my patience for the behavior of adults acting like children. My new business has started to feel like an adult day care at times, but this week, accidentally I learned a valuable lesson. Stand your ground.
You know when I was doing puppy training with my dog Porkchop (he's now 4), the most effective form of training, above everything, was consistency. The more consistent I was, the more he seemed to respect the rules.
Like for example, riding in the car. It was dangerous for him to ride in the front seat, so anytime he tried to enter the front seat, he was immediately reprimanded to get back in the back seat. Not a single time for a single second was he allowed in the front. After a couple weeks, he didn't even try. He understood his boundary.
But, over the years, some of the house rules were hard to enforce. Sometimes he was really cute and I didn't stick to the consistency and therefore he didn't respect the boundaries. He tried me each and every time until he got what we wanted.
I think that's leadership in any category.
Back to the adult children I manage.
I was spectating my softball league on Thursday nights. We initiated a new rule under my leadership to make the games run smoother. We schedule our games to be about 1 hour long. So the first game starts at 7pm and the second game starts at 8pm, considering the fact the our first game ends on time.
Lately it hasn't. Sometimes that first game doesn't end on time and it pushes back our games by a lot.
So under the new rule we have a cutoff period. After 50 minutes a new inning cannot start. So, during our first week under this new rule, one of our games went super smoothly. Our umpire gave both teams enough notice and when the game ended, it ended peacefully.
Unfortunately the game on another field did not go this way. Our umpire did not do his job and did not warn the teams about the time limit rule. When I came over to tell him that we're at the 1 hour mark, he abruptly ended the game since the inning had just finished. The losing team came over confused and upset, asking why they were not warned that that previous inning was the last inning.
Their argument was that had they known they were playing their last inning, they would've "played better".
Their captain, who is someone I expect to be the least emotional person on their team, began yelling at me. Calling me all sorts of names, accusing me of poor leadership, threatening to take his team and leave... and everything in between. Physically this man was bigger than me and on-top of it was someone I was personally friendly with (he recently sold me my work van).
So, like any good customer service, I asked him, "How can I make it right?"
This man was like a 5 year old, asking all sorts of unreasonable requests.
So I said, no. I'm not doing that. I STOOD MY GROUND. I said this is how we're doing things now, I'm sorry you don't like it.
Which was something I had to say to a few people this week for different reasons.
In those 3 separate occasions, after I told each of them NO, they each apologized for their behavior and also included that they respected me for standing my ground.
What I learned this week was to be tough. Listen to feedback, but don't let it break you. Just because someone is unhappy, or because they raise their voice or they intimidate you, don't change who you are. If you feel like something is the right decision, stick with it.
Just like dogs, people follow and respect consistency. Had I made adjustments because someone yelled at me, I would've lost respect by the majority. Everyone in the league would've learned that in order to get their way, all they had to do was yell at me. Instead they learned that the rules are the rules and no amount of bitching is going to change that.
After a couple of weeks of this, I bet they won't even try.
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