Working in IT can be difficult because your job is to make sure that everything works well all the time. When technology breaks, you are expected to fix it immediately and then answer the question “Why did this happen?” so that you can correct the problem. On days when things do break, I tell my daughter what system broke and give a brief summary of what we did to fix it. Then we talk about her day. What went wrong and what went right with her classes or homework or friends. I always start with what was wrong and then finish with what went right.
This isn’t just a problem for me or just in the IT field. This is a problem for all of us. Stuff breaks or doesn’t work out well and, honestly, we have to deal with it. The question is how do you deal with it? Do you come home angry? Do you yell and scream? Do you leave it at the office? Do you go and hide somewhere while you sulk? None of these are productive.
Below are several steps you can use to deal with the issue and turn it from a bad day into a learning experience.
1. Admit that it was a bad day. So you had a bad day. Maybe it was epic. Acknowledge that it was rough. Give yourself a few minutes to feel sorry for yourself and then move on.
2. Identify what went wrong. We learn so much more from the hard times than we ever do from the good times. Write down what went wrong so that you know what needs to improve.
3. Identify what went right. Yes, something went right. Did the team respond quickly? Did the process work itself out? Did you go out of your way to take care of the customer? Write this down so that you can share and reward the positive.
4. Create a list of action items. Identify what needs to change to improve upon your weaknesses. Identify the resources needed and then schedule the time to get it fixed. Next reward the strengths. Tell your team what they did right. Reward the team members that delivered the exceptional customer service. Take care of these items in the near term. Never put it off and say that you will fix it later or reward the team later. Later never seems to come.
5. Enjoy your time at home. Yes, I let my daughter and wife know that it was a bad day. I give a quick explanation and then move on. More importantly, I talk to my daughter about her day. I move on and away from my problem. It has been fixed and we know how to make it better. Through this I am showing her that we all have bad days. That we all make mistakes. And that is more than OK. It is normal.
How you show up for a problem and how you lead your team, your family or your friends will make the difference in their lives and your life. We need to learn from our mistakes and then we need to use it as a teachable moment for all those around us. Don’t come home and take out your problems on everyone else. Teach them how to overcome their problems.