Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Glenford Smith | Chewed out by supervisor

Published:Sunday | October 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: Mr Smith, I am glad to see you writing in The Sunday Gleaner again. I usually look forward to reading your Career articles, so keep up the good work. Recently, I got into some hot water with my supervisor, who had given me something really important to do and I forgot. Her anger was understandable, to be honest. I need some help with my response, however. I sort of lost my mind over it. I became flustered and everybody could see how embarrassed I was. How can I react calmly in the future?

- T


CAREERS: It’s great you’ve found value in reading Careers articles. And thank you for your letter. Please be reminded that The Gleaner does publish articles on a Wednesday as well.

What you’ve shared is common to most of us at one time or the other if we’re honest. Frankly speaking, we don’t always have it all together as we would want others to believe, especially our co-workers and our children. We want to come across as in control of things and as if nothing can get us unsettled or bothered. But this is an illusion.

So keep in mind that this too shall pass. We all forget important things at times – even the supervisor. We sometimes lose important things and are late for important functions. Sometimes it’s not entirely our fault; sometimes, like your case, it is.

What you must do is learn to take it in stride and see how you can grow through the experience.

It seems that it is after your supervisor ‘dragged you over the coals’ that you became flustered. You must realise something crucial, though, and it is this: when you have done something wrong such as you did and you are getting thrashed over it, that is the time to get real quiet. Apologise immediately and unreservedly.

Do not start to give a litany of excuses, rationalisations, and blame someone or something else other than yourself. Take responsibility.

People will pay attention if you adapt quickly to the circumstance and not get flustered or agitated when things don’t go as planned. Be flexible. Don’t take it personally, especially if you get chewed out over it.

Now, you also want to ensure that such a thing happens only once. This is very critical when it has to do with your job. You have said your supervisor’s “anger was understandable”, which means that you knew how important your task was. You now have to sit down and plan out your work schedule so you don’t have a repeat.

If you normally do not have a to-do list, perhaps you could start one. Remember, if you keep on doing the same old things, you will keep on getting the same old results – in this case, a result called “forgetting to do the important thing” your supervisor was depending on. This will make for a more organised you.

With regard to remaining calm in a similar situation, you will need to practise, practise, and practise. Bear in mind that if you do not indulge your dark thoughts, they will go away and will likely be replaced by better ones.


- Glenford Smith is president of CareerBiz Coach and author of ‘From Problems to Power’ and ‘Profile of Excellence’.