Hey team, all right, Workshop Wednesday. So I was recently reminded. I did an episode, I believe it was last week working with part of our leadership team. I talked about a situation that happened to me quite a while ago. It was over 20 years ago. I had an officer when I was working within the federal government, he liked to smoke on duty. When I was a kid, when I was in my early 20s and I was a supervisor, I had this black-and-white mentality.
Some of you might recognize that. Sometimes many of you may say “Chad, you haven’t changed any!” Well, you should have known me 20-some years ago. I would have had hair though. I had hair right up here, not here but I would have had it all up here.
Anyway, we’ll call him Duke. He was in his mid-50s and he would be smoking on duty. It was a violation of both government policy and company policy. I’d given him a number of corrective actions and one day at work, Duke had a minor heart attack. Duke then went to the hospital. They did an angioplasty thing where they cleared the blockage in his artery. He was off for a few more days. He ended up losing about five days’ worth of work.
Well back then, in the early 2000s or late 90s, you didn’t have PTO. You didn’t have sick time, you didn’t have vacation unless you’d been there at least a year. Duke hadn’t been there a year yet. And he didn’t have the sick time. He didn’t have any of that available to him. So that means five days loss of work on 12-hour days at 60 hours. That means he lost right in the neighborhood of almost two weeks’ worth of work. I think most of you can imagine what would happen if you didn’t work for two weeks and didn’t have any money to pay your bills, to pay your rent and things like that.
So I went out and I got him a 250 gift card at Safeway. Me and my wife did and we put a card. I left it at his desk in the lobby of the building he was working at, OFB and he found it. And I didn’t put my name on it or anything because this was a union shop, I was the leader. I just wanted to do something nice for somebody. I’m not looking for pats on the back at the time.
A few months later I had to give him another corrective action and the Vice-President of the union, We got together and they were harping on how horrible of a leader I was. And how I was out to get Duke. Then they referenced this card and they referenced the fact that the company was doing this nice thing for Duke. Here I was just being this horrible person.
My director stopped the meeting and asked me to leave the room. Later he told me that he explained to them that I gave the card. He knew I had gifted the card and that they got me all wrong. That changed something in Duke because Duke called me that weekend and he wanted to have a meeting. First, I was a little scared. It’s like wait a second, you don’t have your union rep with you. That’s probably not a good idea. You know, a lot of things running through my mind and but I had the meeting. We had a cup of coffee. We sat down at Denny’s and we had a nice talk.
I found out that Duke’s son, who was about my age, had died in a motorcycle accident running from the police. I found out that Duke and his wife were taking care of two twin three-year-old girls and that the mother was either dead or in jail. Duke wasn’t sure which one. I found out that every time Duke saw me challenge him and talk to him, he saw his son. And I saw that the behavior that Duke had, the smoking, was a coping mechanism for the stress which obviously had quite a bit of it.
I learned early in life at that moment in my leadership that all behavior communicates a need. All behavior communicates a need. So when you’re dealing with somebody at work when you’re dealing with your supervisor, maybe it’s me, my behavior communicates a need. Maybe you’re dealing with a subordinate. Their behavior communicates a need. Maybe you’re dealing with your wife. Her behavior communicates a need. Maybe you’re dealing with your husband right now. His behavior communicates a need. Maybe it’s your sister, maybe it’s your parents, maybe it’s your child. Right? It’s your kid, your boys, your girl. They’re so sweet but their behavior communicates a need.
When we get tired, when we get hungry, when we get fed up, when we get stressed. Our behavior communicates a need.
So what is that need? Because I never had a problem with Duke again. We worked together for another couple of years and I never had a problem with him again. Because I recognized his behavior communicated a need. I recognized that he was actually a good person and I started working with him on his issues and we fixed it.
I learned something that day. Something maybe I need to pull back out of a hat and remember today. Because sometimes I’m grumpy. Sometimes I’m not recognizing that somebody’s behavior is communicating in need and I’m not looking for that answer.
So as you move through this week, this is a pretty heavy lesson, isn’t it? Workshop Wednesday, that’s what it’s about. Learning how to better work on our issues to make us better for our community, better for our teams, and better for our families. That’s what Workshop Wednesday is all about guys. So as you march through the rest of this week and next week and this year, remember all behavior communicates a need. What is that behavior? What is that need? Fix that and watch your relationships grow in a positive way.
All right. Have a great rest of your Wednesday. Be valuable because nothing less will do. You already knew that though.