Give people the benefit of the doubt...


I loved reading all of James Michener’s books – sweeping novels with stories and characters spanning many generations.  Unlike the fictional people in those books, folks like us have to face life’s challenges in real time and don’t get to rewrite the storyline if it doesn’t suit them. When things don’t go right, we’re often forced to redo them, sometimes more than once. This happened a lot this past year, as leaders struggled to make decisions in a quickly changing environment where previous norms and rules failed to apply. They agonized whether to keep people on or lay them off, often with employees they’d known a long time. Long-term relationships were broken in some instances; in others, businesses failed in lieu of breaking those relationships. There were too many instances where the only choices were bad ones. And now that we’re seeing a light at the end of this tunnel, it will inevitably shine on the loss of trust that many companies had worked so hard to create. Whether people will give their previous leaders  a second or third chance to reestablish that trust will rest on how those decisions were made and whether they were communicated with appropriate transparency and empathy. Use the experiences and lessons learned throughout this pandemic to help rebuild that trust today.

 

James Michener (1907 – 1997): American author