At the winter holiday break during my 8th grade year, I brought home a special gift for my parents – an “F” in English on my report card.
And these were the old days when the teachers wrote in the grade in pen; so it was in RED. Ouch.
It was not a total surprise, but I didn’t think I was doing that badly.
The best part about this story – and probably the best learning for all of us – was how my parents reacted. Nobody got upset, it was mostly:
“Hmmm, so what happened.”
That attitude of inquiry helped us all figure out what happened. My parents calmly talked with me about what we had been studying and then they met with the teacher.
We had just moved to a new city, so I was in a new public school. I had a “B” in the first grading period, but then we focused on diagramming sentences. And we used a system for doing that which was foreign to me. By talking with the teacher, we discovered that everyone else had mastered this in 7th grade. Not Rob.
My Mom mobilized and made sure that she got her hands on the prior years’ books for all of the subjects for all four of her kids. She had her own library! This was not going to happen again.
Here are a few takeaways:
*This was my responsibility, and I should have started asking questions sooner. If you are given an assignment at work and you are confused, ask questions! Especially if you are getting some poor results. Don’t assume you will figure it out.
*Check in regularly with everyone on your team. My grades were usually pretty good and I was the oldest. My parents probably thought I had everything handled. Check in even with your high performers.
*When someone fails, don’t freak out at them. Take an attitude of inquiry and figure out what happened.
Here’s hoping that none of your direct reports or children bring you the kind of holiday gift I brought my parents a number of years back. And if they do, help them figure out what happened. Support them in getting back on track. Thanks Mom and Dad!