“Fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice, strike three!”—Michael Scott from The Office
Have you ever had an employee repeatedly make a mistake, even after it was brought to that person’s attention? If so, you might have assumed the person was deliberately trying to sabotage you.
John Reh, a management expert from About.com, cautions managers from jumping to conclusions using one of his favourite quotes: “Never ascribe to malice what should be attributed to stupidity.”
While “stupidity” may seem a bit harsh, the message is still pretty clear. Even if seems like your employee is purposely doing things to your detriment, there’s always the possibility that person isn’t aware others are being affected.
Reh points out that it is natural for a manager to personalize the behavior as an initial response, but the most telling thing about that manager is how he or she ends up handling the mistake.
So the next time it seems like an employee is continually trying to make your life difficult, don’t give in to your first impulse. Instead, take the time to consider the possibility that the person simply doesn’t know any better. By not taking the behavior personally, you will give yourself a better chance of getting an upper hand in the situation rather than making it worse.