If you become a people manager, please know that providing instructions can sometimes backfire.
With some employees, I must be as detailed as possible when providing instructions, otherwise a task or behaviour will go completely awry. One of my favourite examples comes from the first employee I posted about in this blog, Julie.
Julie had a habit of wearing inappropriate things to work. Sometimes her outfits were jaw-droppingly awful. Others just needed minor tweaks. One day Julie’s bra straps appeared prominently as part of her ensemble. Another team leader pulled Julie aside and told her she needed to do something about her bra straps.
Julie said ok and quickly went off to the bathroom. She came back without her bra. Just took it off, so the straps couldn’t stick out.
Did I mention she was wearing a skin-hugging, white shirt? And that she was incredibly endowed, thanks to some cosmetic enhancements purchased by her boyfriend?
“Do something about your bra straps” was not enough direction. With an employee like Julie, we should have told her to push the straps under her shirt or pull her shirt back over the straps. “Do something” was just asking for trouble.
You might be thinking to yourself, ‘Do I really need to baby my employees that much?’ The answer is yes. Sometimes.
I hope you don’t run across too many Julies in your career. I promise, there are frontline employees capable of rational thought. They just didn’t work in my call centre.