Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't stop asking questions

One of my employees slipped into my cube white as a sheet

I glanced up.

He paused, took a breath, and from his back pocket pulled an 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper. He unfolded it with shaking hands and it fluttered gently as he held it up so I could read it.

I recognized it. "Yes?" I said.

He swallowed and asked, "Have I done something wrong?"

I burst into laughter.

He had been summoned by the human resource department to a standard, mandatory training session. Because he is a new employee he had no idea it was a standard class. Because he is an employee who desires to inform himself and set something right had something been perceived incorrectly he came to me to get more informationeven if it meant that he had committed a wrong.

His strained expression telegraphed he didn't understand. I apologized for laughing and explained the training is an ongoing class we rotate all the new employees into. It's designed to raise awareness when our actions offend someone else and provide guidelines and words for someone who has been offended to communicate that effectively.

His shoulders relaxed and he stuffed the paper back in his pocket. I thanked him profusely for broaching the question. He admitted he'd lost a bit of sleep over it.

No matter where we are in our careers if a question arises that causes us to lose sleep, worry or stress-out, we need to have the guts to push ourselves forward and put the question on the table. Tomorrow I'll check in and ask what he learned in the sexual harassment awareness training.

What's holding you back from asking your question?