In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is there a "Kindness Balance"?

I've been thinking about this for a while.

Inge's post Cruel to be Kind got my thoughts going in this direction. Then yesterday I read the following words from Ogilvie:

"Kindness is the steadfast love of the Lord in action toward those who fail".

What a powerful statement! I can't even begin to express my gratitude for God's kindness toward me; I've failed miserably and repeatedly (and in things that matter).

But even as I read those words yesterday morning during my quiet time with God, I had in the back of my mind a problem situation with 3 employees, two of which I feel are trying to play me. One of which I'm beginning to think has been leaving work while still on the clock. This is a huge problem for more than the obvious reasons. I run small homes in the community where severely disabled adults live and we only staff 2 or 3 employees with the 6 individuals who reside in the home. So one staff less can mean safety issues (not to mention the fact that we have a regulatory requirement of 1 staff for every three individuals). Plus, due to the nature of the situation, I really have to be able to trust the staff. It's my responsibility to make sure the individuals who live in our homes are well cared for and enjoy a good environment.

So I found myself asking that age old question - how can I be kind, yet still hold people accountable for their actions and implement consequences?

I don't know a single parent who hasn't struggled with this same issue at some point or another. It's the idea of always wanting to be kind, yet needing to be effective. I frequently find that balance a challenge to achieve. I've always tried to establish a system for both employees and my sons where the boundaries are clear. The boundaries in terms of expectations as well as what is unacceptable. Then have consequences to unacceptable choices clearly delineated from the start.

But life just isn't always so cut and dried. In fact, I've always been annoyed by those "perfect parents" who seem to claim that it is. Life is full of gray.

Guess that's where my need of Christ and His discernment comes in. Repeatedly I have to call out to Him for wisdom in how to handle specific situations.

What about you, do you ever struggle with implementing the balance between kindness and justice?


Tony C said...

I couldn't help but chuckle a little at your post Tracy because it reminded me of something I was told some years back. Quick story:

I had the unfortunate task of firing a lady for sleeping on the job. Without a doubt, letting people go was the worst part of my job, and I insisted that my middle-managers have their documentation in line or I refused to pull the trigger on a termination. Granted sleeping on the job should be pretty cut and dry, but consistency is a key in my opinion.

The lady came to my office for the task with her department supervisor. Fireworks were expected because she had already been defiant and vocal. Without going into details, she walked out of my office 15 minutes later AFTER shaking my hand and thanking me for the opportunity to be heard. Still scene made.

The department manager looked at me and shaking his head said that in all of his years of managing, he had never witnesses someone thank the boss for letting them go.

I believe the critical part is compassion. Never take pleasure in carrying out the necessary consequences (when in authority to do so) due to of someone else's actions. I believe you are a very compassionate person that has an unfortunate job to do...due to no fault of your own.

Good luck!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

In a work situation, such as you describe, the issue is more than just balancing kindness with justice. It is also a question of responsibility. Your responsibility as a manager towards your employer, the clients who live in these care homes, your staff and, of course, responsibility towards yourself.

Should something go wrong whilst one of your staff is absent then you, the employee in question, and the organisation will be held responsible.

If you suspect someone is leaving early you have a duty to let them know that they could be held personally responsible in Court should something go wrong. And you will no longer tolerate such behaviour.

Not kind perhaps, but certainly just and essential for all concerned.

Best wishes and God bless.

Being Me said...

I was in this position before once upon a time. I had to lay off employees in my department at different times.
It is hard, but when the cause is justified and chances and warnings have been given, it is about fair play for both sides.

Maintaining a fine line between ranks is something that has to be done to establish and maintain order as much as relationships are important for a balanced work life too.


RCUBEs said...

Reminds me of work sister Tracy. How supervisors are so watchful with those leaving work early, even 10 minutes before time. Understandable. But how about them? They are scheduled to work 12 hours but leave so early and come to work so late, one day, I was counting, one worked only a total of 6 hours when she was scheduled to work 12hours. It's hard to understand their policies when they are the ones breaking them, too.

I always ask for the Lord's discernment knowing that His ways and thoughts are truly higher than ours. God bless.

Tracy said...

Tony - How awesome is it that God's spirit gave you (and continues to I'm sure) the ability to hold someone accountable in such a respectful, caring, manner that she even thanked you! That's definitely God and definitely you letting Him work through you - way to go brother!

Victor - I agree! Also, because I'm passionate about my work I always want to make sure that I take a step back, do not respond from emotions, and act wisely. Keep the balance of justice, and prudence, yet kindness and even mercy when possible and appropriate. Surly an opportunity to rely on God for wisdom and discernment since I certainly am not smart enough!

Being Me - I remember reading in a book, "First break all the rules", that surveys show that almost all managers have trouble sleeping the night before they fire someone. I sure know that I've only fired someone when I felt that I must, and I still hated it. (Once I had to fire this single mom and after the fact I sent her a note where I specifically stated that this was from me as a person, not my job capacity, and gave her a hundred dollars grocery coupons because I felt bad and felt God leading me to do that). I pray that God would keep my heart tender because I never want to forget the affects that my actions have on others.

Rcubes - That's the very thing that causes people to have no respect for managers. I have one line manager who currently works for me that has her strengths, but she doesn't pitch in and work a lot, and I'm trying to help her learn that she'll gain so much more respect and be more effective if her staff actually see her doing the same tasks she's asking them to do (obviously I don't think that's true for all managers but she's a line supervisor so she really should be doing some of these tasks, her management duties aren't that many). There's an old saying that you hear in management circles that goes like this - You have to be what you want to see. BTW - I continue to pray for your work situation.

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