image Once upon a time, K.Lo mistook the Monk Bobblehead that sits on The Manager’s Desk for a small version of our CEO. Today, I wondered if the mind of Monk has perhaps overtaken my employee. Monk, in his quirky, lovable way, is extraordinarily OCD. He drinks a special kind of bottled water, he requires wipes after shaking hands or touching anything remotely germy. He is most demanding of his assistant, Natalie Teeger, verging on meltdown if she does not help to make his environment just so. Monk is a lot like a two-year employee.

Or, is the two-year employee like Monk.

All I know is, Management seems to spend quite a bit of time assisting the employee with Natalie Teeger-like tasks. Flicking infinitesimal specks off of food before it can be eaten. Pouring just a little bit more juice into the cup, increasing the ratio of juice to water so it tastes like juice, not water. Because the employee does not like water. Little stuff like this all.day.long., with Management’s failure to comply quickly escalating into a full-on employee strike.

image On the one hand, I wish to acknowledge K.Lo’s experience: if something’s bothering her to the point of a meltdown, of course it matters, and as a good Manager, I want to console her and make it right. On the other hand, I want my employee to be adaptable, able to roll with the punches. Because after 18 years with the company, the employee gets pushed out of the nest, and the next level of employment will certainly not be so accommodating. Of course, Management chooses its battles as wisely as possible. But at the end of the work day filled with battles, I am not nearly so upbeat and good-humored as Natalie Teeger. I wonder why so many seemingly tiny issues have to be blown up so large.

Whatever the issue, K.Lo’s world comes screeching to a halt until it is addressed by Management. She cannot and will not be distracted. So, where is the balance between ignoring seemingly trivial employee demands and giving in to the point where it eventually creates the next Monk?

Consider the Suggestion Box wide open.

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10 peanuts:
  1. ~sarah says:

    just wait until she's been with the company 15 years! oh boy!

    in my preschool teaching days, i found encouraging the kids to do things for themselves (like flicking off the speck on the food) helps a ton. make a big deal about how cool they are if they do it themselves like a big person. the stuff they can't do themselves... well, honestly, i'm a tough love kind of teacher. i usually said no to the more silly of the demands, especially if they were DEMANDS. but to counter a meltdown, immediately offer a choice, like "you need to drink the juice mommy made, but would you like to help make the next batch so it's just the way you like it?" or "would you like to pick a fun straw to drink the juice with." at first the kids may see if a meltdown will still get them what they want, but stick to your cheery, alternate-option-giving self and they quickly learn it won't work. distractions distractions. that was the key. at least in a class full of rambunctious 4 year-olds. : )

  1. penelope says:

    Most excellent and sage advice--thank you! K.Lo is a tough case, being none too easily distracted, and now even ANTICIPATES that you are attempting to distract, which can lead to an even bigger fit? Terribly crafty. However, I will try option-giving and autonomy-encouraging wherever possible. I need to concentrate on the cheery aspect especially. It's exhausting, I must say!

  1. Andria says:

    Excellent advice. It's so hard to know, because each child is so different. Dellaina has her moments of telling me "not too much" or (in a panic) "that's too much!" in regards to water in a cup, etc. But, she usually takes it upon herself to correct the problem, in most cases - dumping the water out (just have to get over the waste sometimes) and refilling it just so. I definitely agree that trying to get her to do her own dirty (or cleaning?) work as much as possible is an excellent approach. With your involvement, there comes a point when you just have to be firm "that's the way it is." And once you go there, stay there, despite meltdowns. . eventually, she'll get the idea? Options are a good way to give them some control, but you are limiting or dictating the options and ultimately in control.

    Distractions and the like are tricky, because as you knowingly pointed out, you don't want to completely dismiss her concerns as trivial and 2 year old employees have quite this stubborn, repetitive existence that doesn't get distracted as easily as one might think! If a meltdown does ensue, that's when I try distraction techniques - anything to get them to laugh, much like you once pointed out making faces or flipping upside down. Saying something off the wall or bringing in the New Hire to the situation can break the ice and bring things back into perspective. It's easier to "negotiate" or talk things out when they are more calm and rational. Good luck!

  1. penelope says:

    Also excellent thoughts. Thanks, guys!

  1. i like the options idea... but i'm just gut level that's the way it is. are meltdowns ok and isn't that what earplugs are for. dr.phil would say the child is escalating in order to see how far she can test you before you comply...

    sincerely,
    a novice.

  1. penelope says:

    Ooo, channeling Dr. Phil. I like it. Novice comments are always appreciated, and your words are so true.

  1. Kurt says:

    I knew a teenage boy who only ate toast. White bread toast. The compromise his parents made was they said he had to take vitamins. My thought is: don't let it get that bad.

    Some thoughts: Never threaten a consequence you aren't willing to do, and ALWAYS follow through on what you threaten. Otherwise, you become a known giver-inner.

    As a teacher, I'm not as emotionally invested in the kids as the parents, so though I feel for the kids when they have a meltdown, I don't feel for them enough to give in. You can't give in because of a tantrum, or the result will be: more tantrums. You CAN find compromises that don't seem like giving in, as suggested above.

    Kids will do what gets them the results they want. Respond quickly and positively to appropriate behavior to encourage it. ("Can I please have more juice?" "Yes, you may!") Clearly define inappropriate behavior, and have consequences for it that you stick to.

  1. penelope says:

    Fantastically smart. Thank you, Kurt.

  1. Kurt says:

    More: When you feel bad for them, remember that children WANT to be in control, and they are happier when you've helped them to behave better.

  1. Megan says:

    Wow, such good suggestions, all around! I don't have much for you since I didn't have to deal with meltdowns very much, if ever. I am the meanest of mommies, however, and apparently very very lucky!

    Monk still makes me laugh, though!