My dad, bless him, turned 70 a couple of weeks ago.
He also turned into a grumpy old man overnight. Actually, that’s not quite true… he’s always been a bit grumpy but has been getting progressively worse over the past few years.
Oh, it’s nothing serious he complains about and he’s not motivated enough to do anything about it. Things like the government, NHS, council leaders, council workers, councils in general, the Scottish, the French, Italians, football players, football player’s haircuts, football players celebrating a goal… etc.
Coincidentally I was also approached by a client of mine who is suffering from the same issue. It’s not them that’s getting annoyed when someone sniffs in the wrong tone but one of their staff.
Things came to a head when a supplier, who was well known to everyone in the business, stuck her head into the staff room to say ‘hello’. She was having lunch with a couple of staff members and my client had set 5 places for lunch, although only 3 people were eating. So, she asked the administrator who organised the lunch, whether someone else was joining them.
The administrator said there wasn’t, she just didn’t know how many places to set, so she laid out a couple of extras…
At this point, the grumpy old man, looked up from his lunchbox (so to speak) and said ‘There were going to be 5, but they heard it was you who was coming, so didn’t bother to turn up…’
Fortunately the supplier was well used to this sort of thing and just laughed. My client secretly thought she was a bit jealous because she hadn’t thought up the line for herself.
Now, let’s be generous and say that he meant it as a joke, rather as anything deliberately nasty. In that case, is it a case of ‘no harm done’ or ‘we need to stamp this out’?
It’s really tricky, especially as the standard of behaviour is declining as time goes by. Someone was recently heard saying ‘My God, he gets worse!’
I really think my client has to address this situation, but mustn’t approach it from the point of view of ‘you a becoming a grumpy old man!’
The approach has to be much more subtle. My client has to unearth the underlying issues (if there are any) and help the guy with any problems. If there aren’t any issues, then his behaviour has to be addressed. This isn’t necessarily easy as specific examples of his behaviour have to be described, along with their effect and the consequences.
After this, the change in behaviour that’s required has to be agreed and the consequences of not changing outlined, along with a schedule to review.
Hmmm… quite a job!