Face it, hiring can be a pain in the you-know-what. So, when it comes time…
John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
Sometimes you can encounter circumstances at work that just don’t add up. Maybe something is different than you thought it would be, or different than you were told it would be. That’s the time to try the “Colombo” approach.
“Colombo” was a 1970s TV police detective, played by Peter Falk, who successfully solved crimes by never assuming he knew the whole story. In fact, even if he thought he knew who did it, he kept an open mind while he asked questions aimed at uncovering the facts. You can do the same as you unravel the puzzle of the circumstances in front of you.
Your conversation (most likely with your boss) should always start with one or two compliments. Find something you can say about why you enjoy being there, what you are learning, how you are growing. Make them genuine. Your purpose is to make it clear that you’re not there to complain, just to better understand something that’s puzzling.
Lay out the “evidence” and ask if maybe you’ve missed something, or misunderstood. “I recall being told X, but Y actually happened. Perhaps I misinterpreted what I heard.” “I did A, and then B, expecting that C would be next. Did my expectations get off the track somehow?” You must do this with a genuine regard for the possibility that you misinterpreted something along the way. Any hint that you know you are right – and the other person is wrong – will automatically put the other person on the defensive and the conversation will quickly degenerate.
Listen carefully to the answers you are given. As often as not, there are other facts at play that you didn’t even know about. Both you and the boss will benefit from clearing the air. It could be that the boss was faced with a difficult choice. Knowing the rationale behind the choice may not make you any happier, but at least you will know how and why things are the way they are.
There may also be the rare occasion when the answers you get just don’t add up. You will see that more clearly, however, if your mind is not cluttered with assumptions to begin with.