Tip #928: When You Have to Scrape the Egg Off of Your Face

“Everyone has embarrassing moments at work-it shows we’re all human. The best way to handle awkward moments is to gracefully move on, and, if possible, try to find the humor in the situation.” Diane Domeyer

I thought I had a clever way to make a point in a time management class for new supervisors.

I referenced a legend that the first step in a World War II Navy fighter pilot’s emergency response process was to wind a watch embedded in the steering column. The split second it took to wind the watch was supposed to help the pilot clear his head of distractions and focus on the situation.

A participant said it was more likely that fighter pilots would be trained to immediately respond to a crisis, without having to take a moment to think about it. That made sense to all of us.

I ended that discussion by saying that the message we should take from this legend, true or not, is that supervisors should stop and think about a decision to make sure that it would be the best use of their time.

Now, here is the egg-on-the-face part. During the break, the fellow told me that he is a Medevac pilot who served in Afghanistan and now flies one of those Black Hawk 13-person helicopters for the National Guard. He said that he was trained to automatically respond to possible crises, and that no watches were embedded in his steering column. Needless to say, I felt pretty embarrassed.

We discussed the fact that people trained to make decisions in emergencies are drilled over and over again until they can act without stopping to make a conscious decision- because any moment that they delay can result in disaster or death.

He said that supervisors should behave in the same way, but later conceded that most supervisory tasks did not require an automatic emergency response.

That concession scraped some of the egg off of my face. We agreed that it made sense for supervisors to assume control by taking a moment to choose how to act, rather than react, to situations.

I still like the idea of using the image of the fighter pilot taking a moment to wind a watch. However, I’ll emphasize that, although this is only a legend, it still has an important message. I’d like to avoid another egg-on-face situation!

Has this ever happened to you- and if so, how did you manage to extricate yourself?

#timemanagement #embarrassingmoments #LaurelandAssociatesLTD

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