There are those who know how to speak to and work with people…and there are those who simply do not. Just because someone is terrific at doing their job, does not mean they are a good trainer.

My late father always said, “Those who can, do; and those who can’t…teach.” It wasn’t his saying, so he only gets credit for having said it to me a thousand times, but it stuck with me. He was also famous for another stolen tidbit, “Early is on time; on time is late; and late is fired.” He said that to me every. single. day.

I may be biased, but my father, was a great man. He was super intelligent, adept, and extremely charismatic. He knew his stuff. He was confident, almost to the point of arrogance, and did not hesitate to tell you about his abilities. The thing is, he was not blowing smoke. He was correct – he was really, really good! He would even go so far as to claim to be the best. This is what got him to some of the high level of accomplishments that he attained. This would not in the real world, mean that he necessarily worked well with others – though he did, but he always made sure that new employees in his field were not made to feel ignorant even if they for all intents and purposes were, he still minded his mouth. Let me explain.

Al Washington was not a patient man. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, he was probably the most impatient person I ever knew. His mind was about 30 steps beyond the average persons, and he needed it to be when he was a Frogman in the US Navy, a State Trooper, and eventually a top level officer at Aetna Insurance. He was a natural born leader who managed people from his days in the Navy all the way to this point, and he said his most important methods in doing so was to listen, watch and learn from his subordinates. He was not in the position to berate them and belittle them, which managers often do. He knew that there was a learning curve, and that everyone learns differently. And as long as he felt that they were trying and were in the game 100%, he gave them the space to approach him with questions at any time with an ‘open door’ policy. His idea was the notion that when you build people up, help them gain confidence in themselves with praise on even the smallest things, act as a leader and inspire; and ultimately thank them each day and the close of business for their work. His employees loved him. He was a hard-ass, don’t get me wrong. Perfection was his middle name, but he developed a team by giving respect. That’s the key.

We forget, when we are well seasoned at what it is that we do for a living – people who are new to our line of work are NOT. People are not born knowing the ins and outs of any job. They need time to observe, learn, ask questions, and make mistakes. Yes, mistakes. We all make them. Especially newbies. We have to plan for those mistakes. We have to encourage folks through the mistakes, and sure, we expect them to take responsibility, but we aren’t in the business to point fingers and make them feel like idiots.

Just because a manager made it to the top because they are excellent at what they do, does not at all mean they are equipped to teach others. We have to read our people. Some managers know WHAT to do but can’t explain how or WHY they are doing it. Some simply have no personable side to them, and are better behind the scenes. Some have no filter. Some have no patience. As the business owner or leader, it is imperative that you know this.

I witnessed my manager aggressively barking at a new employee with a barrage of questions in their first month of training: “Why is this like this? Who did this? Why did you do this THIS way? Why is this HERE?” How do you think that is received? It is demoralizing. It encourages them to shrink down and wither, and will never give anyone inspiration to learn more and do more. The poor girl just sat there wide-eyed, speechless, and apologizing all over herself when all it was that she was trying to take initiative on a project and made one tiny mistake. She meant well. But afterward, with tears in her eyes, she stated to me in confidence, “I can’t put up with that. I would never talk to my superior that way – how does she feel it is ok to speak to an employee in this manner and tone?” I just smiled and thought this blog up right then. But really, there was no answer other than this manager should not. be. training.

Minding our mouths as managers is important. Our mouths and tactics are the defining line of whether we get long-lasting, happy and valued employees who represent your company and generate your client base and bottom line; or disgruntled, lazy workers, showing up for a paycheck because the environment stinks. How often are you spending your hard earned money firing and hiring folks? It DOES cost money. If we just manage the right way, the rest is cake.

Mind your mouth!


  • Jill Burrus

    Here to create better management & employee relationships with thriving business as a result

    As a long time business professional, I have been on both sides of the fence. I've been the employee many times, and I've been the manager more often. Though I still answer to my own manager, as a trainer, developer and leader, I have often wondered where the disconnect formed between most employees and their management. Years of experience has led me to see that not all trainers and managers are meant to deal with people. Yet, they are still put in positions to do so. This leads to miserable parties on both sides, and a business that suffers. I'm tired of that. I want to see all parties succeed, and businesses thrive. Enter, S.H.E. Professional Development. Here to create better management and employee relationships. I am a married mom to two beautiful girls in South Carolina, with a passion for writing, empowering people, seeing folks succeed. I am an artist on the side, write children's poems that I am in the process of publishing, and an avid learner of foreign languages. *Fluent in snark, sarcasm and other sometimes undesirable behavior!