Make your bed before you leave home!

Why maintaining a good communication relationship with your staff is important for internal relationships and balance of power.


Take Home

Why maintaining a good communication relationship with your staff is important for internal relationships and balance of power.


Dianna E. Graves

Putting It In View By Dianna E. Graves, COMT, BS Ed

It always boggles my mind how childhood memories and lessons work their way into everyday life.

At a recent conference I attended, some managers were having a discussion about the following incident, and they asked how I would have handled it:

It appears one of the managers knew of a manager that had performed two to three employee reviews prior to going on a week vacation. These were all done on a Tuesday. The manager was leaving on Friday.

On Wednesday, one of the reviewed employees (Sara) refuted her review regarding the salary “bump” she was receiving. She had refused to sign the review at the time because she wanted to think about it first. But the next day she showed up to see the manager during her lunch break.

Before the story continued, my “red warning flags” started waving.

The manager stated to the employee that the review stood, as did the proposed salary increase. While the review lauded the employee for her conscientious work in her high stress level area, the increase stood as it was presented.

On Thursday, Sara’s co-worker, Jill, approached the manager to say that Sara was thinking of leaving-and if Sara left, then Jill was leaving, too. Jill had not had a review, but was supporting her team worker whom she felt was irreplaceable.

On Friday, the manager left for vacation without “making the bed.”



Importance of ‘making the bed’

Maybe it’s an east coast-growing-up tradition, but we were never allowed to leave the house without taking a shower and “making the bed.” The shower was aimed at my brother.

Now, making my bed was a drawn-out affair. Dad was a Marine and mom a registered nurse. Bed making was something they were experts in.

They would buy 100-year-old antique, intricate-patterned antique bedspreads at auctions. Simply tossing the bedspread on the bed would never do. The pattern needed to line up in a given way.

Inevitably, one of us would haphazardly throw it on the bed and head out the door, unaware that when we got home, the fun would begin. You learned the hard way that a simple task, such as making the bed, was easy compared to the repercussions waiting.

The story continued.

No sooner did the manager leave the state on their trip, Sara went to the administrator of the group. The next day, Jill also went to share her feelings.

I didn’t need to hear more. I started getting angry with the manager because no matter what administration did from here on in, they had erred miserably and sent a horrific message to the staff.

The tale of woe finished. The group sat forward and said: “What would you have done when you came back?”




A number of comments flowed out of me:

1.              Comment 1: “I would kill them for going to the administrator.”

I would be extremely unhappy that they went over my head to my boss. Make no mistake, if you have poor lines of communication with your staff (if they bring issues to you and you disregard them by not returning their calls) they will go over or around you. You literally pushed them to it.

Do not ever put yourself in the situation to be end arounded. It’s a beautiful football play if it works, but devastating if it happens to you.

2.              Comment 2: “Okay…so it happened. What can you do for damage control?”

Not much-except to probably apologize for the poor communication and try very hard to re-establish the balance of power.

After they made their demands to the administrator, the administrator had to go in a direction the manager did not want to see: both staff members received an increase in their salary

It’s not the money that is at issue with me. It’s the inadvertent transfer of power, from the manager to the staff, that put them in a power position. On any future decisions, if they didn’t like the result, they would probably try another end around. Bad message to send.

3.              Comment 3:

“Don’t be mad at the administrator-you showed your boss and the staff that you are a poor communicator and manager of people.”

There’s no one to be mad at but yourself. You knew you had a powder keg going-yet left without warning the administrator, and gave the staff no resolution or promise of re-discussion.

4.              Comment 4: “You left the house without making the bed!”



If any of this has ever happened to you in any form, you need to do the following self-assessment:

1.              Re-assess your communication skills: Stop telling people you are available by e-mail or cell phone if you never answer them.

2.              Re-assess how you deal with conflict resolution: Especially with your staff. You never want the staff to be holding the Ace of Spades as the trump card in any interaction.

3.              Make sure you have a good communication and a good working relationship with the administrator: so if this were to happen again, your boss has your back because he or she knows you and your management style.

4.              Expect the unexpected: Yes, I had someone go to my boss once asking them to reverse a decision I made. My administrator sent them back to me. The technician tattled on themselves as I was calling them back. I told them that if they ever did that again-they would be fired. What was it that the technician went over my head about? Wearing a team baseball shirt to clinic for opening day. Nothing of significance-except to them.

Lastly, the most important thing to review:

Pull the bedspread all the way to the foot of the bed. Follow the line of the pattern up one side of the bed, and then finish doing the same on the other side. Smooth the wrinkles.

It makes for a quieter life when you return home.


Dianna E. Graves, COMT, BS Ed


Dianna Graves is clinical services manager at St. Paul Eye Clinic PA, in Woodbury, MN. Graves is a graduate of the School of Ophthalmic Medical Technology, St. Paul, MN, and has been a member of its teaching faculty since 1983.



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