Could you be an escapologist? The dictionary definition of escapologist is "one who practices eluding restraints or traps." You may remember Harry Houdini; he was perhaps the greatest known escapologist in history. However, that is not the type of escapology I am talking about.
David Freemantle, author of 80 Things You Must Do To Be a Great Boss, describes an escapologist as:
"A manager that escapes facing up to difficult people and honestly expressing their views to them. They prefer to moan about them behind their backs or send hints in a prickly memo. Facing up to people and eyeballing them on a perceived deficiency is one of the most difficult tasks for any boss."
Are you an escapologist when it comes to managing? Do you find yourself avoiding the responsibility of speaking to a problematic employee face to face? Maybe you think ignoring the problem might make it go away, but will it?
I know I've been guilty of this more than once. The problem usually arises with employees who are somewhat difficult to deal with. You know the type. Perhaps taking the time to talk to them could turn into longer sessions than you would like, or maybe they have a tendency to be very sensitive about criticism.
At times like these, escapology seems like an easy option, but it certainly won't solve the problem. So what can you do? How can you approach an employee that needs
your help, and have a productive conversation face to face?
Below are some points to consider that might help you escape from being an escapologist.
• Consider what your motive is in speaking to this employee. Are you really trying to help correct a problem or do you just want to bring them down a peg or two?
• Have empathy. Try to imagine yourself in their situation. It might not be as easy as it seems.
• Be truthful with yourself. Sometimes problems we perceive as being caused by other people are really problems we ourselves have created. Does the employee have the problem or do you? Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and honestly come to grips with what you see.