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Building An Organization By Choice

As you'd expect, the behavior I require from my karate students in my classes is clear and fairly strict. Some kids take longer than others to get the message.

As you might not expect, the behavior I expect from the parents and family members is equally strict. Some parents take longer than others to figure it out.

Some never do. If a student cannot control a temper that could result in a physical injury or is a constant distraction, the student isn't allowed to participate. If a parent speaks profanity, tries to coach a student from the sidelines, initiates a conflict, or repeatedly badmouths people in the organization without seeking to resolve the problem, the parent is told to leave.

The first thing a parent in that position says is usually a variation of, "I'm paying for this! You don't have a right to tell me what to do." So I let them know I've already cancelled any future payment on their behalf. Second, I point out I have every right to require standards of behavior within my organization. Money doesn't buy indulgence of bad behavior.

It doesn't take more than one or two people to ruin a great dojo. Two parents, sitting in the viewing area, speaking not-so-quietly about how everything sucks. Profanity is used. A polite request from the staff doesn't change the parents' behavior. Addressing their concerns has no impact. And that's the point where I have a choice. I could choose to brush it off, hope it resolves itself somehow, and expect everyone else to either put up with it or pretend it doesn't exist.

But that choice results in the polite and civilized parents distancing themselves. Eventually, they'll stop wanting to be there while the student is in class. Then they'll pull their student from the school. That leaves me with an organization dominated by the sucky people. Indeed, those badly behaving parents are the ones who will determine what my organization will become.

Or I could choose to let the parent know the behavior won't be tolerated. I can tell them they must leave.

I will choose who I want to have in my organization and, in so choosing, I choose who will want to join my organization in the future.

This does, however, require I have the spine to make a decision and stand by it, and to deal with the fallout. One parent was furious I wouldn't refund months of past tuition after I cancelled his program. He tells everyone who will listen what a bitch I am. But here's the thing: people know what sort of person he is. Most don't give his complaints any weight. Those folks who do are not the people I want in my organization anyway.

My business is my organization, and my organization is my reputation. It isn't defined by what I say it should be. It's defined by what outsiders see. Why would I want that shadowed by including deliberately hurtful people?

Is it hard to kick someone out? Yep. Is it contentious and confrontational? Yep. Does it result in further conflict? For awhile, yes. Might I get it wrong sometime? Yes, and I accept the possibility of getting it wrong sometimes isn't a valid reason to accept being wrong all the time. But I don't think my passing discomfort is reason enough to let someone ruin my organization and take it from those who benefit from it.

Choose who to accept, choose who to send on their way. That makes organization-building an active choice rather than a passive hope manipulated by the people who behave as if they'd be much happier somewhere else anyway.

Edited to correct typos and poorly worded sentence. Sheesh.

See also:
Where the Boundaries Are Drawn


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
This post made me think. It can apply to so many areas of life.
Jul. 14th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
It does indeed.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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