Remember Ted Williams? No, not the famous baseball player, the other one. The homeless guy with the great voice.
Who can forget how he sky-rocketed to fame when a YouTube video of him displaying his talents went viral overnight?
Ever wonder what happened to him? Back when this happened in 2011, I hoped for the best, but I remember thinking that he would probably use the money to feed his habit of drugs and alcoholism and relapse back into being homeless.
Ted did fall off the wagon briefly, as many do on the road to recovery, but he does seem to have his life back in order. Since being plucked from obscurity, Ted has steady work with Kraft doing voice overs for macaroni and cheese commercials. He recently narrated a documentary.
And he's written a book, appropriately called A Golden Voice. He also started the Ted Williams Project—a foundation to give back to those in need.
Here is a quote from Mr. Williams in a recent Fox News report:
“I’m still in recovery. I am looking forward to taking God’s message and the message of redemption, hope and of second chances, addiction, mental health and homelessness,” Williams added. “The final transition of Ted Williams, the man with the God-given golden voice, I’m ready to spread the message that true redemption is all that he grants."
Given the uphill battle facing Ted and other recovering addicts, I’m not naïve enough to think that there won’t be setbacks, but that sounds like a man on the right path. He sounds like someone who has experienced grace.
When was the last time you experienced grace in a relationship? What about experiencing grace at work?
Go ahead, think about it. When did you mess up a process at work? Or miss your budget? Or make the wrong decision? Or get sideways in a human resources issue?
Most leaders know when they mess up. But let me let you in on a little secret . . . so do employees.
So why do they do it? Well, it's complicated, but the more I work with leaders and teams, and the more I research where these things go off the rails, it usually boils down to one of three areas.
(1) Employees that make mistakes feel like they don't matter. When employees feel like they don't matter, their motivation stinks. They feel small and that their contribution is insignificant. They don't offer opinions because nothing ever changes. Why stick your neck out if nobody notices or cares . . . until you make a mistake.
(2) Employees that make mistakes feel like they don't belong. Over time, this thinking manifests by creates the environment of "working for the man" or "the suits" or "us versus management." Employees believe they are on the outside looking in when it comes to knowing what is going on in the organization. They feel like a replaceable cog in the wheel. Discretionary effort--or going the extra mile--is out of the question.
(3) Employees that make mistakes feel like the work environment is unsafe. This culture is rife with fear. Trust throughout the organization is zero both horizontally and vertically. Risks are never taken because the repercussion is not worth it. Employees are so paralyzed they often make silly mistakes to avoid a bigger one.
Do you provide an environment like one of the three described above? Or do you provide grace? Before you send me nasty comments about how grace doesn't belong in business, hold on just a second. Without a doubt, there are times where grace isn't warranted, such as a breach in ethics, the law, or even company values. But let's go back to my original question: when is the last time you made a mistake at work?
Did you have to confess to a boss/leader who created an environment like #1 or #2 or #3 above? How did you feel when that meeting was scheduled? When you went into that meeting, were you ready to defend your position? Wanting to justify yourself? (Picture Donald Trump.)
Or did you experience the grace of a leader who sought learning instead of placing blame? Who worked with you to figure out what went wrong, not who went wrong? How did you feel then? Probably a lot like Ted Williams did when someone came alongside and supported him. (Picture somebody, anybody besides Donald Trump.)
Now here's the kicker. When you respond in the latter manner described, research shows that you show employees that they 1.) matter 2.) belong and are 3.) safe. In short, you motivate them. You grow them. You improve your greatest asset. And they, in turn, will go the extra mile for you. All it takes is a little grace.