What to say to coworkers who play the hero (video transcript)

Do you know someone who’s made a name for themselves by always coming to the rescue? Usually that person is actually part of the problem, not the solution. But while everyone is celebrating and patting them on the back for their heroics, it’s hard to call out the problem. Here are the right words to say to the hero.

First, acknowledge the contribution. “Thank you very much for jumping in to save the day. Your ability and willingness to come in on your wedding day to keep the train on the rails was a lifesaver”.

But what you say next is really important: “I want to make it clear that if it happens again, I’ll take it as a sign you failed to learn and build the capability of your team to prevent these types of emergencies from happening in the first place.”

Both halves of this message are critical. First, you need to recognize the effort. It’s incredibly demoralizing for someone who does something heroic, like coming in on their wedding day to get your server restarted, to be chastised for what they thought was helping. You need to say, thank you, at least to meet the hero where they are in their own mind.

But second, you need to make it clear that heroic behavior isn’t acceptable. You need to unequivocally discourage heroic behavior in the future, and make it clear that it’s one’s responsibility to make changes and build capacity to avoid having another crisis.

Those are the right words to say when someone plays the hero.

More on this

Stop Rewarding Arsonists for Putting Out Fires

What your team can learn from the Crisis Junkies in Congress

Thank goodness for a crisis