Have you ever heard the statement “they set me up to fail”? What is that all about? Where did that term come from, and why would someone do that to begin with?

I actually heard this term twice this week. If someone sets you up to fail, then there are a few things going on. In life, we are constantly judged for everything we do. We go to school and we are judged on how we do, the marks we get. Some people do better than others. We leave school and we are constantly judged for the jobs we choose, the path we take, our performance, our personality, where we go and what we do, and a whole lot of other things.

When we are at work, we have a list of things that we are responsible for as an employee. When we don’t meet those expectations of the people we work for, it is typically blamed on the employee as being their fault and/or their responsibility. The manager typically doesn’t take responsibility for anything that the employee does. Not to say that what happens is not the fault of the employee. There are a number of factors at play there. So it becomes the blame shame game on the employee.

With most people, when they aren’t measuring up to expectations and are being blamed for something, and then shamed for it, they will either become very quiet and retreat within themselves, or they will explode on their managers. This can cause a lot of anxiety and stress for everyone and obviously doesn’t usually end well.

The people who go inward, you will often find them pull away, go out on stress leave, and/or eventually leave the company. The people that explode tend to get angry and say a lot of things that can’t be reversed. They will threaten things such as quitting or telling their employer just what they think about them. This situation can go from bad to worse very quickly.

The “Set Up To Fail” statement is actually a real thing. Heres how it may happen. In the beginning it starts out on a good note with everyone getting along and having a mutual respect for each other. Then at some point the employee misses a delivery or deadline, maybe has an accident, or doesn’t do what they are suppose to do. In reaction to these events, the manager wants to know whats going on. The result may be that the employee is now being more heavily supervised or monitored, and/or asked to do something to keep the event from happening again, such as extra training or restrictions being put in place.

Because of this, the employee begins to withdraw, suspecting lack of confidence in their ability from their manager. They may even resort to ignoring instructions, or lashing out by disputing those instructions. Loosing interest in what the manager is saying. The employee then tends to physically perform their job, but are not emotionally or mentally engaging in it. The employee may start to avoid the said manager altogether.

When this happens the manager tends to get frustrated and feels the employee cannot perform their duties without supervision, and is made well known by words and actions which further undermines the confidence of the employee. Once this takes place, the manager further controls and pressures the employee resulting in the employee leaving their job. No one wants this to happen within their company. In this day and age, we have to take a different approach.

Imagine calling someone into your office and shaming them for an event. Instead ask them how they are doing, and what happened with the said event. Start off by praising them for what they did right. You may be surprised to learn there were other factors that contributed to the event. How do you think that kind of conversation would go? You will probably have a much better result in the end.

I don’t think anyone purposely starts out trying to set someone up to fail. This is very common today, and can be one of the reasons why driver retention could be a problem. Culture starts at the top and if it’s not communicated to the end user, this kind of thing can get out of control very quickly.

So the next time you have to deal with someone about an event, think about what you want the outcome to be before you have that chat. Lead by example, be respectful, and believe in your people, after all, they are your driving force. It just might mean the difference between keeping your employee verses loosing one.

Our blog sponsor today is Pace Wellness, by Evelena Beaton. A registered dietitian. My practice, PACE Wellness, supports clients on their wellness journey no matter their pace or age with a special focus on mindful eating. Being focused on education and the foundations of food & nutrition make you better equipped to make more mindful, healthier choices. if you would like to know more about Pace Wellness, visit themindfultrucker.com

Dana G. Smith, CC

Dana G Smith CC is a Certified Relationship Coach/Consultant and co-creator of The Mindful Trucker, helping companies and professional drivers with better Health, Safety, Wellness & Driver Solutions.