Opinion

Published

Latest drama on The Apprentice shows some just can’t accept criticism at work

5 Mins

But while other contestants may have appeared amazed, have we not all employed people who when faced with the reality that their performance may not be good enough chose to block the reality in some way?
 
Saunders is quoted as saying: “I didn’t want the investment from Lord Sugar. I don’t think we wanted to work together and it was clear on both sides.” Come on, who is he kidding! He wanted to work with Lord Sugar or he wouldn’t have been there in the first place. 

Hopkins might have used the programme as a route to becoming a celebrity of sorts, but let’s not kid ourselves that Saunders has that same personality. Only by saying he did not want the prize could he block the introspection of his own suitability. Classic, knee jerk re-action – and I doubt if any of us are fooled. 
 
Selina Waterman-Smith’s tantrums, based on the belief she became unloved in the process by contestants and Lord Sugar alike, saw her took venomously to disdaining the programme and breaking her contract to appear on the spin off You’re Fired. It was another case of refusing introspection, instead blocking reality and bad mouthing the prize to prevent the hurt that any genuine introspection might bring.  

It is no different from having someone in the office and breaking the news of a less than perfect performance to have them stand up and throw a tantrum going “don’t want your job anyway”, prior to you being anywhere near actually parting company with them. It is less unusual than the other contestants seem to think.

The Apprentice: The most successful recruits to have worked with Alan Sugar

Facing up to the reality of our short-comings is never easy for anyone. A resignation (a more controlled version of the tantrum above) can equally follow any serious conversation about shortcomings. Some do it as a rejection of reality, and some more as a way of showing honestly that they have no intention (or perhaps ability) to improve.
 
Then there are the victims – those who pay less attention to the actual critique but more on their performance, sitting in your office shaking their head and rubbing their hands and propounding about how much they have let you down.  

Don’t be too fooled. Nine times out of ten this is another deflection – an inability to look at the truth and a plea to make it better with absolution and a cuddle. But if they can’t hear the message, don’t expect them to change either.
 
Then there are the shouters – an occasional idiot has come close to trying this in the boardroom – those who are so outraged by the suggestion of their shortcomings they hope to shout it out, winning the argument by volume alone. 

But there is no time (or inclination) to look at themselves and, when their arguments fail, this group more often than not start mis-quoting their legal rights at you. Occasionally, they get violent. I have had the odd thing sail pass my head in my time on the shop floor. 
 
The reality of the employer-employee relationship is, of course, that some are suited to each other and some are not. Saunders’ argument seems to have been trying for that, but fell unconvincingly short in some many ways.  Lord Sugar’s personality and ways are very public – the process had been documented for years. Unlike the odd error employers/employees make, Saunders had a very good idea what he was getting into.
 
Of course, in current times we are taught much about the proverbial sandwich of good, bad, good news. The positive outweighing the negative. For Lord Sugar, his comments on Saunders were pretty mild.

Sometimes we can be as pink and fluffy as the softest HR advice, but you will still get people who are simply not secure in themselves enough to take an honest look at the reality. You will still have employees who rather run a mile than allow themselves to really hear and examine any shortcoming. It takes a balanced, secure individual – and sadly, these are not in great supply.

Six of the more humorous tasks given to The Apprentice candidates

Share this story

Yahoo! is set to weigh up whether it should sell its core business
30 Digital Champions: The shoe brand getting orders from global musicians and royalty
Send this to a friend