Paint Covers a Multitude of Sins

“Paint covers a multitude of sins” is a phrase which applies especially to relationships. Every relationship between two people is just like a bank account. Deposits improve the relationship, while withdrawals weaken it. (I have no idea where I first heard this, and I’m too efficient to look it up now.)

If relationships with your underlings are like bank accounts and you are their boss, then your leadership ability determines how much you can withdraw from that account before it collapses. That includes overdrawing the account and borrowing against it.

Fortunately, I’m an awesome leader, and thus I have earned the right to expect extreme loyalty and commitment to frustrating projects by borrowing on the equity of my awesomeness.

You can keep relationships overdrawn for decades, as long as you add a little paint here and there. Paint covers a multitude of sins, but instead of sins, let’s call them relationship loans instead. It’s not hard to keep these accounts going the same way it’s easy to stay in debt by just making the minimum payments. This is where the “paint” comes in.

By paint, I am referring to grand gestures of gifts and appreciation, of course. You know, big deposits into relationship bank accounts.

Examples of Generous Deposits

  • “Attaboy!” (That’s literally all you need to say.)
  • A random pat on the back while an underling is crying in frustration
  • Generic emails to the whole company (Easy! Set a quarterly reminder to mass email everyone.)
  • A gift card to a nice restaurant after monotonous travel on a pointless project for three months

So there you have it. It’s easy enough to make withdrawals from your relationship bank accounts — by having employees work weekends or endure non-stop travel for three months — as long as you paint over it later. And a little paint goes a long way, as I have found!

W. Albert Jameson, IV

On the other hand…
Relationships really are like bank accounts, but overdrawn relationships fade fast. If we withdraw from people without depositing regularly, we will bankrupt relationships and burn bridges emotionally. Your team members will follow you into battle only if you have earned their loyalty first.

Build up your accounts with each team member any number of ways. Be proactively grateful, gracious, specific, and most of all sincere!

  • eouw0o83hf

    Jameson: when you hire a new person, does their bank account start at 0 or 100%? This is important to know, as I have new hires coming on soon and I need to know whether I can drain existing funds immediately or if I must begin the paint process post-haste.

    • Great question! If there is a balance in the relationship bank account, it’s yours to use no questions asked!

      Borrowing from a new hire’s account, though, requires equity. Since they joined the company to work for you, equity depends on your level of leaderness.

      For example: I am an excellent leader, so I may borrow from a new hire’s account immediately. Thus, I can assign the big, long-overdue project he doesn’t understand as long as I stop by his cube to say how valuable he is to the company. I won’t mention we hired him after we realized the project was overdue. This is purely hypothetical, of course.

  • Harry Reid

    Is Jameson a Senator? If not, he should be!