ul·ti·ma·tum. A final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations.
I don't believe in ultimatums.
I'll put up with something until I can't put up with it any more, then just delete it from my life. No warnings and no regrets. That might brand me passive-aggressive, but I don't care.
As children, my siblings and I rarely got ultimatums. But there were definitely consequences for bad decisions. Usually swift and strong.
Before we learned the difference between consequences and ultimatums, we would say "I'm going to count to three. One...two...two-and-a-half...two-and-three-quarters..." Clever kids that we were, it didn't take long to learn that approach only worked if you actually got to "three!" and belted out the consequence.
There were some kids in the bakery the other day getting the same "One...two..." for their rowdy behavior. An idle threat. It didn't work on them either.
Fast forward to adulthood.
There are no ultimatums at the bakery, but there are consequences.
I hire adults, pay them adult wages, and expect adult behavior.
If an employee comes to work late too many times, I'm not gonna give him or her "one more chance." I'm gonna greet them one day with their final pay check.
Drug use? Even faster consequence.
Same with suppliers.
Suppliers are not children. A supplier is a company that you pay to deliver a product or service. If it fails to deliver too often, it's out. I have to suffer the consequences of my own bad decisions, but not those of my suppliers.
Some things can't be helped. I never hold an Act of God against an employee or a supplier. Ice storm close the road? I understand. Tornado warning? No problem.
I'll also give a supplier a chance to make things right. Send the wrong item but replace it before it becomes a problem and I'll never complain. If I bring an accounting error to your attention but you fix it, that's just fine in my book.
But don't make me do your work.
I have a supplier that frequently sends the wrong item. The salesman orders it correctly, but the warehouse picks the wrong item. I send it back, take it off the invoice, and pay the balance. It's inconvenient but that should be the end of it.
Unfortunately, the company's accounting software doesn't always credit me for the returned (and unpaid) items. Labeled "partial payment," the balance appears on my monthly statement, adding up to hundreds of dollars over several months. Then I had to return some items that I had already paid for. Now, in addition to just showing an incorrect balance, they owe ME money. I called it to their attention several times but got no resolution. Until they drop-shipped some items and sent me a statement that included the newly delivered items plus the uncredited returns. I refused to pay until they removed the charges for the returned items.
In their attempt to resolve the problem, they presented me with a spreadsheet that was supposed to explain all the debits and credits but was impossible to understand. Bear in mind that I have a graduate degree in finance, and worked as a business consultant for over 20 years before opening the bakery. The muck of numbers the accountant presented me with made no sense to my experienced eye, but he expected me to whip out my checkbook nevertheless.
So I spent several hours the other night reconciling an entire year's worth of weekly invoices.
There will be no ultimatums. Just consequences.