No matter the culture or how long someone has worked for you. There will come a time when you need to “counsel” an employee. This could be due to performance, attitude, or a particular situation. Honestly, no one likes this part of being a manager. In our minds, all employees should be perfect at all time, unfortunately, we are human so regardless of good we are – we will make a mistake.
This can be in the form of a letting a person know how they are being perceived, a reminder of policies or something needs to change. I know that is very broad, the technique is the same for all these situations.
Once you know what needs to corrected (again, performance, attitude or error) it’s time to talk to the person. The reason most people don’t like this part is because we have a tendency to create a scenario in our heads of what will happen. I will be honest with you, the scene you created is usually worse than what will happen.
The conversation will have a structure, I recommend the following and it keeps it simple.
What happened? Basically this is the reason for the conversation. Discuss the incident and ask them what occurred or why it went the way it did. For example: Sue, this morning I received a call from Mr. Big Client in regards to a conversation you had with yesterday. Can you tell me what happened? Where do you think it took a turn for the worse? Why?
What should have happened? Follow up with asking the person – what should have happened. Now, if you are talking to them due to a policy violation (for example, not calling in sick) at this point make sure they know the policy and correct them if there is a misunderstanding. At this point, you will start to learn about their understanding/ knowledge of a particular situation. Same example: Sue, tell me what you think should have happened? Do you know what the company stance/policy/preference is in these situations?
How will you correct? Once they understand the difference between what happened and what should have occurred ask them “how will you ensure it doesn’t happen again”. Did you see that? You are asking them what they will do and you are not telling them. Continuing with Sue: I realize this was a unique situation, can you tell me how you can avoid this happening in the future?
This last part is what created the accountability in the person. Their idea, their plan and their responsibility. I have to warn you – the first time you do this your employee will look at you with a blank stare. Why? They are accustomed to being told what to do to fix and not asked. You are creating a shift in regards to accountability – this is a good thing.
I remember one manager doing this with an employee the first time (they had already been told various times how to fix performance) that it took the employee a couple days to come up with an answer (yes, it’s ok if it’s not immediate)…the amazing part is that her answer was “this job is not for me”, not because she was afraid of the repercussions or fear she couldn’t do the job, it was because while thinking about how to improve she realized she didn’t want to do that type of work!
That’s an extreme case. However you now get the employee thinking for themselves.
Are you willing to try it? What some help in implementing? Let talk about it.