We have conversations with our employees everyday. Would you consider them productive? Do they move the employee, you or the company in the right direction?
When we talk to our employees it can be about the good (congratulations/well done), the bad (a mistake was made and we need to correct) or the ugly (this is serious and if not corrected, it could cost you your job). Specially with the bad and ugly conversations, are they productive?
By productive, I’m referring to conversations that lead to an improvement or change. There is an outcome that is desired and the person is going to work on it to accomplish the outcome. You may be thinking, “of course it is, I told them what they needed to do and they are going to do it”. Yes, sometimes this works. However, think back to conversations you had, was it really productive and did you get the desired outcome when you told them what to do? Not usually. If it did, we would not have a multi-step disciplinary process.
So how do we turn this around and ensure it’s productive? Simple – stop telling them what to do. (how many of you are scratching your heads?). Yes, I want you to stop telling them what do to and ASK them what they will do.
Once they understand the change that is needed, let them determine “how” they will do it. Give them the responsibility to come up with an answer and they will be accountable for the results. You will need to follow up on the results.
I had a client who had an accounting person who kept making the same mistakes. These mistakes did not only affect the bookkeeping, it also effected a person paycheck. The manager had talked to her several times and even starting the disciplinary process. I coached her through the productive conversation, and told her it would require patience on her part not to tell the employee what to do. Well, as you can imagine the first conversation went ok and the employee promised to “pay more attention to her work”. The manager thanked her and said “what else can you do”. The employee needs to come up with an action plan, a task/learning/something that is more concrete than what she said. The process went on for about a week and in the end the employee decided this wasn’t the job for her as she doesn’t like details. WOW! Now this wasn’t the outcome the manager wanted but it was in the best interest of the employee to find another type of work.
To have a productive conversation, you need to the tell the employee “what” is needed and let them come up with the “how”.
I have a “employee counselling form” (discipline) which walks you and the employee through this process. Would you like a copy? Click here.