Top 7 Steps for Addressing Unacceptable Employee Performance
By Myra Golden
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As managers, we often avoid opportunities to address unacceptable performance or behavior. Perhaps we fear our feedback will result in a difficult-to-handle response or harm relationships. The reality is, withholding constructive feedback will do more harm than good in the long run. Giving constructive feedback is easier and more effective when we are prepared. Following are 7 steps for addressing inappropriate behavior.
Here’s the scenario: Jessica has been tardy 3 days this week.
- State the facts – Start off by stating the facts. Be concise and direct. You know you’ve stated the facts when no one can disagree with what you’ve said. The goal of this step is to get both parties on the same page and to set the tone for productive dialogue. “Jessica, you were 10 minutes late this morning. You were also a few minutes late on Friday and Monday.”
- Interpret the facts, giving the benefit of the doubt – The other person may become defensive after you’ve stated the facts, after all, you’ve just pointed out a flaw in their performance or behavior and it is natural to take this personally or to become defensive. In this step, you want to bring down the wall of defensiveness by giving the person the benefit of the doubt. “I know your son just started kindergarten this week and I imagine the transition is effecting your schedule.”
- State your feelings – The reason you’re addressing the issue is because you have some feeling about it. Honor yourself and get those feelings out. Simply identify and state your feelings. When you do, don’t justify or minimize the feeling(s) – just name it. “I’m disappointed in your recent tardiness. Your tardiness directly impacts our service levels which means customers have to hold longer and your co-workers have a difficult time handling calls.”
- Validate the relationship – You’ve just authentically stated your feeling(s) regarding unacceptable performance. This may be a hard pill for your employee to swallow. Follow this up with a little sugar. Find something positive to say about your relationship and make it genuine. “You are one of my superstar employees! I’ve always appreciated the way you take initiative and anticipate customer’s needs.”
- Say, “Help me understand.” – In steps 1 – 4 you are doing all of the talking. Now it’s time to turn this into a dialogue and get your employee’s feedback. Do this by simply saying, “Help me understand…” For example: “Help me understand why you’ve been coming in late.”
- Request behavior change – Now you need to directly state what you need to have happen. “I have to have you here on time. Our customers need you here and your co-workers need you here.”
- Ask, “What do you think of what I’ve asked of you?” – This is a dialogue and what your employee is thinking and feeling matters. Let them know this by asking for their input. “Do you think what I’m asking of you is reasonable?”
Myra Golden is an award-winning professional speaker and principal of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC, a customer service training firm serving clients in food and beverage, banking, healthcare, hospitality, and other industries. Her client list includes McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin Tires, Pirelli, and Procter & Gamble, among many others.
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Article Submitted On: June 11, 2006