Have you ever thought; “being in business would be so much more fun if I didn’t have to deal with people issues.” Suzanne has. She was referring to a long-term, valuable employee who took frequent smoke breaks, gossiped with other employees, and took two to four days off every month with little or no notice. Time off is covered by the company’s PTO policy, but the employees who had to pick up his duties were frustrated by his seeming lack of consideration and planning.
When asked why she didn’t have a talk with him, Suzanne replied, “I’ve tried several times, but he gets defensive. He says he’s under so much stress on the job, he needs to get away. He’s using his PTO, what can I say?’ Seven heads around the table nodded in understanding.
Business owners may feel uncomfortable giving candid feedback, but when an employee’s behavior adversely affects other employees, it behooves us to deal with the issue before it impacts everyone’s morale. It’s essential to do so in a manner that the employee may respond positively to:
- Schedule a one-on-one session: The meeting should be private and the invitation informal, “Let’s get together and talk about your progress.”
- Start positive: Start with duties they are performing well, avoid words like “but”, “however”, “although” in transitioning to your concerns. Explain to the employee that he is valued; that his behavior is getting in the way of his productivity.
- Not work related: Are there serious issues outside work that the employee needs to address?
- Be clear and specific: How is his behavior affecting the company and hurting employee morale? Give specific examples and actionable feedback.
- Frame your feedback with their future in mind: Focus on behaviors that will help the individual improve their performance. Your statements should reflect facts and observations.
- Don’t overdo it: There may be several areas the employee needs to work on; avoid confusion by only discussing one or two at a time.
- Find a solution together: Be respectful, include your employee in a two-way conversation so you understand one another’s perspective. Once you’ve clarified the facts, come up with a plan together. Ask the employee what would help him achieve the goal. Establish the expectation that you will review progress on a regular basis.
- Follow up: If you create clear goals and objectives, you should step back and let the employee implement them. Be sure to schedule future meetings to discuss the issues. Recognize when positive changes have been made with positive feedback and encouragement.
If you do not see improvement, you may have to balance the employee’s worth against his value to your business and the good of the rest of your staff.
How you deal with issues that affect the culture of your company is important. Doing nothing, hoping the issue will resolve itself, may erode your entire organization.
The road is easier together,
Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group