Addressing behavior and performance issues


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I believe that almost all employees want to do a good job. And for the most part, they do. Even so, we do from time to time end up with someone who isn’t meeting our expectations. Here are several ways I see managers and owners address that issue.

* Never say anything to the employee, but silently become more and more frustrated. Nothing like a resentment to turn around an employee’s performance! The employee thinks he’s doing fine, but his manager is getting an ulcer. People aren’t mind readers. Managers have to say something if they’re going to improve someone’s performance.

* Complain to others about the employee, but never say anything to the person him/herself. Hey, at least they’re talking about it! Too bad it’s to the wrong people. I’m sure the manager’s spouse, friends, or even his/her dog or cat would appreciate it if the manger stopped talking to them and started actually doing something about the employee.

* Say something to the employee, but sugarcoat it so much the employee thinks they’re doing okay. This happened to me once. When I was in college I was working full-time, going to school full-time, and partying full-time. I was a very busy guy. When my store manager was transferred I was sure I was going to be promoted. When I went in for what I thought was an interview I got fired. Let me tell you, that was a shock! The manager tried to say that he told me my job was in jeopardy, but if he did he so sugarcoated it I never heard what I needed to hear.

The only way to truly address an employee issue is this.

* Meet one-on-one with the employee, and be direct and tactful about his/her behavior or performance. People deserve to hear when they’re failing to meet their manager’s expectations. They also have the right to know the consequences for failing to change or improve.

Sure, you might be uncomfortable having this conversation, but the alternatives simply don’t work. Most people who struggle to have these kinds of sit-downs hate confrontation. Well, it’s not confrontation. It’s not about the person at all. It’s about his/her behaviors, actions, or performance that are falling short of what’s required in the job. By meeting and working with the person you’re (hopefully) going to be able to help her improve so she’s able to continue in the role.

But remember, there is a difference between addressing a behavioral issue or one that is about job performance.

A sales or service performance issue does require some time to improve. Chances are the employee needs some additional time and training to be able to get his/her performance to the level that’s required. In that case it might make sense to give the employee 30-60 days to turn it around.

A behavior issue is different. The employee should be expected to change his/her behaviors immediately. If he doesn’t, he should be on the fast track to a new job somewhere else.

Too often managers aren’t willing to draw that line in the sand. Or they do, but then keep redrawing it further out. I once met a retailer who cut an employee’s hours because she was so miserable to customers and colleagues. Great. Now she only hurt the store ten hours a week instead of twenty!

Another storeowner I know gave an employee thirty days to quit being rude. She should have been given thirty seconds, if that. Expect people with behavioral issues to change immediately, and if they don’t they should be gone. You might need to document and follow a process, but that doesn’t require a certain amount of time. It requires action on your part.

So let me ask, in which one of these do you see yourself? The good news is that any manager can learn to be direct and tactful. It just requires taking action, and maybe putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

By the way, if you struggle to be direct and tactful with your staff you might consider joining the Extraordinary Coach program the next time I offer it. I’ve helped hundreds of owners and mangers not only become comfortable in addressing employee issues, but by becoming better coaches they can often avoid needing to have these meetings altogether.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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