Last week two clients called me within minutes of each other, both ready to abruptly fire an employee and asking for assistance. However, I quickly learned that in neither case had they actually sat down and communicated with their employees that there was even a problem with the employee’s performance and/or behavior. And therein lies the problem.
They Can’t Read Your Mind
How does an employee know their performance and/or behavior is not acceptable if you don’t tell them? ESP (extrasensory perception) has never been a viable means of human communication. And as much as you might like them too, your employees truly cannot read your mind. “Well, they should just know,” you say. Well, let’s look at it this way. With football season starting, and coaches across America communicating with their players as to what the expectations are both on and off the field, we know they are very intentional about no player having to read their mind regarding job expectations, certainly not if they expect to win any games and secure a good reputation both on and off the field. Coaches confront their team, sometimes on a daily basis, communicate their expectations, often on a daily basis, and are consistent in their treatment of all their players.
The 3 C’s
That being said, business owners and supervisors need to take a page out of the coach’s playbook and incorporate these three “C’s” when dealing with employees:
Confront — Be intentional. Sit down on a regular basis and talk to the employee, providing them with both positive and corrective feedback on their performance and/or behavior. Of course, the best time to address employee performance is when you observe either positive or negative performance. Other than that, choose whatever timing best fits your business. Just make sure this a regular and scheduled priority. A once-a-year review, or when you feel it necessary to fire an employee, should not be the first time the employee hears that you have a problem with him/her.
Communicate — It’s important that you be specific in your feedback, i.e., point out examples of what they are doing right and what needs to be improved upon, as well as how they can take steps to improve. Document this feedback, especially if the employee is not making significant improvement after your first conversation, and provide them with timely, detailed feedback.
Consistency — Treat all employees the same. Don’t speak to one employee about attendance and not hold another employee accountable who also struggles with getting to work on time. Employees are aware if the business owner has double standards among them, and this may cause a problem for you later if you seek to take disciplinary action against only one of the offenders.
All Players All In
Remember, a head coach needs his players to be all in and perform their duties to the best of the ability in order for the team to be successful. In your business or organization, you also need your team members (employees) to perform their duties and responsibilities successfully, efficiently and with full working knowledge of the expectations you have of them in order for your business to be successful.
For more tips or assistance with employee relations, contact me. I offer an initial complimentary one-hour consultation for businesses desiring HR consulting.