In many ways, Bob’s a good employee. He’s highly productive, his work is top quality and he has even come up with creative ideas that led to new revenue streams. But he has one personality trait that drives everyone, including you, nuts. Maybe he’s always negative. Maybe he’s overly critical. Perhaps he has disgusting personal habits. In any case, you need to confront your employee about the problem — and there’s a wrong way and a right way to do so.
In Surving the Toxic Workplace, psychotherapist and business consultant Linnda DurrÃ© outlines a step-by-step process that works whether you’re confronting a colleague or an employee.
- State the problem. Start with a positive compliment about the person, then go directly into the problem, giving feedback clearly and with specific examples. Try to end on a positive note.
- State your feelings. Say how the person’s behaviour makes you feel, and explain why. Be specific.
- Offer solutions. Give various options for rectifying the behaviour, and let the person know how much better the working arrangement will be if his or her behaviour changes.
- Listen to the response. Be quiet and really listen so that you absorb the person’s response. Take mental notes so you can respond to everything he said.
- Dialogue. Have an honest dialogue, listen without interrupting, and comment on everything the person says.
- Resolution. Decide what the action plan will be and agree on it, perhaps in writing.
- Follow up. Send a letter or e-mail summarizing what the resolution was. If the situation calls for it, copy it to whomever might be directly affected.
- Give an ultimatum, if necessary. If he refuses to change, or if you’ve given him plenty of time to change but he hasn’t, then it might be necessary to lay down an ultimatum. State what you intend to do if compliance hasn’t been achieved, and be specific. For instance, tell him you’ll speak to his boss, or that you’ll involve the HR director to put a move toward dismissal into action.