July 2022 – HOPE for Leaders Newsletter

A primer for dealing with problem employees

Work would be great if it weren’t for the people-or at least some of the people. Unfortunately, no leader is exempt from having to deal with problem employees. The tricky thing is to eliminate the problem without making things worse. Below is advice on how to effectively address the situation:

  • Don’t turn a blind eye to poor performance. Disciplining employees may be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore a performance problem. Hoping it will go away won’t resolve the issue, will probably make it worse, and may lead to additional problems with other employees. Take a stand as soon as problems occur.
  • Do explain to employees that actions have consequences. When approaching a problem employee, clearly outline your expectations. Then make sure the employee understands that failure to meet those expectations will have consequences. Leave no doubt that you take this situation seriously.
  • Don’t let personalities come into play. Discipline must be consistent. You can’t let problems slide with employees you favor while taking a hard line with those you don’t. Setting double standards will hurt morale, will undermine your authority, and could have legal repercussions.
  • Do keep a record of the incident. Even if you’re convinced that a single conversation has resolved the problem, you should still document the incident. Suppose you’re wrong and the employee doesn’t improve? You’ll want to be able to demonstrate all the steps you’ve taken to deal with the situation.
  • Don’t develop a termination mindset. Your first thought should be, “How can I coach this employee to do better?” not, “How can I get rid of this person?” Strive to protect the investment you and your company have made in the employee.
  • Do adhere to company policy. If the problem persists, don’t hesitate to seek help from human resources or your leader. They may be able to guide you toward a better result. In the worst case, they should be in the loop.

~Adapted from the Laundry Today website

Poor ethics: What’s your excuse?

Why do people make ethical mistakes? Frequently it’s because they’ve rationalized misbehavior. Here are five common excuses for compromising your ethics. If you hear yourself or your employees making any of these statements, take some time to examine your values and recommit to doing the right thing:

  • I have to cut corners to meet my goals.
  • I don’t have the time (or resources) to do the right thing.
  • My co-workers do the same thing.
  • My leader doesn’t want excuses; she wants results.
  • No one will ever know the difference.

~Adapted from the Ethics Resource Center website

Say you’re sorry; then move on

If you think being the leader means never having to say you’re sorry, think again. The truth is that a leader who never apologizes soon loses respect. Employees are usually quite aware of when leaders screw up. When a mea culpa isn’t forthcoming, employees are apt to wonder: Is it arrogance? Is the leader incapable of noticing his or her own mistakes? Does the leader simply not care? Or is he or she too cowardly to admit it? Of course, this doesn’t necessitate your groveling for forgiveness every time you make a mistake. Instead, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Get it over with. When you know you’ve dropped the ball, say so-whether it’s admitting a math error or acknowledging that you set an unrealistic deadline. Admit what you did, apologize, and make things right.
  • Don’t kill the messenger. If you don’t notice your mistake and someone points it out to you, don’t bluster and cover. Thank the person for bringing the error to your attention, apologize to those affected, and move on.
  • Don’t blame others. If it’s your error, own up to it and don’t pass the buck.
  • Don’t overdo it. No need to make huge promises about how you will redeem yourself. This can set you up for more trouble.

~Adapted from The Boss’s Survival Guide

More reviews equal less stress

Performance reviews are stressful for everyone. One way to ease anxiety: Hold them more often. Instead of a single major review every six or 12 months, hold an informal min-review once a month to make sure employees are on the right track toward their objectives. This gives employees a chance to adjust their efforts promptly and avoid any unpleasant surprises during the formal review session later.~Adapted from the Australian Institute of Management website