Merge's Blog

Problem employee? Clearly articulate the issue to get a positive result

Last October, I blogged about dealing with a difficult employee, and the importance of determining whether the problem is one of performance, behaviour or attitude.  Once you do that though, you still have to raise the issue with the employee if  you want to successfully resolve the situation.  In other words: you have to be able to articulate the problem, clearly and succinctly, so that the employee “gets it”.  I mean, if you can’t describe the issue to the employee, then the likelihood that the employee will actually take positive steps to improve the situation is slim to non-existent.  So here’s what you need to do to clearly articulate the problem.  Describe the issue by asking yourself three questions.

  1. What results do you expect?  What is it that you expect this employee to do, or not do?
  2. What results are you getting now?  What are you observing right now that leads you to the conclusion that this employee is not meeting your expectations that you identified in your answer to question #1?
  3. What is the difference?  What is the difference between what you expect and what you are getting right now?  It’s absolutely critical that you can articulate this, because if you can’t, there is no way that you can expect your employee to act to fix the problem.

When working with managers and supervisors, I actually recommend that they write out the answers to these three questions.  Writing out the answers forces you to think the issue through before you raise it with the employee, and this will stand you in good stead in terms of getting the positive outcome that you desire.

To show you what I mean, here are my possible answers to the three questions:

  1. I expect you to participate fully in team initiatives.
  2. I have observed that if a decision is made that you don’t fully agree with at the time of decision-making, you drag your heels on implementation.
  3. Once a decision is made, despite your past misgivings, I expect you to support the implementation moving forward by identifying issues and participating fully in problem-solving sessions.

So the key answer here is #3 –the difference – what I want my employee to do – in this case, once a decision is made, to support the implementation and participate fully in problem-solving sessions.

Forcing yourself to answer these three questions (in writing) will greatly increase the likelihood that you will get the positive outcome that you desire from your employee.

So I’d like your feedback?  Have you tried this approach?  Did it work, or not?





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