I'm excited to be working on my next LinkedIn course Managing Employee Performance Problems (written for managers to be released in October), which is a follow up to my previous Managing Employee Problems, written more for HR professionals. I think I'm getting a rep for being the "people problem fixer".
Well...it is what I do. I help company leaders minimize and successfully handle people problems. For them, it feels daunting and difficult. I feel their pain. My response, "Dealing with people problems is not rocket science, but it is people science."
In my 20 years in business, I've observed the main reason problems persist and escalate is because most leaders don't understand human behavior. So in trying to fix something, they make it worse or they don't take situations seriously and that allows them to blossom. It all turns into a hot mess!... and it's costly in so many ways!
So, to help you avoid what many leaders have themselves created, I want to provide a framework, that if you truly take it heart and implement, will absolutely minimize employee problems. This framework, by the way, is a portion of a complete system I've developed with clients and which has been tested in some of the most challenging environments. So it's tested and proven. You can learn more about that here.
One of the key reasons this framework works every time is that it incorporates a variety of principles taken from the human behavioral sciences.
Here's what needs to be in place (and you'll notice these fill the gaps traditional management models create):
- Clear, consistent communication from date of hire what's expected regarding values and behaviors (this is beyond the job description). We use base performance pillars such as accountability, tolerance, respect, collaborative...to name a few. These are understood and agreed to from the beginning.
- Regular, consistent accountability of those behaviors to and by all parties (we use daily in the spirit of protecting team/company culture). And since managers are seen as facilitators and collaborators, that means anyone can give anyone else feedback. It nurtures a culture of trust, mutual accountability and responsibility to all parties (vs. one-way manager to employee). Power is shared and pushed out to the group vs. the manager holding most of the power (fundamental principle = empower employees).
- Have a constructive conversation to address issues when they arise with the expectation of timely resolution. This part is key because it doesn't allow counter-productive behaviors to continue -- this action quickly "nips it in the bud". Additionally, it communicates expected responsibility and accountability to what's happening to and with all affected parties. It also coaches to the "at-hire" agreed behaviors that are being continually communicated as part of the performance and culture of the team. It's not a surprise the discussion is happening and there is an expectation it will be resolved and not continue.
- If the employee is unable or unwilling to honor the commitment they made -- perhaps they are not a fit. And that's how it's approached. There isn't any "writing up", reprimanding, multiple warnings, threatening of firing, disciplining, kinds of activities. These are archaic, parental management practices. Employees are adults (in theory) -- they have choices. Coaching is clear, compassionate and direct. Here are your choices...it's up to you...and if you want it, I and the team are here to help.
Now, in reading this you may say, "Well this isn't anything new." Yes, you're right-- however very few companies function this way and that's why employee problems exist to the volume and magnitude they do.
For those companies who do not have these challenges (meaning it's a rare exception, not the rule) they have mature cultures. Employees are trusted to get their work done, work together and if there is an issue they take responsibility to sort it out. If they hit a roadblock they get help, from a fellow colleague or manager. And yes, these companies do exist.
Another thing you may have noticed, I never once mentioned HR... yep.
Ultimately, the reason employee problems exist is that they are allowed.