Deal with it NOW to Avoid a Mess!
The Good Enough, The Bad and The Ugly Behavior - Blog post
Today’s Scene: The Ugly Behavior
Have you ever worked in an office where you could feel the tension as soon as you passed through the door? Maybe it was when a specific person came through? Some people just carry it like a cloud over their head; following along and raining on anyone that goes near. And it is the worst when it is the Boss. It can give an employee a complex.
Employee Blindsided was just that one. She had been working at the company about 6 months. At first, she thought she was doing well. Everyone was friendly and seemed to like having her around. But then, the Boss would come through and seemed…well, kind of moody. It was a change but Employee Blindsided assumed it was personal issues because no one ever said anything to her. She decided to keep her head down but keep doing what she had been doing. She really liked the rest of the team.
Then, Boss A. Void asked for a meeting on Friday afternoon. Employee Blindsided walked in to the office and sat down.
“I am sorry this is just not working out. We are going to have to let you go.” Employee Blindsided was, well, blindsided. Boss A. Void had waited until a client project had been so damaged that only a complete re-start and a plea of an extended deadline could possibly save the company’s reputation.
“I know you don’t like me much but why am I being fired? Everyone else likes me.” Employee asked.
Frustrated, Boss A. Void vents “This project is a complete mess and NOW the whole company has to start over to save the client relationship. Today is your last day. Accounting has your final paycheck ready now. My Assistant will walk you to your desk to help pack your things. Good bye and good luck.”
Stunned, angry and embarrassed Employee Blindsided stood up and left. Thinking to herself “Mess? What mess? I did what I was told.”
Today’s lesson: Yes. You must manage the mess you make Boss!
Sooooo many issues here!
First, even if you don’t 100% like an employee they should not be able to tell (not to mention it is time to address improvements in your hiring process!). An underperformer should NOT be left in the position to the point of personal feelings (whether the Boss’, the Employee’s or the team’s that is JUST as likely to be affected by the growing tension) creating an additional layer to the situation. It is likely that Boss A. Void was trying to stay away from the employee for fear of actually having the confrontation of holding Employee Blindsided accountable.
The action that a business owner can address NOW to cut these challenges off before they damage a business reputation or team comradery, is your on-boarding! This Employee was new enough that they should have been involved in extended training and meetings for opportunities to re-set work performance, guide and clarify on performance goals and give the employee a space to ask questions! These meetings are pre-scheduled and therefore set the expectation that performance will be discussed specifically for improvements and to create the best path for success!
I hear you…” I have an onboarding process. The first day I even take them to lunch!” In this case the employee had been working for the company for 6 months. If a Boss has not really sat down with an employee since the first week they began, of course they developed a path of repeating what they know. If they have not been given feedback and instruction on what specifically should be improved and how to create success in the role…well, then yep. It is on you, Boss.
Worse, and this is the Ugly Behavior part, is the avoidance. Boss A. Void created the “mess” by being either afraid to hurt the person’s feelings or risk making them angry. Maybe Boss A. Void just didn’t want to “deal with it” right now and kept putting it off. And the one I hear the MOST, I just don’t have time to hire anyone right now, so I must make do.
By putting off meetings and discussions with Employee Blindsided, Boss A. Void:
· Alienated what could have been a good hire and damaged the company’s reputation as an employer
· Created a toxic and disconnected culture at the company. Not just the tension between the Boss and the Employee. An employee that everyone at the company likes is being shown the door…they were just as blindsided as the Employee.
· Created an environment of “Am I next?’. While teams may not be privy to the discipline specifics of underperformers, the company will notice when someone is being held to the same high standard AND that makes your high performers happier! The uncertainty of “Am I doing good enough?” and “What if the Boss doesn’t like me?” will have people looking for new jobs QUICKLY!
· Damaged the company reputation by NOT meeting a client deadline….and blaming a staff member under their own nose. It does happen that deadlines get missed but being in front of each team member regularly will help!
· Possibly hit their income line in a negative way. Will that client continue on when the next project comes up?
Bosses can let the fear of 1-1 confrontations becoming a dramatic Jerry Springer-like scenario in their head. Don’t over inflate the word “confrontation”. It only becomes angry and hostile IF the communications were delayed to the point of no recovery or the two people cannot find a way to come to an understanding.
In other words, if Boss A. Void had been in communications and addressing errors or lacking performance AS SOON AS noticed, then Employee Blindsided would have had the opportunity to learn, adjust or admit that the position was a mis-match. All this SHOULD have occurred before a project could have become such a “mess” as to potentially damage a client relationship and your own company!
Scale on purpose,