Tag Archives: self-improvement

The Gift of Feedback

7 Steps to Move from Confrontation to Conversation

By Dr. David Chinsky

David Chinsky-performance problem

Feedback is a gift that anchors your relationships in honesty. Everyone depends upon the feedback they receive to appreciate and reinforce their areas of strength, and to identify areas for personal and professional growth and development.

While there is no question that many people miss numerous opportunities to provide more frequent positive feedback that is specific, timely, and genuine, the bigger challenge for most people is providing constructive feedback that reduces the wall of defensiveness that often accompanies their feedback.

The seven-step constructive feedback process outlined below offers a framework that converts the typical constructive feedback confrontation into a more productive feedback conversation.

Develop a shared understanding about the situation and to identify causes of performance problems. Click To Tweet

The Seven-Step Process

Step 1: Describe the Performance Problem

Employees (or colleagues or bosses) must first understand the problem that you’re experiencing with them before they can be expected to improve. In this step, you should describe the actual performance and/or behavior and contrast it with the expected performance. To begin, simply describe the problem in a sentence or two. Remain as objective as possible and stick to one point—do not talk about multiple performance issues in the same feedback discussion.

Here’s an example:

“Tom, I’d like to talk with you because I’ve noticed that you’ve been late to four of our last five meetings.” That’s it. If you can’t describe the performance problem in 30 seconds or less, you don’t know what the problem is yourself. In Step 1, state the performance problem in a concise, simple-to-understand fashion. There should be no ambiguity as to why you’re having this conversation.

Step 2: Explain the Impact

During the typical feedback discussion, leaders often jump from the description of the problem directly to the development of an action plan. They want to know immediately what the employee is going to do to resolve the problem. To assure meaningful feedback conversations, employees must know how their behavior is impacting others. In this step, convey the unacceptable impact of the behavior, or the unacceptable performance, on colleagues, the organization and perhaps even the individual himself or herself.

Let’s go back to the previous example of Tom being late to meetings, as described in Step 1 above.

Step 2 would continue the conversation with: “When you are late, it causes us to have to stop what we’re doing while everyone acknowledges your late arrival, and this interrupts the momentum of our meeting and lowers our productivity.”

This second step is very important because many times the employee doesn’t even realize his behavior is causing a negative impact. If you don’t describe how his behavior affects others, he might quickly dismiss the problem, saying something like, “Yeah, so what’s your point? A lot of other people are late, too.” So, rather than just talking about the problem of being late, help him understand the impact he’s having by being late. It’s not just the lateness you’re talking about, it’s the diminished productivity, the lack of momentum, the interruption—and some might even say it’s the dishonoring of the punctuality of the other people who arrived on time.

Here’s another example, incorporating both Steps 1 and 2:

“Jen, I wanted to talk with you today because I’ve noticed that you are the first to dismiss the ideas of other members of our team. Before you ask questions and try to understand someone else’s position, you immediately go on the attack.”

That’s the problem, or Step 1, in 30 seconds or less. The impact might be stated as follows, in 30 seconds or less:

“When you are so quick to judge, it causes other members of the team to withdraw and withhold their input because they are afraid that when they speak you’re going to cut them off or give all the reasons why their idea is stupid. This works against the environment I’m trying to create where everyone feels comfortable sharing their unique perspectives.”

Step 3: Identify the Cause

Once you have described the problem and explained the impact, then you can work with the employee to identify the cause of the performance problem you described in Step 1.Don’t jump in and immediately propose what you believe is causing the problem. Let the employee take the lead here. Your job is to ask one good open-ended question that invites him to think about what might be causing his lateness—or what might be preventing her from listening before she shoots down a teammate’s idea.

The goal with this step is to develop a shared understanding about the situation and to identify causes of performance problems. Encourage the employee to discuss the performance from his or her point of view. Once you’ve asked your one open-ended Step 3 question, such as “What’s preventing you from getting to our meetings on time?” or “What is preventing you from asking questions first before becoming critical of others’ ideas?”, your job is to let “silence do the heavy lifting”. Do not give in to the temptation of answering this question for the other person. What you think may be causing the problem is not always the case.

Step 4: Develop an Action Plan

You will develop a more meaningful action plan once you’ve clearly described the problem, explained the impact and identified the cause. If you simply leap from performance problem to action plan, you’ll miss out on a lot of conversation that might help to customize the specific elements of an action plan.

In Step 4, you’re looking for the employee to tell you what he will commit to doing differently to ensure he’s able to get to meetings on time or what she will do to take time to listen first to her colleagues’ ideas before jumping in and being negative.

Step 4 leads to the identification of a solution, a time table for any follow-up actions and an action plan that is specific and measurable.

Step 5: Confirm Understanding

Before the conversation ends, ensure that both you and your employee are on the same page. This is an opportunity for you or the employee to summarize what was discussed, who has agreed to what, and when you expect these changes to occur. If there is any disconnect, you can identify it and resolve it during Step 5—not two weeks or a month down the road when you expect something to be done and then realize you misunderstood each other.

Step 6: Document the Conversation

Take a few minutes to document the conversation, even if this is the first time you’ve had to talk with an employee about an issue—and certainly if it’s the second time you’re having the same conversation. When you document the conversation you’ve had, you’ll have the information available should this develop into a more serious performance management issue.

Step 7: Follow Up to Ensure Satisfactory Performance

More than likely, you or your employee will make some kind of commitment during the feedback conversation. It’s incredibly important to follow up on these commitments. This helps you determine if the employee has actually improved or changed behavior. Your efforts are wasted if you don’t take the time to follow up as needed.

When these seven steps are performed in the order in which they are presented above, you will engage more confidently and effectively when the need arises to provide constructive feedback. In about a minute or less, you will have set up the conversation by describing the problem, explaining the impact and asking one good question to turn the conversation over to the person receiving your feedback. This will ensure that you maintain control of the beginning of these conversations when others may attempt to derail your efforts or move you off point

Dr. David Chinsky is the Founder of the Institute for Leadership Fitness, a celebrated speaker, and author of The Fit Leader’s Companion: A Down-to-Earth Guide for Sustainable Leadership Success. After spending nearly twenty years in executive leadership positions at the Ford Motor Company, Nestle and Thomson Reuters, he now focuses on preparing leaders to achieve their highest level of professional effectiveness and leadership fitness. For more information on Dr. David Chinsky, please visit: www.FitLeadersAcademy.com.

Are You Really Too Busy? Seven Steps to Reclaim Your Life

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Perhaps you’ve heard this story. Imagine you’re sitting in a college class. It’s one of those big classrooms, with tiered seating, able to accommodate hundreds of students. The class is assembled in expectation; what will the prof do today?

At exactly 8 o’clock, he strides in and without acknowledging the classes’ presence, reaches under the lectern and produces a gallon glass jar. He sits it on a nearby table. Then he pulls out a box of rocks and sets it next to the jar. Finally, he fixes his gaze on his students. Garnering their attention, he clears his throat, gestures to the rocks, and asks, “Who would like to show us how much you can fit in?”

Unable to contain himself, an eager-to-impress freshman shoots up his hand. Desiring to make an impression, Mr. Eager-to-Impress carefully places rocks in the jar.

“Is the jar full?” The professor asks.

“Yes!” the students reply in unison.

“Can you fit any more in?”

“No!”

Then the instructor produces a bag of pebbles. The students gasp; a hush falls over the room. Mr. Eager-to-Impress is in a quandary. Should he cut his losses and keep quiet or attempt to salvage his bravado. Hesitantly he raises his hand and then comes forward. With greater care he places a handful of pebbles at the top and by tapping, shaking, and rotating the jar, they make their way to the gaps below. Satisfied with the results, he returns to his chair hoping for the best.

We must guard against becoming so busy dealing with life that we forget to live it. Click To Tweet

“Is the jar full, now?”

“Um, yes,” the students answer.

“Can you fit any more in?”

“No.” Their answer is guarded.

Next the instructor brings out a pail of sand. Many students smile. “How about now?” Eager-to-Impress is not so eager anymore, but feels his fate is already decided. Without being asked, he slinks back to the table and using the same technique, filters the sand through the courser maze of rocks and pebbles. Red-faced, he sits down, anxious for class to end.

The teacher gleefully asks, “Is the jar full now?”

No one ventures a response. Whatever they might say, they fear would be wrong; plus, no one wants to stand out like Eager-to-Impress.

The professor ignores their silence, “Can you fit any more in the jar?” More silence.

With practiced timing, the learners squirm in the hush of the moment. Without saying a word, the teacher reaches under the podium and brings forth a pitcher of water. Some students groan; others laugh. Unable to contain himself, the educator grins. “How about now?”

Slowly he pours the water into the jar, permeating every crevice. He fills it to the top and then overflows it. There’s no doubt whether or not the jar is full.

“What can we learn from this?”

Eager-to-Impress, wanting to salvage something from this debacle, summons his courage and hesitantly says, “It means that no matter how busy you are, you can always fit more in!”

“No,” the professor bellows, pounding his fist on the table. “It means that unless you do the big things first, they’ll never get done!”

I’ve heard several variations of this story. Since I don’t know who wrote it, I share my version with a nod to “Anonymous.”

I’m adept at handling the pebbles and sand in my life, topping it off with an abundant supply of water to make things seem full. However, I must be intentional to handle the rocks, those important tasks. Without deliberate action, I put off the big stuff until tomorrow, attending to life’s minutia, without tackling its priorities.

It’s epidemic; everyone is busy. We’re busy at work and leave to be busy at home; we’re busy in recreation and busier still on vacation, needing to return to work to rest. Our busyness distracts us from what’s important, from what really matters, from those things that could truly make a difference.

I’ve pondered my own busyness and am working towards my cure:

1) Time Management: The thrust of time management is controlling how we spend our time to allow time to do more. This doesn’t bring relief, it just means we’re squeezing more into an already full day. Turn time management on its head, using it to control how we spend our time, so that we do less.

2) Multitasking: When I multitask, I’m not really doing two things at once, but merely quickly switching back and forth. I fear my pursuit of multitasking has only served to make me ADD! Not only is multitasking counter-productive, there’s evidence it messes up our brain.

3) Keep a Time Log: I used to unintentionally irritate my managers by periodically asking them to keep a time log for a week; I’d do it too. They hated it and so did I, but the results were instructive.

Let’s look at some easy timewasters. How much TV do you watch a day? How much time do you spend online? This amounts to hours that could be put to a different use, attending to the big things, not squandered in passive activities of no real consequence. While we all need to relax, if we weren’t so perpetually busy, we wouldn’t need so much time to escape.

4) Just Say No: We tell our kids to say “no” to certain behaviors and would do well to heed our advice. Sometimes it’s wise to say “no” to good things in order to protect ourselves from over-committing and ending up too busy to do anything well.

5) Set Limits: My tolerance for work is about 50 to 55 hours a week. If things balloon beyond that, out of self-preservation I cut back until I again have a tolerable schedule. If I was self-policing to a 55-hour workweek, I theorized I could learn to limit myself to 45. It took some time, but I was able to do it. In looking at my output and quality during those 45-hour workweeks, I saw nothing that suffered. I was also more relaxed, less stressed, and had more free time.

6) Know Yourself: My tendency is to handle the pebbles and sand at the beginning of my day and attend to the rocks in the afternoon – if there’s time. This isn’t wise, as my time of greatest focus and peak energy is in the morning. Ironically, I was handling trivial stuff at my peak while reserving the important tasks for my low point. I’ve noted a similar cycle throughout the week and another that is seasonal. It takes concerted effort, but I strive to prioritize key tasks for peak times, while delegating lesser activities to my lower energy moments.

7) Then Do the Big Things: Once we take steps to control life’s activities, we can attend to the big things. Without the pressures of trivial concerns, there’s freedom to focus on the important, the life altering, and the significant, removing us from the rut that all too easily goes from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—all without noticeable advancement.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is a published author and commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services.

The 3 P’s to Becoming an Engaged Healthcare Consumer

By Dr. Josh Luke

Josh Luke-healthcare consumerHas your business or startup made a major purchase only to find out later you over-spent significantly? How often are you making this same mistake with healthcare? Moreover, it’s likely that your employees are making this mistake every day, yet they may not even know they have an option.

Unless you as an organization take ownership of educating your workforce, it’s likely your employees will continue to overspend. And remember, if they are overspending their own money then you can multiply that by three to four times for its financial impact on the company. For example, a simple surgery can cost your company 30,000 to 40,000 dollars more if the employee does not choose a Center of Excellence.

It’s very common that a hospital charges 60 percent more for the exact same procedure as a competing hospital directly across the street. To confuse this process even further, would you believe that the same exact doctor will operate on you at either of these hospitals? This is what happens when you are led to believe “your insurance will pay for it.” These are the six words that killed American healthcare. Have a plan that focuses on preventative care, as well as personalized care. Click To Tweet

Your Insurance Will Not Pay For It

When you buy a new car, do you compare features and price? When you buy a house do you shop neighborhoods, school districts and number of bedrooms? Of course you do. Why don’t you do the same when it comes to your personal health? Why are Americans afraid to ask a doctor for a second opinion or just an alternative when a high cost procedure is recommended?

Well, the short answer is that we have been led to believe that our insurance will cover the costs so it’s not important which facility we choose. But that’s dead wrong. Each time an employee chooses a higher cost provider, that costs is added in some form to the following years premium cost to your company, which in turn is passed on to you. Year after year. Its inflation by design! Not your design, but by the hospitals, insurers and pharma companies among others, who benefit from constantly increasing prices.

Become an EHC

It is critical that individuals become Engaged Healthcare Consumers (EHC). How do you personally become an EHC? Start by focusing on the 3P’s to becoming an EHC: Plan, Prevent & Personalize: Have a Plan that focuses on Preventative Care, as well as Personalized Care.

Here are a few steps toward becoming an EHC:

P #1—Have a Plan: The first P is to take control of your health by creating a healthy living Plan. That plan includes your dietary goals, as well as fitness and lifestyle habits. Also, if you suffer from a condition or chronic disease that impacts your health, your plan should include specialized steps to specifically address those needs as well. Your plan should also include several Personalized and Preventative Medicine steps.

Update your plan at least annually, but daily monitoring and tracking of diet and fitness habits are critical in shaping this plan as well. There are plenty of tools available via mobile phone application to track both diet and fitness. Also, research mobile applications available to support you in disease management efforts for any chronic diseases you may have such as diabetes or hypertension.

P #2—Personalized Medicine Tactics: A number of personalized medicine tactics should be considered including DNA testing and genome sequencing, as well as functional and integrative medicine tactics. The more you can learn about how your body differs from others, how your body metabolizes medication and food, and reacts in general to different foods, exercises and lifestyle habits, the healthy you will be. Implement these tactics into you Plan!

P #3—Preventative Medicine Tactics: The second key component of your plan is to utilize the tools, resources and technology available to assist you in monitoring and improving health. From checking your blood pressure, to diabetic management to tracking exercise and dietary consumption, the second key component of your healthy living plan is Preventative Medicine tactics. It’s only a matter of years now before science will identify the exact medication that is best for your condition based on your personal metabolism, known as polygenic risk scoring. At present we are well on our way to that so utilize the tools presently available.

To date there has been little evidence suggesting any link between price and quality in healthcare. In fact, those doctors who engage in the discussion about fair pricing are often getting higher quality scores than the high cost provider. These doctors and facilities that offer lower pricing and higher qualities are known as Centers of Excellence, often referred to as within the narrow network. Once you begin your journey to becoming an Engaged Healthcare Consumer, continue by shopping for healthcare Centers of Excellence. This will save significant dollars for both you and your employer.

So while corporate America has finally stepped up to lead the charge against hyperinflation in American healthcare, individuals can do their part by becoming Engaged Healthcare Consumers. The tactics listed above are simple, and will get start you down your EHC path.

Dr. Josh Luke is a celebrated speaker, award-winning Futurist, a faculty member at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, and author of Health—Wealth: 9 Steps to Financial Recovery. Drawing on his experiences as a hospital CEO, Dr. Luke delivers engaging and entertaining keynotes that teach audiences simple concepts on how individuals and companies can save thousands on healthcare. For more information on Dr. Josh Luke, please visit: www.DrJoshLuke.com.

Harness the Power of Spiritual Investments in Your Business

By Baldwin Tom

Baldwin Tom-spiritual investmentsThere are seven types of investments available to every organization, and each has its use in growing a business. Organizations grow or die with investments. Used poorly or ignored, investments can destroy a business. Of all the investments, spiritual capital is special. Spiritual capital is the single investment that catalyzes all of the others.

When there is robust investment on the spiritual side within an organization, there are significant transformative changes possible because, not only do people care about their jobs and the company, people also want to contribute beyond their job descriptions. Spiritual capital not only serves as a catalyst for other investments, it serves as an internal power source to motivate people to work harder and smarter for an organization. This in turn creates energy in organizations along with positive results that follow.

How is the word spiritual defined? It is not defined in a religious context, nor part of an organized belief system. From various sources, this is spiritual: It is about emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or artistic performance; it has to do with human personality—intellect, will, and emotions; it consists of mind, character, thoughts, and feelings; and in Christian circles, one considers mind, will, and emotion as a definition of the soul of a person.If leaders build a culture around what is meaningful for their people, there is a high potential for new energy release leading to creativity and innovation Click To Tweet

Can we suggest that when investing in spiritual capital, one is engaging the soul of an organization? It is no wonder that spiritual capital investments have tremendous impact in and on organizations. The catalytic potential of spiritual capital is broad. For example, when spiritual capital is coupled with human capital, the investments support enhanced leadership and management, and support a competitive edge from people who build intellectual capital with social interactions that lead to fostering collaborations.

When spiritual capital and relationship capital are invested, the culture of an organization is altered to favor resiliency as this generates a culture of caring and support for each other—establishing a desirable workplace. In a real way, it is about taking care of people so they care about the organization and its customers. There is tremendous creative energy in such environments. Just look at some of the technology companies where the norm is to provide employee-friendly needs, like food, health, rest and recreation, at no additional cost to the employee—and during the work day at that! Think Google.

In addition to the organizational implications, a most important aspect of spiritual capital investment is that it encourages people to action. People act from a spiritual foundation with higher motivations in doing good rather than making money. It is about long-term benefits rather than short-term profits. It’s about improving the quality of life. It’s about making a difference in peoples’ lives as a primary goal. Sounds like that’s how the current millennial generation is characterized, where accumulating material things is not a focus, but on spiritual capital that provides internal nourishment.

Interesting observation: The healthcare industry has been legislated to move from a fee-based (monetary-focus) to a value-based (people-focused) compensation system. This is looking like moving to spiritual capital investments from financial investments of the past. This is a good thing.

How do Spiritual Capital investments keep giving?

  • Self-sustaining: As the aspects of spiritual capital become embedded in the DNA of an organization, those new norms continue to remind people what the organization stands for and is willing to do to support their efforts. Everything that leadership does, by their words and actions, in an organization that values people leads to a confidence that peoples’ efforts in helping to do better will be appreciated. This belief is contagious and will spur others to do likewise. For example, if people are acknowledged and/or rewarded for taking initiatives to improve products, services, or processes, such recognition becomes a powerful incentive to do it yet again. Everyone loves a pat on the back from time to time. Benefit? Employees love working here because they are respected for who the are and what they can do. Leadership loves working here because they have highly motivated staff who they know will do what it takes to improve on what they do.
  • Self-leveraging: The high energy and high morale that results from successful high-level efforts is infectious. This spurs others to also step out beyond their comfort zones in support of the organization and its customers. In life, competition is built into our personalities. If you can do it, I can do it too! Even if an effort falls short of expectations, there is no reprimand, just guidance to do better next time. In an ideal work environment, our innate desire to please our superiors creates a pattern of continuous improvement, as each success is recognized. Benefit? Employees believe that this is a place where they can grow and advance as long as they take the initiative to help themselves excel. When people see a future, they are happier employees.
  • Renewable energy: Each time a person engages in this environment, they know they are supported and are valued. This understanding reminds them of the support that will come from the organization and rekindles their willingness to do more. Success breeds success! Renewable power is stored in an organization from the energy generated by the efforts of those who stepped out to improve their condition beyond their job description. New energy is created by others when they believe that the organization is consistent and will continue to honor its ways to support the environment established by investing in spiritual capital. When the organization helps employees to succeed, employees help the organization to better serve their customers. A clear win-win scenario!
  • Fills (supports, energizes) the soul: The collective energy permeates the organization and is captured in its processes, procedures, interactions, events, and standard operating procedures. The culture becomes one of doing good for people while doing well financially, a collective win for all concerned. An overall feeling of well-being is created when there is coherency in values and belief—when walking-the-talk and talking-the-walk are in synchrony. There is a strong positive feeling working in an organization where one does not have to be guarded in what they say and do. An organization that has strong spiritual capital investments exudes positive vibes to everyone concerned. Visitors can feel the positive nature of the environment. Benefit? Employees love working here because they have pride in what the organization stands for and how it helps people, including themselves. Leadership loves working here because there is satisfaction in seeing people they lead excel.

It is clear that if leaders build a culture around what is meaningful for their people, there is a high potential for new energy release leading to creativity and innovation. Effectively, focusing on building spiritual capital brings into alignment the values of the people and those of the enterprise. This catalyzes your company for transformational change—ultimately moving to new plateaus of success.

Baldwin Tom is a management consultant, professional speaker, and author of 1+1=7: How Smart Leaders Make 7 Investments to Maximize Value. A medical school scientist, professor, leadership program developer, and founder of an award winning science and technology firm, he leverages his experiences in those fields to provide insight and strategies to fit client needs. Baldwin is a Certified Management Consultant and served as the National Board Chair of the Institute of Management Consultants USA. For more information on Baldwin Tom, please visit www.geoddgroup.com.

“Disciplining” Adults is Just Wrong

By Sue Bingham

Sue BinghamIt’s a great irony that the discipline policy preferred by most companies is called “progressive”. Since the word progressive means “making favorable progress or change” nothing could be further from the truth.

The progressive discipline policy is about punishment not improvement.Punishment expects employee performance to improve by treating the employee progressively worse. Click To Tweet

This senseless and de-humanizing process was created to protect companies from adverse legal rulings, and mostly at the advice of legal counsel. The irony is that a claim or charge can be adjudicated in favor of the employee—not because of what the terminated employee has or hasn’t done— but because the company failed to follow the myriad details outlined in its own policies.

Most managers denounce their company’s progressive discipline policy as lengthy, over-engineered and ineffective. For the bad apple who shouldn’t have been hired in the first place, this process takes far too long. And the small minority of abusers use the policy like a playbook, and keep ahead of the game by changing the performance issue that is violated. They also know the time required for the last warning to be removed— so they can do it again. Here’s how it works…

Progressive Discipline Policies

Typically, progressive discipline policies are comprised of steps, with each step involving an employee and his/her manager and eventually witnesses. In each step, the communication is routinely one-way and parent-child, ending with the threat: “Failure to improve will result in further disciplinary action up to and including termination”.

  • Step One is a verbal warning. That’s an interesting term—verbal warning—because it’s often documented. And the word “warning” is correct because the discussion ends with a threat. The angry employee then leaves (often after being asked to sign the written verbal warning).
  • Step Two is just like step one but is now called a written warning. Again it ends with a threat (in a more serious tone) and the angry, dispirited or apathetic employee again leaves after being asked to sign the warning.
  • Step Three varies among companies. It may be a second written warning or an unpaid suspension from work. The employee is sent home (which seems much like sending a child to his room), and the employee and his family are being punished because the company is withholding pay.
  • Some companies even have a Step Four—a third and FINAL written warning. This is usually a tense and negative interaction between the manager and employee. It exists to create a paper trail that will hold up in an unemployment claim or court of law once the employee is terminated (at this stage the decision has already been made to fire the employee).

Punishment is not instructive. It cannot teach a new behavior or solve a problem. The improvement or desired behavior will never be permanently learned unless an employee and his supervisor work together to solve the problem.

In most traditional companies, equipment is treated better than employees. Using a progressive disciplinary approach is like banging on a machine to make it run better.

A Better Way

Assume that the vast majority of employees are good people who want the company to succeed. They are adults who own homes, raise children and serve in their communities. If a problem develops and is brought to their attention, their desire is to solve it.

A performance coaching approach is based on this assumption. If a problem arises, those involved will want to solve it. This coaching meeting has an agenda the manager partially prepares in advance to be clear and concise about the problem. When prepared, the manager can state the issue, usually in under fifteen seconds, and then ask, “What’s going on?” This turns the problem-solving conversation immediately over to the employee to discover the cause of the performance issue.

This is not a “step” process. This is an adult conversation that ends depending on how the employee responds.

  • Cooperative: If the employee is cooperative (most are), he accepts responsibility and offers an action or commitment to address the cause—problem solved! The action or solution is not provided by the manager. The manager facilitates the employee’s plan.
  • Uncooperative: The employee may be uncooperative, meaning he isn’t forthcoming regarding the cause, blames others or simply avoids responding as an adult to the manager’s questions. When this happens, the manager reflects what she’s seeing and hearing. Most people become cooperative at this point. If not, the manager will ask the employee to go home for the rest of the day. Unlike a suspension, this time off is paid because the employee’s job that day is to decide about his employment. Is this a job he wants? Can he meet expectations? If so, he is expected to return with a sincere commitment statement or plan of action. If the employee determines the job is not for him, the company processes his resignation. (A surprising number of people make the decision to change).
  • Disrespectful: Occasionally an employee can go beyond uncooperative and become downright disrespectful. There is no room for disrespectful behavior in this process. The manager reflects what she’s seeing or hearing, and if the employee continues to be disrespectful, the manager ends the meeting. The employee is sent home and informed that the manager will call him in the morning to let him know if he still has a job.

In all three instances, the problem is solved—usually with less than two conversations.

This process does have documentation. When a manager lacks confidence that the improvement will be made, a letter is sent to the employee that documents both sides of the conversation including the employee’s plan of action . It is kept in a company file. When the employee’s response results in resignation or termination, a report detailing the conversation(s) is submitted.

With this approach, the legal process is now focused on the employee’s response and subsequent actions versus whether the detailed progressive discipline steps were followed by the company.

As competition for good people becomes more intense, companies that treat their employees with respect, and as adults, gain the advantage. Managers are then free to use the leadership, judgment and communication skills for which they’re paid.

Sue Bingham is the founder of the HPWP Group, a master coach, speaker, and author of the book, Creating The High Performance Work Place: It’s Not Complicated to Develop a Culture of Commitment. At the forefront of the positive business movement, Sue supports leaders as they achieve their vision of success, and designs common-sense systems that make people and organizations more effective. For more information about Sue Bingham, please visit: www.HPWPGroup.com.