What Not To Do

24 Mar
by Bridget DiCello

Are there things that you would like your employees to stop doing?  Do you tell them to stop doing those things?  Do they hear you?  Do they change their behavior?

It is critically important to pinpoint specific behaviors that you wish would stop.  “You better change your bad attitude!” is a personal attack and not specific enough.  Instead, “When you are in the staff meeting, I see you roll your eyes, exude an audible sigh and cross your arms at an idea you do not like.  This is not an acceptable response from any member of the team.”  The employee must be confronted about behaviors you see an unacceptable.

However, it cannot stop there.  As critical as it is to pinpoint what the unacceptable behavior specifically looks like, you must do more than that!

You must tell them what you wish for them to do instead.

Can’t they figure that out on their own?

·         Maybe, but if they knew what to do or how to act more professionally, they might be doing it already.  “Really, boss, when Sam brings up such an outrageous idea, I just react that way naturally.  What do you expect me to do when he is saying dumb stuff?”

They know what to do. They are just being difficult and not doing it.

·         If this is the case, then when you given them specific behaviors you wish to see instead, you can hold them accountable to these firm expected behaviors.  Otherwise, instead of them not doing annoying behavior #1 (eye rolls, sigh, crossed arms), which you asked them to stop, they do annoying behavior #2 (laugh and start texting).

I don’t have the time to explain every little thing they need to do!

·         Then teach them to think.  Ask them a question or two, get them thinking and next time, you can expect them to think a bit more about what they are doing.  “How do you think it affects the rest of the team when you roll your eyes, sigh and cross your arms?”  “What could you do to control your reaction and your outward appearance?”

There are times when a small situation may simply require that you communicate to the employee that a specific behavior was unacceptable and they should not do it again.  But chances are that there are more chronic behaviors employees exhibit that you do not like, and those will never be corrected without a conversation about what they are to do instead.

“If you think an idea is not credible, take a second to think before you respond, stop and take note of what you are doing with your eyes, voice and arms.  Keep your arms open and on the table, your voice silent and your eyes on your notepad.  It may also help to jot down in your notes why you think the idea is crazy and address those situations with me (your supervisor) later or with the individual themselves.”

What do your employees do that you wish they would stop?  Do they know what to do instead?  Have you held them accountable to specific alternative behaviors?

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