Developing Confronting Direct Reports As a Competency
Confronting direct reports results in better consequences for organizations and for leaders themselves. Leaders who regularly confront problem employees tend to achieve better overall team performance. They’re also more likely to get upgraded There are many reasons why confronting problem employees improves results. In some cases, it can result in positive behavioral changes. It may also indicate to others what effective behavior looks like, and it indicates that managers are paying attention to the performance of the team. Other group members may be more motivated if they know problem employees are being properly dealt with, rather than being ignored or left to decrease the work and morale of the team.
There are several mistakes managers make while confronting direct reports. Some of them are –
- Not comfortable presenting negative messages to direct reports.
- Prolong and avoid problems until forced to act.
- May not communicate clear principles or provide much feedback.
- Let problems gather hoping they will go away.
- May surrender too soon to excuses.
- May give people too many opportunities.
- Can’t execute even when all else has failed.
- Have low standards or have preferences.
- Putting blame on someone without understanding the situation.
- Tend to keep away from confrontation altogether.
- a discussion without having a proper approach.
- Listing complaints without allowing the direct report to express his point of view.
- Think it is someone else’s responsibility.
- Don’t know how to develop people.
- Don’t follow up well.
While confronting direct reports is never fun, it can be done with diplomacy and result in changed behaviors. Skilled managers –
- Deal with problem direct reports rigidly and in a timely manner.
- Don’t allow problems to gather.
- Regularly analyze performance and holds timely discussions.
- Can make negative decisions when all other attempts fail.
- Deal with the problem in an effective manner.
- Have a formal discussion with the employee.
- Give the employees the chance to give their account of the incident and are willing to hear their outlook .
Overused Skill –
Some leaders overuse their skills. They –
- May be too fast to act on problem direct reports.
- May not put enough improvement efforts toward the problem.
- May expect reversals in too short a time.
- May expect miracles.
- May lay stress on the development of a few.
- May create work unfairness as challenging assignments are distributed.
- May be too much optimistic about how much people can develop.
- May approve the latest developmental trend within the organization and cooperate with the system even when it doesn’t make sense for an individual.
The Map –
Most organizations are running unproductive today. With hasty changes and team-based efforts increasing, problem performers can’t be concealed as they often were in the past. Overcoming your hesitation to deal with them is a key to your crew’s performance and probably your career as well. Managers who exceed in confronting direct reports are timely, dependable, focus on performance gaps, come forward and help the employee succeed, and are sensitive to how the employees feels. But if the effort fails, taking timely but sympathetic action to separate the person from the organization is the real test of management courage.
Most people want to grow and progress, aspire to do well and be rewarded with more salary and higher positions. They have dreams and goals they want to achieve. For this they need to be ambitious and willing to do what is needed to grow and progress. The organization must have a process in place to help those who want to grow. The employer must be an active player or development won’t happen. Without the employee’s time, interest and effort, employees will not grow much. They can’t develop themselves without help.
How To Confront Direct Reports In A Subtle Manner
Some Remedies –
- Most Problem Performers Are Unaware – Managers hate to deliver bad news to employees, face to face. Sometimes problem employees do not get the feedback they need to solve performance problems. Women, minorities and older people get the least. Most people who are fired or take resignation have had satisfactory or high-performance evaluations up to the point of leaving. It’s difficult to be the bearer of bad news. Emotions and defensiveness may explode. The results could be severe. You may have to defend your actions inside and outside the organization. In the long term, it’s ruthless and unusual punishment not to deliver fair but direct feedback to someone who is struggling or failing. Otherwise they can’t work on the problems and plan their career. The key to overcoming unwillingness is to focus on fairly applied and communicated standards and on gaps between expected and actual performances.
- Creating and Communicating Standards – The problem employees get confused and don’t know what is expected of them if employers communicate to some and not to others. Leaders may have given up on some and stopped communicating or may think they would know what to do if they’re any good, but that’s not really true because leaders have not properly communicated what they want. The first task is to outline the key results areas and what indicators of success would be. Provide them with a way to measure their own development. Employees with goals and standards are usually harder on themselves than leaders will ever be. Often, they set higher standards than leaders would.
- Realism – Problem employees are not performing up to standard, then leaders need to be more strategic and improve their interpersonal skills and be less arrogant. Analyze on how long it took leaders to become proficient at what they are criticizing the employees for. Managers usually hesitate delivering negative messages and stay away from confronting direct reports. They need to get to people as soon as they do not meet agreed upon standards of performance. They should not wait. Early is the easiest time to do it with the highest return on investment for managers, direct reports and the organization. Most people who have reached the problem performer status will take some time to turn around under the best of circumstances.
- Document Process – Once the managers realize that a direct report just isn’t making it, they need to document their observations against the standards. Whenever they are having significant problems with an employee, they need to write down the key points. Sometimes managers couldn’t let a difficult employee go because they had no record of his or her bad behavior. Usually this lack of documentation arises out of misplaced hopefulness; that the managers didn’t want to be too negative about the problem employee. Effective managers know that documentation isn’t negative, it’s sensible.
- Go in With an Improvement Plan – Don’t criticize without a way out and a plan. Tell the person what you expect and don’t expect them to guess, and don’t spend a lot of time discussing the past. Suggest steps to solve the problem. Be positive but firm and constructive. Be optimistic in the beginning and help the problem employees see the negative consequences. Improvement starts with seeing an unacceptable consequence and a way out.
- Listen – Managers often stop paying attention to what’s going while confronting problem employees. They become irritated and it seems hopeless, so they just turn our attention to other things. But effective managers get very attentive when someone’s not doing well. They know how to improve the situation, including knowing the problem employee’s point of view. In some cases, simply listening can solve the problem. The problem employee may start acting in a different manner altogether once he or she feels heard.
- Give Clear, Behavioral Feedback – Most managers will spend much time complaining about problem employees and not ever giving them actual feedback about what they need to be doing differently. Giving difficult feedback is one of the most uncomfortable things a manager must do. But good managers learn to do to it reasonably well. This lowers the employees’ defensiveness and gives them the specific information they need in order to improve.
- Defense Condition – Emotions can run high and may truly be a surprise to the problem employees. Don’t take too seriously what people say in that first meeting that this person is running on emotion. Anticipate what the person might say and have responses ready. Remain composed and do not use words you might regret later. If the person is not composed, don’t respond. Just let the person vent or even cry, then return to the problem later. If a manager to knock someone down, he can still lay stress on how the problem employees feels or they can help pick them up later when the discussion turns more positive.
- The Next Day – The manager should see the person the next day. Ask him how he feels and allow him to talk. Indicate that you will help him, and it is your job to remove obstacles to performance, provide information and support, provide structure and advice on how, but don’t tell the person how to do it, and be available for any trouble. Try to maintain a closer relationship after the event. If the person feels wrecked, the situation can turn hopeless. Schedule regular checkpoints to track progress. If possible, in future, ask the person for feedback on you as a manager.
- The Two- Minute Warning – This is the last chance for the problem employee who isn’t really trying. You may have to pull someone aside after a few months and tell him that you understand all his issues and have tried to help him, but he isn’t doing what they had agreed upon. You might have to ask him if he is committed or not. While dealing with the conflict the manager needs to focus on the problem, not the person and try one last time to help. Note the person’s concerns or description of what’s getting in the way but don’t admit anything. Be clear since now is not the time for negotiation. Give the person time to think it over and come in with a believable performance improvement plan.
When it comes to confronting direct reports, it can be frightening out there for leaders. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be so difficult, and if leaders stop making some highly unfortunate communication mistakes, it can get a whole lot easier. They can make things easier for their employees and themselves by addressing issues as soon as they arise in a short and sweet manner, free of the emotional load. Leaders need to be direct with your employees, so they have clear action steps for what to do next. When confronting direct reports, leaders must tell them what’s at stake and that they wish to resolve this, working with them to ensure a plan is in place. By eradicating some common errors, and with a little practice, difficult conversations don’t have to be frightful. They can, in fact, become probabilities to improve everyone’s performance. When leaders get comfortable with confrontation, their employees will follow suit.