Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Stuff happens! Attendance, behaviour, performance issues, are frustrating, and try the patience of Supervisory Managers. Issues are often complex with high consequences. Here are a few quick reference notes to manage them effectively.

1. Calm down! Act, don’t react! These cases will test your patience, but an angry response can be destructive and expensive. Manage situations well, by following this step one.

2. Knowledge is power. When a problem occurs, quickly find out what really happened, and why. (The more you know, the better you can understand why the employee acted as they did. It may be exactly what it appeared to start with, but at least now you know, and have given them an opportunity to explain their actions.)

3. Consult your resources early (e.g. Senior Management, HR, Colleagues, trusted senior employees) as required. It helps confirm issues, generate ideas, options and plans. It also costs less in both money and long term employee relations impacts.

4. Meet with the employee. Listen to get their understanding of the situation and possible explanations, before deciding what to do. They may have acted poorly, but felt they had a reason. That still may not justify it, but at least you know why. As a result,
     • You make wiser decisions, after listening, and,
     • You gain credibility by listening before you decide.

5. In discussion, clarify expectations (attendance, behaviour, performance, etc) with employees, and confirm how soon changes need to occur. (e.g. right now, this week, this month, etc)

6. Document your discussion. This confirms that,
     • The employee was advised of the issue,
     • Expectations were stated, and,
     • Potential consequences were discussed.

It also supports any action you decide to take in the future.

7. Punishment should fit the crime.
     • Minor, less frequent infractions normally involve less stringent actions than major errors,
(e.g. where the employee clearly should really know better), also,
     • Does the employee have some credit with you based on previous good performance or, does their past record include a continued series of problems and issues?
     • What is our opportunity to salvage the situation?
(Do you gain most by coaching or punishing?)

8. Track and follow up on progress towards the expectations you have set.
(Even well motivated employees, who have problems, may be unsuccessful in
changing immediately, while poor ones may have no intention of changing.)

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