I was asked today how I would handle a disciplinary issue with an employee

I thought about this question for a few moments. Do I use a formula? Do I have specific steps that I have memorized? What do I do? I have a conversation with the employee, plain and simple. We sit down for a respectful conversation and I explore what I could be doing to help this person succeed. Do they need more resources to excel at their work? Do they have roadblocks in the way of doing an exceptional job? Have I provided clear and unambiguous expectations? Does this person know what success looks like? Only after exploring a variety of issues, all of which I have control over, do I then explore what the employee brings to the table as far as baggage. And what kind of baggage am I looking for? Willingness and ableness to do the work assigned. If a person is willing and able, I can teach them to be successful at almost anything. But none of this happens without simply sitting down and talking.

Just think how you feel when you are called into someone’s office that has the power to remove you from your position? Regardless of how you feel personally about the person, the person does have this power over you. If they threaten and attack you, my guess is that you close down, don’t listen, or if you do listen, you are fuming. You are investing all of your energy guarding, defending, protecting, and maintaining. There will be no resolution. And of course this person who has power over you is absolutely not accountable for their decisions and actions. It is all your fault. I would love to be inside your heart right now and feel what you are feeling. My guess is that you have relived situations just like this.

Now imagine this same person asking you to sit down for a respectful conversation. You talk, he/she asks questions, understanding develops, and learning happens. You both explore your part in the issue at hand. No ego driving the process just a sincere desire to establish understanding and a resolution that will be shared and actually work. Good for the people and good for the enterprise. This is what conversation is all about.

Create learning conversations with your team members and build respectful relationships. Happy conversations.

John

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