I spoke with a client this evening who was feeling tired and under pressure. It soon became clear that the problem was being caused by one or two members of staff who she said were “dragging me down.”

After further investigation, it appeared that at the heart of the matter both people were exhibiting behaviours which were unacceptable. In fact, it wasn't the behaviours themselves which were causing the leach of energy, but the fact my client was not dealing with the problem.

Over the years I have found this to be a common issue. Dealing with negative attitudes or behaviours is often left by managers until it becomes impossible to ignore any more. By this time the problems are often entrenched.

I believe managers avoid dealing with the problem because they feel unsure of how to. By avoiding it in this way they are tacitly agreeing that the behaviour or attitude in question is ok. When they finally do do something, the member of staff is often surprised at their boss as nothing has been said before. The outpouring of irritation from the manager seems disproportionate to the member of staff. There is the potential for real difficulty.

Most of these problems can be easily avoided. How?

In the first instance it is important to have clear, high expectations of the staff by the manager.

How do your staff know your expectations?

Are they:
a) Expected to have them before they take up the post
b) Introduced through your formal induction programme
c) Find out by picking them up from others within the department
d) Find out by chance
e) Discover what they mean when they get negative feedback after failing, as they have no idea what is meant by your version of high expectations

Induction and ongoing training of staff is important.

An induction programme is an investment which pays huge dividends when it is done well. The sort of Induction Programme you offer gives all sorts of overt and subliminal messages to new and existing staff. For example - explicit high expectations show that professionalism and professional development have high status within your department or organization and that you value the individual.

Modelling the behaviours you want to encourage from others is a great way to demonstrate to staff what your want from them. Giving mixed messages is a sure fire way to create problems. E.g. Telling people you expect them to exhibit good meeting behaviour then shouting across and constantly interrupting them in meetings.

Constructive feedback is a powerful tool for ongoing professional development. Done well it can motivate your team, raise performance, and enhance your corporate team identity.

There is a place for feedback to be given as part of the formal monitoring Programme. It is also very useful to feed back to your team on an ongoing basis. When staff receive feedback exclusively at the point of their formal review it can leave 3 months, six months or a year between opportunities for discussion and development. Misunderstandings, poor performance tend to grow and get worse when they are left alone.

In the first instance offering feedback as part of your normal cycle may be enough. Don't forget to set up a review date.

If that process doesn't work you may need to have a “Hard Conversation”.
Be very clear this is not a competency hearing.

What is a “Hard Conversation" for?

It is about ensuring staff recognize what they are doing something unacceptable. They need to know the impact it is having on the organization, the team, you as their manager and what needs to change.

A full discussion on all of these elements including a template for having the “hard conversations” can be found in “How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively (And Pave The Way To Your Next Promotion)”


Author's Bio: 

Gina Gardiner is one of the UK's leading Leadership Coaches.
Gina supports people at individual or organizational level to develop confidence, leadership and people skills. Gina is the author of two books “Kick Start Your Career” and “How YOU Can Manage Your Staff More Effectively and is also a Neuro Linguistic Master Practitioner and a qualified coach.
To download her free management ecourse...graduatesolutions.co.uk