This week a client (the boss) used the techniques she had learned around providing difficult feedback and I was thrilled to hear how she made it work.
Recently she hired a part-time employee. After an initial month that she chalked up to learning curve, the employee’s performance was just not aligning with my client’s expectations. This happens a lot. You know the feeling when you let a few things slide because it would seem picky to mention them, then you realize you are way off track and it feels too late to change it. That’s where she was. My client had to plan a talk. Here are some rules of the road:
- Reserve the time, create a private space and keep the “Can we talk?” light.
- Give the person the benefit of the doubt, even if you can’t see it right now.
- Consider the person’s style and preferences. In this case, the employee was very forthright and fact based, not emotional. The boss did her best to mirror the style.
- Expectations are so important to define at the start! The boss realized she had made all sorts of assumptions about what the new hire “should know” about the job. But the version of the job the new hire had done in the past was very different to what the boss needed.
- Go even deeper with style preferences. The employee shared that she likes rules so she knows where she stands. As someone with a rebellious personality my client doesn’t like others’ rules, so had been holding back on giving the hire the direction she wanted.
- You can’t fix everybody. In this case, the boss was dealing with someone hard working, mature and eager to learn. That isn’t always the case. Do your best, and don’t take on more than your share of the responsibility.