A friend of mine, recently earned a promotion to manage another office location. As a part of her transition, the owners of the company briefed her on the employees that she will be leading at this location. As a result, she was given a “heads up” that one of the employees that has worked for the company for over two years, has a bad attitude and will probably need to be fired soon.
My friend found out that there hasn’t been any formal feedback given to this employee and nothing has been documented. She asked my opinion, as she is an inexperienced leader.
I am not an HR specialist. My perspective is coming from a leadership lens. However, I do know that there should be a formal process in place and documentation should be initiated. Instead of telling her what to do, I asked her a series of questions.
Questions to Consider:
- Have clearly defined goals been written for this employee?
- How has this employee’s progress been measured towards reaching specific goals?
- How would you determine how much direction and support to offer to this employegiven the goals or tasks assigned?
- Have you considered that maybe this employee has lost motivation or confidence?
- Is it possible that this employee is bored and may need some stretch goals to reignite his/her motivation?
- Is it possible that this employee has lost confidence or is frustrated because they haven’t received the right amount of direction and support to accomplish his/her goals?
- What would the conversation sound like if you wanted to find out how the employee perceives their role, needs, goals, and progress?
- How can you create a culture of open communication that fosters an environment where it is Ok for employees to come to you asking for the right amount of direction and support?
It is very possible that this employee is not a good fit for the company and may need to be fired. However, before jumping to that conclusion, shouldn’t you first consider the role of leadership in this situation? When leaders are able to consistently have alignment conversations with their team, productivity increases, turnover decreases, recruitment and training costs decrease, and team morale increases. Too often, we assume that it is the employee’s fault. However, we fail to recognize that leadership requires a different set of skills. Unfortunately, too often, leaders are not getting the leadership development training they need. This is resulting in real costs to companies. I believe many companies set leaders up for failure by assuming that they know how to lead. Leadership development has to be an intentional journey, focusing on the learning and application of leadership skills, over time, and in different situations.
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