August 23, 2013
According to research by global organizations, one of the most common mistakes made by supervisors (and managers) is avoiding having difficult discussions with their employees. With over 20 years of experience delivering supervisory training, our team can attest to the validity of this research. Unfortunately, this avoidance has a negative impact on the business, on the supervisor and on the employee.
A difficult discussion by definition is one in which the supervisors needs to tell employees that they need to do behave differently or improve performance. It is completely understandable that supervisors would avoid these discussions because they are discussing personal behaviors and skills with someone who may or may not take the news positively. Many times, supervisors rationalize this avoidance by thinking the problem will go away on its own. 99% of the time, the problem not only doesn’t go away, it gets worse.
Impact on the Business
When supervisors avoid having difficult discussions, there are many negative impacts on the business. If what the employee does affects the customer at all, this may be your most important concern. Not addressing something that could damage customer relationships or impact a customer’s decision to buy or buy again, will hurt your bottom line.
Avoiding difficult discussions also affects employee morale and productivity. If an employee is behaving inappropriately and it is not being addressed, your other employees can get frustrated and become less productive because they are focused the negative energy of the employee who’s behavior is not being addressed.
Impact on the Supervisor
When supervisors avoid having these discussions, it actually adds an additional level of stress to their day because they know they need to have the discussion and often get distracted by their avoidance. Supervisors can lose productivity and even make mistakes because it is constantly on their mind. If the discussion being avoided is about a mistake an employee continually makes, supervisors lose time fixing the mistake. If the discussion they are avoiding is about absenteeism or lateness, the entire team’s productivity may be at risk.
Impact on the Employee
Both the “ideal” and the “not so ideal” employees feel the impact of supervisors avoiding performance discussions. “Ideal” employees want to know how they can do a better job or make a better impact on the team. By avoiding discussions with the ideal employee, the supervisor is having a negative impact on the employee’s career, development and overall job satisfaction. If the employees are “not ideal” , meaning they are poor performers, border on insubordination or are difficult to work with, avoiding these discussions enable the employees to think that what they are doing is okay. They then get very confused when they don’t get a raise or don’t get the promotion for which they applied. They complain to other employees and bring their morale and the morale of others around them down.
What is the best approach to having these discussions?
Taking the four steps above can help supervisors approach discussions confidently and positively which will drive positive business results.
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