When an employee is not behaving the way we want them to, it’s easy to allow ego, peer pressure, impatience or a lack of emotional intelligence to convince us it’s OK to impose our will on them in the moment. After all, they are wrong and we know how to fix it right? This could apply to anyone, a child, a friend, spouse, or an employee. But for our purposes it is an employee.
Here’s the natural law: Your best chance at reaching them is under favorable conditions. In my experience there are times to teach and a times not to teach. When relationships are strained and the air is charged with emotion, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgement or rejection. But, to approach the person, quietly, when the relationship is good, to discuss the teaching or the principle then, has much greater impact.
This leads to a greater understanding of what was driving the behavior, and in turn everyone learns and grows from the experience. Even better – learn to anticipate the things that can and will inevitably go wrong and insert them into your training routines.
Here’s a little exercise to lock in the learning. Make a list of three common problems that occur regularly and design a plan to talk about them before they happen. Some examples might be – being short with a customer, not following a system consistently, or making a mental mistake that results in a costly do over. Talk in advance about your expectation, and why it’s important to you that its handled in a certain way – what’s in it for them for doing so, and how that lines up with your shared principles. Also, agree in advance on the best way to feedback their performance to them so they can keep improving and become a more effective member of your team.