Whether you’re a business owner or manage a team, working with people has its up’s and downs. There will be times when you need to address a difficult issue with a team member; it could be performance related, behavioural issues or even body hygiene issues. They have to be dealt with.

Two key things to remember in these situations are, 1. Act quickly, prepare for the conversation and hold it as soon as possible.  2. Focus on the issue, do not attack the person.

The What, Why, How formula is the best way to work through having this difficult discussion. During the conversation you need to be an excellent listener and show empathy as this will enable you to get to the real problem.

  1. What? In a clear and concise manner, you need to describe what the performance, behaviour or other issues are. (Over the past 3 months you have had at least one sick day each week, mostly on a Monday).
  2. Why? You need to describe why the issue is a problem. (This creates a problem for the team as other members have to cover the front counter, which in turn means they are unable to complete their jobs on time.)
  3. How? Explain how this issue effects the business and the people involved. (This in turn slows down our production; it means non sales staff have to serve our customers, both resulting in poor customer service and reduced sales.)
  4. Let them know that the situation has to change. They need to be aware that the problem cannot continue and that there has to be a change.
  5. Ask for the employee’s help in finding a solution to the problem. You now need to involve them is resolving the issue.
  6. Work together to look for different ways on how to resolve the issue. There will be more than one way to rectify the problem, together you will come up with a variety of solutions.
  7. Identify the most appropriate solution. Review each idea and determine which will work the best.
  8. Ask what you can do to help implementing the solution. You need to be involved in the solution, it may be extra training required, a change in start and finish times etc. 
  9. Set an agreed time frame to follow up. There has to be a time frame set for the issue to be resolved and you need to follow up at the agreed time frame to ensure it is resolved. You must always Inspect what you Expect.

There may be an occasion when this process does not rectify the issue, or the employee may not be prepared to accept there is an issue. At this point you will then need to escalate it to a more formal process which may lead to termination if the issue cannot be resolved.

Termination should be furthest from your mind in this process. Your team members were selected because in the interview process, they were deemed to be the best person for the role. Working through this process in a dedicated manner, focused on resolving the issue is the only way to act.

Have a great week,