Recently a survey was posted asking individuals to describe what they do in two words. After a moments’ thought, I responded “Drama Exterminator.” As an HR professional, that’s often the crux of what I do. Drama in the workforce can be virtually eliminated simply by clear communication.
In companies where retention is a problem and productivity has slowed, there can be a corresponding lack of clarity in people’s roles and expectations. I’ve encountered many managers who have no problem standing up in a conference room and presenting information or negotiating with a client, but they simply cannot face the idea of having a one-on-one with an individual on their team to discuss an issue with performance.
Why is that so hard? Because no one likes delivering bad news; we enjoy passing out bonuses or complementing people on jobs done well, but we want to stick our head in the sand if someone isn’t performing as well as we need. And yet, the worst thing we can do for that person is to ignore the issue.
Most people would agree that if they were doing something wrong or if there was something that could affect their future, they’d want to know. And if we speak up as soon as a problem is noted, it could be easily solved by additional training or clearer understanding of the expectations. Instead, we wait until we’re completely frustrated by the issue and then tend to overreact.
Are your expectations clear and well communicated or is there a lot open to interpretation? Do your policies contradict each other and lead to confusion? How often do you talk with each of your employees to discuss overall performance? If any of these are issues or if you only talk with any of your employees at the annual review time, that’s a problem.
Speak up! If there’s an issue, approach the employee nonjudgmentally, asking if they’re aware of the different expectations/processes and see what they have to say! You may learn something that can help others! Or you may learn something that can better lead that employee to success. And if there’s still a problem, this gives you the opportunity to help that employee turn things around. If they choose a different path, that’s their prerogative, but at least you know you’ve been clear with your expectations.
Isn’t that what you would want?