February 2015

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February 2015 | Construction Equipment Distribution | www.cedmag.com | 49 >> SMART HR KARLA DOBBECK Coach for Skills – Discipline for Behaviors Build trust and develop better performance by using the right approach for adverse situations. W orking with employees who just don't 'get it' can be frustrating! When this happens, the first reaction for many supervisors and managers is to issue a written warning. But in the long-run, a written warn- ing isn't going to help the employee improve; instead, a written warning will probably intimidate someone who is already struggling in their responsibilities. Instead of rushing to judgment and 'react- ing,' try a more proactive approach. Use the opportunity to coach and develop the employee using a step-by-step plan. ink about it, would you rather work for a tyrant or a mentor? Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) have several key components. ey identify the 'as is' and the 'should be.' ey include a measure- ment to ensure the improvement has been made, a timeframe for the end result, and most importantly, action steps the employee can take to reach the objective. Most people really do want to do a good job and feel a sense of accomplishment when their work is improved. To help the employee see the problem from your perspective, make sure to have examples of poor performance to share. Once the employee understands, he or she will be more likely to embrace new methods and learn new things. Don't make the mistake of sitting back and waiting for the employee to fail. Instead, set up check-in times to meet and see how the improve- ment is progressing. Any electronic calendar will allow you to set up reminders and appointments. When meeting, check to see if there are obstacles in the way and if there are, help your employee remove or work around them. Be flexible – if your original plan isn't work- ing for the employee, develop a new one. Also, make sure to praise your employee for small improvements along the way. Everyone likes to hear they are doing a good job, and positive reinforcement should lead to more improvements. A Different Approach for Behavior On the other-hand, if the problem is behavioral, coaching might not be the best approach. Most companies have policies such as attendance, dress code, drug/alcohol use, inappropriate behavior, confidentiality, and so on. When an employee does not meet these expectations, it is his/her choice. Behavioral issues are better addressed through discipline. When disciplining, there are a few simple things to keep in mind. Please do it in private. And while a signature on the warning is preferable, there are other ways to prove the conversation took place. If the employee refuses to sign a warning, call in another manager to witness the employee's refusal. Or, send a recap e-mail to the employee outlining the conversation with the warning attached, or send a certified letter to the employee's home with the warning included. Say what it is. If issuing a verbal warning, you might want to make a note of it but don't put a 'warning' in the employee's file. If you do, it really isn't a verbal warning – it is a written warning! Also, be sure to state consequences in the event the behavior continues, and then follow through if necessary. In the end, if you terminate and the employee knew his or her behavior would lead to termination, you are in a stronger position in case of a legal challenge. Only issue a final warning if the next step is termination. If you issue several "final warnings" the unemployment office will ask why this final warning was different than the first final warn- ing and probably allow benefits. By using coaching techniques and only disciplining at appropriate times, you will find you have the skills needed to develop great employees while weeding out the problems. Your employees will begin to trust you more as a manager and also respect the fact that you recognize the difference when it comes to performance versus behavioral issues. KARLA DOBBECK, founder of Human Resource Techniques, Inc. based in suburban Chicago, and manages AED's HR Help Desk, a free hotline for members that also offers reduced fees for a wide range of services, including employee handbooks. She can be reached at 847- 289-4504, karlad@hrtechniques.biz. Or visit her website at hrtechniques.biz. Think about it, would you rather work for a tyrant or a mentor?

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