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Stop Questioning Yourself with Irritating Employees. Do This, Then Make a Decision!

Are you irritated with an employee? Then make a decision.

Before you do, ask questions. Start with a conversation—one on one.  Not an argument.  Not finger-pointing or yelling.  Make an agreement that it is important to talk, calmly with the intent to understand before you take next steps.

Ask the employee about their behavior.  Why?  Listen with the intent to understand. Ask questions if you don’t.   State and re-state their position and ask them if you are clear. If not, then keep re-stating until they agree that you understand.  It’s not necessary that you agree with them, only that you understand.

If they have convinced you that they have a great point, you may have a different decision. Maybe your policy is outdated and unnecessary. Perhaps your supervisor handled the situation wrong. Possibly you need to make some changes in leadership training, or a change in policy. If you do, then make those changes. Don’t allow a B’rule (bull shit rule) or poor leadership skills to continue undermining your culture. 

Otherwise, it’s your turn. Ask the employee to give you the same courtesy you gave them. Remind them that it is not necessary that they agree with you, only that they understand. Thank your employee for helping you understand their position. Now, explain your position and why their behavior is a problem. You might even help them know the bigger picture. How does their behavior impact the other employees, the customer, and your company? Suggest that they ask you questions until they can re-state it to your satisfaction. And then make your decision.

Possibly the employee understands your position.  Maybe it is a combination.  Regardless, if the great news is that the employee can be saved be sure that you move forward with an agreement of next steps and expectations.  And then, help them succeed. Document your agreement, suggest they let you know if you can support them, and schedule a review date to see how things are progressing.  If they can walk out of your office on the same page, you may have an employee who is more engaged than ever!

Leading employees is not easy. Decisions can be difficult. Be sure to understand your needs to serve your customer and your employee’s needs.   Not making a decision is a decision – and you are your decisions.  Simply be sure that you understand before you choose the right move.   

Dr. Stephen R. Covey said,

“If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Of course, there may be other considerations. Check in with your HR Department or get legal advice if needed but make decisions. Allowing bad policy or poor performers to continue bad behavior will only tear down your organization. 

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