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July 2009


Effectively Handling Counseling and Discipline

From time to time every employee on your staff will need counseling on their performance.  It is not if, but when.  How can you effectively help an individual improve or correct performance?  Try these strategies.

Key Strategies

1. Set Clear Expectations

Let every employee know what is expected of him or her in clear behavioral terms.  More than once is required, and in more than one way.  Tell them individually, tell them as a team, confirm your conversation with a written follow-up, chart progress in both public and private, meet periodically with individuals and teams to review progress and ways to improve and enhance performance.

2. Remember Reciprocity

Whatever you do to your employees they will do to each other, to their subordinates, and to your best customers.  What goes around comes around.  So, when you need to counsel them be a human, not a machine. 

Most companies are interested in keeping the employee on board.  But they often approach the counseling interview in an adversarial way, with a negative attitude and threats to support their performance demands.  Don't.

3. Intent vs. Impact

Don't assume the intent behind any action of another person.  You are not a mind reader, and you don't get paid to analyze the intentions of your employees.  You get paid to help them maintain and improve their performance (the impact that their behaviors have on others).

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Let each person know you are not as concerned with their intentions as you are with positive behaviors that lead to good habits and to improved performance.

4. The "I” Message

Focus on their behaviors by communicating in the following form:

When you _____________________________
                              (state the behavior)

I feel __________________________________
           (tell them how the behavior affects you)

I would prefer __________________________
                         (describe the desired behavior)

5. Develop And Document A Plan

Only 3% of Americans have written goals.  Those 3% tend to out earn the other 97% by a factor of 10.  Imagine how great their performance must be to accomplish that.

Work with each employee to design and implement a written, goal oriented action plan.  Action should begin within one week (one day if possible), no matter how small or insignificant the first step may seem, it is still a first step.  They have to start somewhere.



For information concerning
SMBC Incorporated contact:

Lou Carloni
Web Page Updated by:
Shannon Bernadzikowski

© SMBC Incorporated  2007