PICTURE THIS: You receive word that one of your employees might have screwed up.
Naturally, your job is to get to the bottom the situation.
So, you invite her into your office. You close the door and she takes a seat.
As you sit down, you can already identify an aura of defensiveness in the air. Maybe even a little guilt.
So. What’s your approach?
FOUR WORDS: Say what you see.
That means observe, don’t accuse.
Or else she won’t open up to you.
That means insinuate; don’t impose.
Or else she’ll feel even more defensive.
That means describe; don’t prescribe.
Or else she’ll think you’re trying to “fix” her.
Here are three hypothetical examples:
DON’T SAY: “Your third quarter sales were the lowest at our entire branch!”
DO SAY: “It looks like your third quarter sales were lower than normal.”
DON’T SAY: “Why do you come in 15 minutes late EVERY day?”
DO SAY: “I noticed on your time card that you’ve been clocking in at about 8:15 lately.”
DON’T SAY: “Way to piss off the people who pay our bills, dumbass!”
DO SAY: “I see that one of our customers gave you a pretty hostile evaluation.”
See, by objectively “saying what you see,” your words empower the employee in three ways:
1. They enable her to respond.
2. They allow her to clarify the situation.
3. They let her take ownership of the problem.
So, next time you need to approach one of your employees about a mistake they’ve made, remember to use language that is:
o Non-comparison based
o Emotionally unreactive
o A statement of observation
o An impartial piece of feedback
o Non-challenging to someone’s character or attitude
Say what you see.
That way, maybe your employees will help you see it better!
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your secret for staying objective when approaching employees?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called “79 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask,” send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll take care of ya!
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That Guy with the Nametag
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