In Renee’s initial post, she described the tolerances in our lives surrounding more of an external factor, such as an employee who isn’t performing at a high of a level as you anticipated. Then Seth has taught us how to recognize and identify what tolerances may be going on in our lives. Those tolerances may include both internal and external factors. After going through that exercise, Kayla helped us to be aware of the tolls that they are taking on our lives.
In this post, I am going to focus more on how to address the external factors or forces that might be impacting your work environment.
The self-awareness conversation is not only to help make the other person aware of their actions, but for you to also be aware of how it’s affecting not just your professional, but your personal life as well.
I am going to break up this last step, reframing, into two parts:
- How to address the tolerances that you identified in regards to outside factors.
- How to focus on the personal side of your struggle.
So with that said, it’s now time to do the heavy lifting. In my experience, this is the most dreaded step. I don’t want to say it’s confrontation due to the defensive nature of that word. This is not meant to put people in a defensive mode, but to be made aware of the situation. Let’s build on that and look at it as a “self-awareness conversation”.
Now before we move to the last and final step and reframe things, look over the completed worksheet that Seth provided in the earlier post.
In completing the worksheet, you might have identified things that you weren’t as aware of as you thought you were. You need to decide what items are annoying itches versus those that are complete deal-breakers for how you intend to move forward.
Decide what items are annoying itches and which are complete deal-breakers, then move to next paragraph.
Now that you have decided which are the most pertinent to addressing, we are ready to tackle the reframing. The key to remember throughout the process is that you can only control what is in your circle of influence. Here are some steps to clearing tolerances when it is a direct report or even a colleague that you are working on projects together:
Voicing your frustration
It’s time to sit down with the person and have that dreaded conversation. Be sure you block out time on both yours and their calendar so interruptions and distractions are avoided. And by scheduling the meeting, you are more likely to have a clear mind and not have the conversation in the heat of a tolerance that just drove you crazy! Before the meeting, be sure to write out your talking points with what you have been tolerating and the impact that has on their performance, the company, and your desire (or decreasing lack thereof) to help develop them or achieve the project goal. People may not be aware of the ripple effect their actions are having. This will help to keep the conversation on track and deliberate. Be sure to clearly identify in your talking points what you will and will not tolerate!
Document, document, document
After the meeting, send a recap email to the employee covering what was discussed and agreed upon in respect to correcting those tolerances. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself and put in the HR employee file for future reference. In the email, make sure to identify the timeline of when corrections should be occurring and what the follow up might look like. The follow up needs to address a timeline for development touchpoints as well as potential consequences if changes don’t happen.
Stick to your guns
This is the most important step (in my opinion, anyway). You can talk until you run out of air or threaten until pigs start flying but if you don’t follow through with what you have laid out, you will never be taken seriously and the cycle will continue. Do any of us like having hard conversations and having to make life altering decisions for others? Nope. Not a chance. The truth of the matter is that this probably isn’t the first time the employee has been spoken to regarding these things. Or maybe they have respect for you that they never had for a previous manager. It’s okay to give someone a second chance. It’s not okay to sit back and let someone walk all over you because they “don’t know any better”. Be sure to stick to those guns for the developmental plan as well. If the employee is responding and you laid out a development plan, they deserve your attention and focus just as much for the positive as for the negative. Maybe even more so.
This is going to be tough. And it might even seem like it’s making you feel even worse or dread the days more. That’s why you need to keep the big picture in focus. What are you willing to tolerate long-term? What are careless mistakes versus blatant laziness and disregard for you or the company?
Learning your tolerances and addressing them is beyond uncomfortable. Not only because none of us like to think about how we missed the mark but also because it’s developing a new habit. It’s okay to stumble, just remember to not give up!