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I just listened to the 3 podcasts regarding late stage coaching yesterday. It's perfect timing, as I have an employee that has been spiraling downward and, quite frankly, I was about to cut him loose. In fact, I had been thinking about writing him up the 2 days previous, but hadn't done it yet. After hearing these shows, I decided that it was worth the time to try and help him instead. So, I'm going to give it a shot. You guys may have very well saved this guy's job.

The hardest part I think will be convincing my asst mgr, who I had told that I was planning to write up said individual and pretty much get rid of him. Now I think it looks to my asst like I've turned soft. But I do think that I have failed this guy and owe him another chance.

wendii's picture

Mark was kind enough to give me some one on one coaching a little while ago, and although the situation was slightly different, one piece of advice he gave me seems to apply here. I was on my last chance, and instigated a form of the one on one sessions with my report inorder to help save my situation. Mark's advice, which I wouldn't have done, was to be honest, and say, look this is my last chance, this is what I'm going we're going to do from here on, as long as I last.

I wouldn't have told my direct report I was about to be fired, but it did really work, it got her on board, it made me feel better and changed the way the situation felt for me. I'm wondering if a similar approach might work with your assistant; something like 'I won't be able to sleep at night if I didn't feel I'd done everything I could to help Bob. This is what I'm going to do' then explain technique in as much detail as you feel necessary. Hopefully your asst will identify with the feeling of guilt, and therefore help you with the technique.

Hope that helps some. Good luck.

Wendii

brd's picture

[quote="wendii"] I'm wondering if a similar approach might work with your assistant; something like 'I won't be able to sleep at night if I didn't feel I'd done everything I could to help Bob. This is what I'm going to do' then explain technique in as much detail as you feel necessary. Hopefully your asst will identify with the feeling of guilt, and therefore help you with the technique.[/quote]

In fact, that is almost exactly what I told him. I said that I feel like I had failed Bob as a manager and hadn't done a good job of handling these problems when they first arosed, so I was going to start more open feedback and weekly meetings with Bob and that I needed my asst's help on this. I told him what I expected from him in how we were going to deal with Bob and that even though I knew he may not like this approach, there's no point in getting all frustrated about it because I'd decided we were going to give it a real try and already told Bob my plan.

He thinks that Bob is just using us and telling us whatever to placate things and then he will slip back into his old ways. I said that may be true, but this time I'm going to be more proactive in dealing with it, although I believe Bob wants to do a good job and be a good employee, which he told me, along with the fact that he didn't want to quit and that he still wanted to be here.

wendii's picture

Hi Brd,

Seems we're all channelling Mark now then! Good luck!!

Wendii

brd's picture

Well, "Bob" is gone, and although I still feel like I could have done more, I feel better for at least trying to get through to him one last time. Despite telling me he wanted to stay and that he wants to do a good job, he continued to complain about the asst mgr and I, display a negative attitude, and not finish simple tasks. I tried to find ways to give him pos feedback.

A week later I gave him some verbal feedback (neg) and he got very defensive, which he has done in the past, and then told me that "if you did a better job building a team atmosphere, we wouldn't have this problem." At that point I decided to make the feedback written. He signed it and then proceeded to rant about the situation and said that he didn't care. I told him if he didn't care, then he was free to go somewhere else. But no, he didn't mean that and actually wanted to stay.

Less than another week and he smarts off to the asst mgr. I wrote him up for insubordination and told him that the only way he was going to keep his job was to agree in writing that he would not complain or smart off anymore and to perform the tasks asked of him. He agreed and signed it. Then he said that he wasn't feeling well and was going home sick. I told him not to come back until I called him and told him to.

The next day he came in and quit.

Mark and Mike are probably both cringing, and I know this could have been handled much better and I probably let it get to too late of a stage for coaching. But I think that this person was not willing to improve. In fact, since he has left, I have had other employees and customers tell me stories of how much he complained about working here, and how blatantly he would disregard his duties.

esanthony's picture

BRD,

It sounds to me like, in spite of what he told you, he didnt really want to work there. In those cases it is best to resolve the situation quickly. In Good To Great this aligns with their theory of getting the wrong people off the bus as quickly as possible. Its better for the company and the employee. An employee who "just doesnt get it" and doesnt fit in to the rest of the team's culture will inherently pull down the rest of the team because of loss of focus and disruptions.

Eric

wendii's picture

I was trying to say something constructive and eloquent and had only got as far as *Hug*, when esanthony said it so much better!

Bob's actions didn't match his words, and you know what they say about that.

I hope you can move your energies on to someone who will respond.

Wendii

Mark's picture

Well, it's always a failure when you lose somebody, but not all failures are bad.

Management is a never ending battle. I make mistakes all the time (Mike less so). Paying attention to these skills as part of our professional development means that we're going to try new stuff and it's not going to work. It's just better to fall forward, and that sounds like what you did.

It sounds like Bob wasn't right for your team, so in the long run it's best that he's gone. While it doesn't mean you did it the best it could be done, I have no doubts that you'll never forget this experience, and Bob's net impact in the long run will be incredibly positive.

I still have the badge of the first guy I ever fired. It reminds me there's always room to improve.

Also: don't forget you get paid for results. You're going to be punished at times for poor results which were completely out of your control. As complex as things are, I encourage you to be willing to accept credit for a good thing happening even if you weren't in control of that either.

This is why the word bittersweet is not just a good analogy for life, but also for management... the word ISN'T sweetbitter. The sweet always comes after. Remember the bitter to really make the sweet last.

;-)

Mark