Why would he say that to another employee? Why does she act so sour? He is so lethargic, I feel like I am going to fall asleep each time we talk.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? At times you may feel as though you and your employees are not on the same page, let alone reading from the same book. Perhaps you are reading a passage from Shakespeare and your employee is reading from Dr. Seuss. You say to yourself “I didn’t know this when I hired them, what was I thinking?“
In the last few weeks a number of business owners and leaders have shared these comments with emotion and frustration. The stories sounded the same. The candidates appeared to have good skills and background when they were hired and now they are exhibiting behaviors that are bothersome. These behaviors may be impacting productivity, the results of the business, engagement of other employees, turnover, and your sanity.
Every conversation had a similar focus. How could this situation be avoided? How do I deal with these behaviors when they surface in the workplace? GREAT QUESTIONS!
It all starts with the interview. When you interview, and you are in a pinch to hire, everyone looks good. You may make decisions based on first impression, skip questions or steps in the process, or minimize your standards out of desperation. I know, you are saying “NOT ME.” Really?? We all have done this. It is humbling to admit, and ultimately is a learning experience. It takes a lot of time to coach and counsel after the person has started working for you. To avoid hiring when you are in “need”, try to get ahead of the curve. In this market, talent is harder and harder to find. Always be on the lookout for good candidates and if you find one, hire them. Life always happens, and turnover occurs.
Previous “What the Hecht?” blogs have discussed important topics to ensure you are prepared for the interview. Let’s assume you have a job description, have created behavioral questions, understand what you legally can/cannot ask, and have a great summary to describe your benefits and time away from work. Based on the calls from the business owners and leaders, I bet there are topics that you do not discuss in the interview… those behaviors that MAKE YOU CRAZY! You always interview for skill and ability as it relates to the functions/competencies of the position, but the little things are the ones that are like dripping water from a faucet. It’s like a marriage, there are the “must haves”, and then there are the little things that gnaw at you each day, i.e. dirty dishes in the sink! When you ask questions to determine if you are aligned in the interview, you are getting on the same page.
Let me share some of my “Make Me Crazy” list; lack of integrity, not having each other’s back, not doing what you say you will do, and yes, a lack of passion or energy. I have created interview questions to determine how a potential employee exhibits/or does not exhibit those characteristics. I would rather know up front versus be surprised after we start working together. Here is an example of a behavioral question to delve into these topics. Tell me about a time you worked with someone who did not have your back? What was the situation? How did you respond? What was the outcome? I then ask a follow-up question. Tell me about a time when you did not have someone’s back? What was the situation? What caused you to respond in this manner? What would you do differently if faced with the situation today? The answer to the question tells me their past behavior and potential future behavior in a similar situation.
You may be shaking your head and thinking that is good advice going forward but what do I do if I have an employee that is currently working for me, doing a good job, but is making me crazy!
You may remember the old phrase “You catch more flies with honey.” Take a deep breath and respond when you are not wound up. Identify the specific behavior that is occurring and the result, i.e. not having each other’s back impacts trust and teamwork and lethargy may impact results. You get the idea! When you can identify the specific characteristic in a calm manner, you can have a conversation to address the issue. The longer you let the faucet drip the more aggravated your will get.
Remember, communication is the key to getting on the same page.