Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Long Must You Wait to See Improvement?

How long should you wait for an employee to turn around and begin to show solid gains in improved performance after you've held a corrective interview? This is a tough question, but the answer is crucial because you can save a life, possibly, if you act with a cool head. A life!? Yes. Some employees have personal problems and they refuse to get help for them. But once you are "tired" of the problems, you become a runaway train for leveraging an employees into treatment, who will turn around. Although many supervisors would report knowing exactly how they would handle such a scenario--fire the bump-- in practice most supervisors deliberate too long and feel ambivalent. They stall. Such a decision may require making a judgment that weighs the urgency needed for change, the expectations of management, or the attitude demonstrated by your employee toward resolving his or problems affecting performance. Although waiting longer sends an unintended message of indifference, and enables your employee to grow worse, it is likely that a personal problem remains untreated and resolved if you are still seeing performance related issues. Be careful of your emotional reaction to your employee so you can effectively decide  what to do. Want some fun? Tell the employee: "My decision is to fire you today, right now, at this hour, and you can pick up your check at the front desk when you leave. However, would you like to hear my proposal in lieu of this decision?" There is no employee you have ever met in your career who will not say, "What?" as their next utterance to this question.. After the employee says "What?", say this: I am willing to hold this decision in abeyance under several conditions: 1) That you go to a professional counselor who can do an assessment. (Tip: Get an employee assistance professional to assist you. If you do not have an EAP, hire a professional t do an assessment via the list of experts available from the EAP Association). The assessment must include verification of attendance and follow through with recommendations. The counselor must phone me to verify. You must maintain a signed consent for the release of confidential information so the professional can contact me and maintain in contact with me for the purposes just stated. I don't require any other information." This employee is getting help, and you have salvaged your employees, possibly your best worker.