The Dreaded Employee Confrontation Conversation

Why taking care of business beats sticking your head in the sand....

It happened again. Your meeting reminders weren’t sent to the right people, the catered lunch order was wrong, and the agenda was missing an entire section. You love Susie, but she hasn’t really met your expectations! Not only is she making a mess of your business, she’s also making a mess of your reputation. And if you want to salvage your name—and what’s left of your sanity—you’ve got to confront the situation.

You probably knew you were making a mistake when you hired her, but what could you do? As Uncle Joe’s neighbor who had recently lost her job, Susie really needed the work, and because you’re a kind-hearted soul, you offered her the vacant office manager position. Now, both you and your business are suffering, and you’re having trouble getting up the nerve to confront the issue.

Before we go any further, let us commend you on your compassion. Your desire to help Susie in her time of need was truly heroic, and it’s one of the qualities that makes you a great boss! But, as that boss, you also have a professional responsibility not only to yourself, but also to your employees, investors, customers and, yes, even to Susie herself who is constantly on the brink of tears.

When it comes down to it, business is business. And, while very few people enjoy confrontation, it’s part of the role as a good boss or manager. Part of your responsibility is to make sure that the environment is productive and healthy, and when there’s an employee who is holding back that positive progress, he or she needs to be talked to about performance. If that doesn’t change the situation, you have to make the choice to either allow the frustration to continue or to do what needs to be done. Just add up the time that you spend messing with the messes, and it sometimes puts the decision in the right perspective.

Separating the personal from the professional is hard for everyone, and that’s not always a bad thing – it’s only human. It’s nice to enjoy working with your employees. However, when it gets in the way of a running a productive business and maintaining a positive environment for employees and customers, you have to remember that it is just that: business. Bottom line; your employees are paid to do what their position description requires.

Will Susie still speak to Uncle Joe? Maybe, maybe not. But, as harsh as it may sound, that’s not your problem. You’re actually not doing Susie any favors if you don’t let her know that things aren’t as they should be.  Part of your responsibility as a leader is to develop and really manage your employees.  That includes confronting issues, and sometimes even terminating an employee so that you can make progress in your business and allow them to pursue a career where they can achieve some success.   When it gets to that point though, do it well.  So many business owners spend time sugar coating an otherwise prickly issue and the message gets totally lost, please don’t do that. 

After all, you’re doing what it takes to get the business running productively – it’s not unreasonable to expect that from your employees.  When you can't manage it yourself, then call us at 855.474.2836.