A Blog Series by STS Federal President and CEO, Cliff Ingari
Patience is a virtue and according to Joel Manby, author of the Love Works book, it’s the first tenant required for leading with love.
When I think of the way some employees are treated after making a mistake, what comes to mind is the scene in Game of Thrones where Cersei walks nude from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep, while the citizens throw things at her and shout, “shame, shame, shame.”
Generally, I think we all know when we’ve made a mistake. We don’t need our supervisor or the peanut gallery making us feel more guilt and disappointment than we already place on ourselves. With that said, mistakes must be acknowledged. The key is, the acknowledgement should be in the form of guidance, not discipline.
So, what is the appropriate way to address missteps in the workplace? Manby says “don’t be patient with poor performance, be patient in your response to poor performance.” He provides solid advice on exactly how to patiently counsel employees, which I believe is a vital skill for any supervisor to master.
First, admonish in private. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. To correct someone while they are among their peers is tantamount to the Cersei walk of shame. Bring the employee to your office, their office, or a quiet corner to talk about a mistake they’ve made.
Second, don’t beat around the bush, and be specific about your concern. How many times have you sat in a meeting where it took someone twenty minutes to get to the subject at hand? The presenter thinks they are providing vital context or softening the potential bad news, but all they are really doing is drawing out the inevitable and making the audience more agitated and anxious in the process. Now imagine being an employee waiting to get their licks. Being up front and focusing the conversation on the specific issue saves everyone from prolonged discomfort and demonstrates respect for the employee.
Third, Manby advises, reaffirm the employee’s value. You’ve just notified an employee that they did something wrong. As feelings of worthlessness creep into their head, it’s important to remind them of all the ways they contribute to the company. I think this part of the conversation is so important because it helps your employees understand that you genuinely care for their wellbeing. In addition to that, employees aren’t productive when they feel worthless. Help them “get back on the horse,” Manby says.
Finally, never speak of the reason for the admonishment again. As leaders, I think we must put faith in our people to take the guidance we’ve provided and act on it. Following Manby’s path, I’ve never had to worry about the same mistake happening again. I believe that’s because when employees feel valued, they work harder to accomplish the mission.
On the flip side, absolutely praise employees in public. Seek out employee accomplishments and make sure everyone knows how wonderful they are. We’ll call it the “walk of fame.”
Next month, I will focus on kindness.
To purchase Joel Manby’s book, Love Works, visit: https://joelmanby.com/books/.