Many supervisors dread confronting employees. It's often easier to drop hints and make indirect threats rather than initiate a face-to-face, fish-or-cut-bait conversation with an individual who must shape up, pronto.
Constructive confrontation works best when you organize your thoughts in advance. In the days before you meet with an employee whose behavior or performance is unacceptable, map out what to say so that you follow a clear, logical framework.
Take three steps to plan a successful confrontation:
1. Bill, a mail-room worker, has responded to my many warnings about his lackadaisical approach to his job by insisting that it's simply his personality. He says he may seem flighty, apathetic and easily distracted, but he's really motivated to perform well. When I've cited the many instances where he forgot to attend mandatory meetings or ignored my directives, he said what really counts is his performance rather than these “things on the side.”
2. I'll summarize Bill's comments and ask, “Would you agree that's how you've responded to this issue in the past?”
3. Once he agrees, I'll say, “Bill, I understand that you see yourself as a solid contributor here, and I'm glad you want to succeed at your job. At this point, however, the challenge you face is to succeed not on the terms you've set for yourself, but on the terms I lay out-the job requirements.”