Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to DrTony@Assessments24x7.com!

Correcting by Style

The Situation: You run Accounts Payable. Lately, there have been far too many errors. The firm has gotten complaints from customers who've been over-billed or billed twice for the same service. Your boss says this has got to stop -- now! How are you going to get your employees' attention on this?


Indirect and Open

Focus on performance, not personality. They're sensitive; so go out of your way to explain there's nothing wrong with them personally. Also, stress empathy. "You can understand, I'm sure, what it'd be like to pay your bill and then get another invoice saying you hadn't -- or, getting two or three statements at the same time and for the same amount. It'd be confusing, at best -- and probably very annoying. We both want to keep these customers happy, so please help me in trying to eliminate these errors. We've got good employees, and I think we make a good team. But some gaps have crept into our billing procedures, and we've all got to work to stamp those out."

Direct and Open

Don't be vague. Specify exactly what the problem is and what behavior is required. Have the SOCIALIZER repeat the agreed-upon changes back to you so there's no chance of miscommunication. "I definitely need your help on this. We're being scrutinized by the big bosses on how well we deal with this problem; our reputation as a department is at stake. So I need you to get cracking on this plan. Top priority. I'll send you a memo underscoring what we've talked about here. Any questions?"

Indirect and Guarded

Be specific. Say precisely what's being done wrong and what'll it take to correct it. Set a deadline for when you'd expect error-free billing and a series of steps to get there. Plan another meeting in a week or two to see how those steps are working and if mid-course corrections are needed. "We're probably not going to lick this thing all at once. After all, the problem didn't just develop overnight. But let's get a good remedial plan on line -- and then we can take it from there."

Direct and Guarded

Stress the result wanted and, as far as possible, let them come up with ways to achieve them. Set a time for them to get back to you with a progress report.

"Our goal is to totally eliminate billing errors. If anybody can do it, we can. Let's make this a major push, and let's get started right now."


Here's to more personal insight,


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