|Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Correcting by Style You run Accounts Payable. Lately, there have been far too many errors. The firm has received complaints from customers who have been over-billed or billed twice for the same service. Your boss says this has to stop -- now! How are you going to get your employees' attention on this?
Indirect and Open
Focus on performance, not personality. They are sensitive; so go out of your way to explain there is 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, to get two or three statements all about the same time and for the same amount. It would 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 have 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
Do not 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 is no chance of miscommunication. "I definitely need your help on this. We are being scrutinized by the big bosses on how well we deal with this problem; our reputation as a department is at stake. Therefore, I need you to get cracking on this plan. Top priority. I will send you a memo underscoring what we have talked about here. Any questions?"
Indirect and Guarded
Be specific. Say precisely what is being done wrong and what it will take to correct it. Set a deadline for when you would 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 did not 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,
How do you deal with employees who aren't performing?
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