Steps to Deal Effectively with Unacceptable Behaviour and Performance (and keep trust and respect)

One of the situations most avoided by leaders is dealing with unacceptable behaviour and performance.

The main reasons are:

  1. Fear of failure.
  2. Causing more conflict or escalation.
  3. Losing or breaking relations.
  4. Not knowing how to do it effectively.
  5. Concern about the process being onerous.

Yet, those leaders who have invested the time to learn how to do it and keep trust and respect, are also the most effective, the least stressed and obtain the best results, in both culture and performance.

Here are some ideas for steps to take:

  1. Reset the workforce’s agreement about the code of behaviour and standard of performance, aligned to the values, vision, mission and goals, tied to roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and agreed consequences.
    1. This is an important first step and is an absolute prerequisite.
    2. This is a facilitated inclusive action for everyone.
    3. The agreement includes the scale of consequences ranging from acknowledgement for great action to coaching rectification and ultimately redeployment or dismissal.
    4. It will take time and needs to be initiated as soon as possible.
  2. Regular personal positive conversations with direct reports where behaviour and performance is acknowledged.
  3. In the event of an initial transgression, immediate private and respectful notice is given, by way of this question, “Is this behaviour/performance aligned to our agreement?” together with a request for rectification, in accordance with the agreement.
  4. The repeat transgressor, once the tangible evidence is verified and available, is asked in the second instance, the following questions in order:
    1. “Does this align with our agreement?”
    2. “What do you need to help you get back on track?”
    3. “Are you clear that another transgression calls for more stringent action as per our agreement?”
  5. The next related transgression by that person calls for a similar conversation to 4 above with a file note describing the situation and either retraining or coaching.
  6. The next related transgression is redeployment or dismissal.
  7. It is crucial that the leader/supervisor makes contemporaneous notes in a diary or journal for each of the steps above.

There is no excuse for leaders letting unacceptable behaviour and performance go unchecked.

There is more to lose by letting it go than by nipping it in the bud.

Every workplace requires a clear agreed process for dealing with the unacceptable and all members are subject to it.

What are your thoughts about this topic?

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