Friday, March 26, 2010

Relationship CPR

So, you are a manager with an employee who has a certain behavior that you don't like; lets say they are chronically late, and otherwise, a good employee. Or lets say you have a teenager who repeatedly ignores your requests to clean up their room. You have lost count of how many times you've talked about the behavior that needs correction, and nothing changes. You see some improvement for awhile and eventually, the behavior that disappoints you returns. What do you do?

Fire them? Ground them? Find some other way to punish?

How about performing relationship CPR.

Here's what I mean. Let's use the chronically late employee as the example.

The first time you confront the employee about being late, the discussion is about CONTENT, which is the subject of lateness. You only talk about the expectations for the time that the work day starts, with something like this:

"your starting time is 8:30; this means the work that is done at your desk needs to be started by 8:30, which in turn means you are expected to report to your desk giving yourself enough time to hang up your coat, get your coffee and start your day by that time".

As a result of this first time discussion about content (lateness) the employee makes a committment to arriving at work in time to do her pre-work routine so she is at her desk and ready to go by 8:30.

It lasts a few weeks and then she starts arriving late again. After a few more days of this behavior, you have a 2nd conversation. This time however, don't go back to talking about content (lateness) Rather, this time you are going to talk about PATTERN/PROMISES. Again, the conversation is straight forward, no hinting, no beating around the push. You might want to say something like this:

"the last time we talked about lateness, you made a committment to arrive to work on time. You kept your promise for awhile, and I'm proud of you for that. Now I see an emerging pattern of lateness again. You are expected to be here on time and you are expected to keep your promises about that"

Again, you see improvement for several weeks until the pattern of lateness returns. After giving it a few days, you have a 3rd conversation. This time, you are not going to talk about content (lateness) or pattern (broken promises) This time you are going to talk about your mutual how the broken promises over the lateness is affecting how you and her work together. Here's what I would say:

"When you and I first talked, it was made clear when your start time is. You made a promise to be on time, and for awhile you kept it. Not so long after that though, you broke your committment to be on time, and it's happening again. I want you to know that I'm becoming concerned over how you and I can work together. I'm having difficulty trusting you and am getting a sense that you do not respect my leadership or this organization. How can we fix this?"

People seldom intend to break promises and erode the trust of others, so when faced with the reality that this is what is happening, they often begin to finally take it seriously. Talk about the content each and every time a confrontation is needed, and nothing changes; talk about the effect of broken promises and harmed relationships, and you are at the heart of the matter, and this prompts change.

If done respectfully, it is in the relationship discussion, that both parties are enabled to really open up and be authentic. You might find out things that you never knew before, like stuff happening at home for the employee that had been driving the behavior. This is where creativity happens, and brainstorming results in solutions that make it possible for you to continue working together. Moreover, mutual respect is built upon.

This is CPR...the first time you confront, it's about the behavior; the second time you have to confront, it's about the pattern and the broken promises; the third time you confront, it's about the relationship, how trust has become eroded, and respect seems to have declined. CPR is effective in any situation, any relationship, whether it be work, parenting, or partnering. And just like the real CPR, it can save a whole lot of grief if done with compassion and respect.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for all this advice... I am going to practice it with one of my employees this friday!! I'll let you know how it goes...eeeek