Scolding is hard but dismissing is much worse

WORKING WOMAN

June 12, 1994|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

Ask a room full of bosses, "What part of your job do you hate the most?" and 95 percent will agree that firing an employee ranks No. 1, while having to reprimand an employee comes in a close second.

If you're faced with this odious task, here are some do's and don'ts that will at least increase your odds of not having to fire her:

* Don't procrastinate. Putting off a confrontation hardly ever makes it easier.

* Do remain aware of your tone of voice. Some of us have an unfortunate tendency to sound like exasperated mothers when we have to lay down the law.

* Do remain calm and objective. This is the time and place for fairness, clarity, objectivity and professionalism.

* Do remember that (a) you are the boss and (b) you're not the one who's erred. Don't be apologetic.

* Do your homework ahead of time. Identify the problem, then gather clear, specific examples of how it's affecting you, your department and/or the company.

* Do tell this employee not only what she's doing wrong, but precisely how you want her to change her behavior.

* Do explain that you'll need to monitor her work more carefully than you have previously.

* Do meet with her in a private location.

* Do spell out the consequences that will occur if she fails to change her ways.

* Do allow your employee to respond. Everyone has the right to be heard, and refusing to listen will only alienate her and undermine your efforts.

* Do keep an eye on your body language. Don't shake your finger, stand while she's sitting, shake your head or roll your eyes while she's speaking.

* Don't allow this confrontation to turn into an argument. If your employee becomes angry, say something like: "I'm willing to discuss this matter further with you, but I must insist that you not speak to me in this manner; you must treat me with the same civility and respect that I'm according you."

If this doesn't work and your employee continues to be disrespectful or abusive, say, "This meeting is over," and leave the room -- perhaps to reconsider how valuable an employee is who engages in this sort of immature, unprofessional behavior.

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