No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why You Need Employee Counseling Skills

Most organizations are bad at employee counseling. In fact, most don't do any of it. 

Most organizations have reviews. The problem is, reviews are usually regularly scheduled and don't happen often enough, and often they're really to talk about pay. They're a cookie-cutter approach to feedback that treats everyone the same, and doesn't give anyone enough feedback. 

Most organizations also have disciplinary processes, for people who won't get with the program. 

Between the extremes, though, there's a need for a tool to work with team members, to help them and you get on the same page. Performance issues can come up because a team member understands the work, or the goals, or the boundaries, differently than you do. 

When that happens, you can wait for months, then tell him, "The reason you're not getting a raise is because . . . " That's using the review process. Unfortunately, you have months of bad performance and an unhappy team member as an outcome. 

Or you can get out the handbook, cite her for some kind of failure, make her sign a piece of paper that will go in her file, and send her back to work. That's using the disciplinary process, but the outcome there is potentially a damaged relationship, plus it puts you on a glide path to maybe losing that person. 

Obviously we need something else for those times when team members don't respond to that word to the wise. That's what counseling is all about; it's your tool to dig in with someone who's going sour or isn't developing like he or she should. It's that focused conversation that allows communication to happen. This week, we'll explore some aspects of how leaders can effectively counsel.

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