Just Tell Me! Employee Communications
Every manager knows it is critical to have regular and ongoing communications with team members. However, I frequently hear team members say, “Just tell me what I’m doing wrong so I can fix it.”
For managers, we struggle with the following:
- Does this warrant an actual conversation (Does it need to be documented? Do I need to involve HR?)
- How serious is this issue?
- How do I start the conversation?
The reality is, if you are asking yourself the above questions, then a conversation must be had with the team member.
Things to do before the discussion
Always write a script
Identify your opening statement/comment (do not make it casual conversation; get right to the heart of the matter).
Identify the issue and why this is an issue
Inquire if the employee understands and what support do they need (did they not understand the policy, process, desired outcome, risk to the business, etc.)
Identify a follow-up meeting
Schedule the follow-up meeting at the time of the original discussion
This provides you and the team member a future date for discussion which ultimately eases the burden of calling the employee in again, minimizes the potential of overlooking and not following up
Remember, team members believe if there is no discussion, then all is going well. As managers, we realize this is not always true and need to change that perception.
Now should the conversation be documented? Each performance discussion with team members should be documented in some fashion. Yet, because it is documented, it does not always mean the employee signs the documentation. Many factors come into play when determining if the employee signs; is this more than the first performance discussion; what is the state of the team member; can a witness document. You may ask why document? In short, our memories fail us. Memories don’t always remember the timeline, the exact issue, the response of the employee, etc.
In summary, managers should plan regular and ongoing conversations with team members. We recommend monthly one-on-one meetings with team members to have brief meetings. Managers need to be willing to share the challenges they perceive employees are facing, as well as to praise team members for extra effort and solid performance.