Portable Sanitation Association International

Association Insight November 11, 2020

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ASSOCIATIONINSIGHT Portable Sanitation Association International News BIWEEKLY EDITION NOVEMBER 11, 2020 Page 3 Coaching Employees Who Irritate Others…continued from page 1 Continued on page 4 It's Not Easy Discussing someone's personal style is tricky business. You want the conversation to be productive, and the situation easily lends itself to defensiveness. Just remember, it's a conversation you need to have. Even though many of your employees spend their days alone in a truck, they still have to work well with others to succeed. In addition, the longer you let things go, the worse things will get and—importantly—the longer the employee will think whatever they are doing or saying is acceptable. So buck up. Here are some ideas to help you succeed with the task. Plan What You Will Say Before you begin the discussion, you need to think carefully about what you will cover and how you will say it. Don't just stew on the situation until some incident leaves you no choice. Your chances of a positive outcome improve if you prepare. First, collect your thoughts by asking yourself what behaviors you personally have observed. Be objective. Avoid making judgments, generalizing, and interpreting. Good example: John, I heard you tell Jack (who has worked here 15 years) that you probably know more than he does about pumps. That led Jack to walk away from you, and you did not then learn what he was trying to teach you. Not-so-good example: John, I know you're just trying to show us all how smart you are, but you're always being condescending to others. Now some of our best guys don't want to train you. What am I supposed to do about that? It's also wise to strategize how your employee might respond to your comments. Odds are good that this employee is someone with a strong personality who might push back or challenge the feedback. You need to be prepared for any reaction and have a plan for what you will do or say next. There's no perfect answer of course, but you can avoid the worst mistakes—and help keep your cool—by planning out ahead of time what you will do or say if various things happen. This is no time to fly by the seat of your pants. Get Your Head on Straight Nobody likes these kinds of conversations. When I was a young supervisor, I had to talk with a much older employee, Cathy, about her body odor and general demeanor around the office. Cathy was very obese and (rightly) felt that others in the office were whispering about her behind her back. Her self-consciousness resulted in her being, at turns, highly defensive toward her peers and withdrawing tearfully into her office for long stretches. To this day, talking with Cathy was one of the more difficult employee situations I ever had to face. When it comes to conversations like these, what you say is nearly as important as how you say it. One thing I knew from my training as a counselor back-in-the-day is that emotions are contagious. If I approached Cathy projecting a critical or angry air, she would soon be feeling criticized and angry too. That's a recipe for disaster.

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