The first step is to do your homework. There is nothing worse than having egg on your face because you didn’t have all the facts. What have you seen and heard yourself? What have you heard from others? What do you need to check? Would your boss see this as something worth confronting head on?
The second step is to decide what you are going to say. Right at the outset, you need to state the facts, how you came by them and how this falls short of your expectations. This part needs to be clear and concise, so spend some time rehearsing your opening statement. Then, you need to invite a response with a simple question such as, What happened? Other than the opening question, this part cannot be pre-planned. However, you can expect to spend some time listening to what they have to say and asking further questions that help you better understand the situation from their perspective. Finally, you need to remind them that their behavior needs to change and then work with them to come up with ways that they can make this change happen.
The third step is the meeting itself. Make a time in advance where you can meet with them privately and then work through the stages in step two. During the meeting you may discover that some personal issues (divorce, drug addiction, etc.) are contributing to the problem. You should not discuss solutions to these sorts of problems other than to offer to refer the person to a counselor from your company’s Employee Assistance Program or similar. You need to focus your efforts on helping the person change their attitudes and actions at work. This is essentially an open-ended problem-solving exercise sandwiched between a pre-planned opening and closing. I described the opening in step two (above). The closing is a simple restatement of what they have agreed to do as a result of the problem-solving you have just undertaken.
The fourth step is making a written record of the meeting. The degree of detail needed in your notes will depend upon the seriousness of the issue being discussed. However, it would generally include information about:
- The meeting itself (when, where, who)
- The gap between their current behaviour (factual) and your expectations
- Any actions that you and they have agreed to take
The fifth and final step is following up after the meeting. At a minimum, this involves ensuring that you follow through on anything that you have agreed to do. However, I suggest you go further. Get out of your office and observe what they are doing. People are far more likely to do as they are told when they know that they are being watched. Use this ongoing insight to acknowledge any positive changes that you see, while also correcting any remaining undesirable behavior. Furthermore, you can set aside time for ongoing meetings. Use these meetings to check progress on their commitment to change, and if necessary, to work out solutions to any unexpected difficulties that they have encountered.