I know that this may sound very familiar to some of you. I will describe the situation that lead up to this coaching event.
Employer #2 John, (not his real name, of course and as there are 2, someone has to be) has walked into the office mid morning after being out of the office for a meeting. The receptionist, we will call Sue, is chatting with someone who works in a different office. She somehow acts like this office is an extension of her own and hangs out here much too long daily. This action has been irritating John for some time and as yet, not dealt with it.
Sue has works for the current employer #1 Wayne (…again, fake name) as well as for a previous employer in the same office. I suspect that Sue’s actions have not altered in many years. Often when an employee works at the same place for a long time, there is an ownership that may ensue allowing them to believe that they can make their own rules. By the way, when no office rules/boundaries have been clearly set, this seems perfectly appropriate to said employee. What possible consequences can there be with no standards stated from the employer?
John has only recently joined the team and has been taking a bit of time to become familiar with the staff and their roles in the business before taking on any changes. Wayne has been busy with his professional expertise, so managing has been a “fix as necessary” thing so adding an on-sight manager seemed necessary – so John, #2 employer.
John was quite irritated this particular day as Sue was also shopping online. This is both unprofessional and completely inappropriate. To be fair, there have been no rules and it is necessary to explain what is expected and the consequences when this is not fulfilled.
John waited for the person from the other office to leave Sue’s desk then once she was free from a quick business call, asked her to come to his office to speak with her privately. Remember, he has not been happy with her for some time and is angry at this moment. (Never a good time for a calm discussion) He believes he is in the right and she is in the wrong. (Clearly, emotions are running this show.) John felt he was professional and started off in a calm tone with her.
First off, he mentioned the fact that she was shopping online on company time.
Her response was she would clear the shopping site from the computer if a client came. (Apparently not near busy enough or what this looked like to her employers.)
As John was on a roll now and no longer calm (or professional) he asked about a call she had just answered before John approached her. A potential client was brushed off to someone else, who wanted some information. She clearly could have known the information considering she had worked in the business for many years. Where was her interest in actually being of service to their clientele?
Now SHE was angry and defensive then walked away.
I am sure she was quite surprised to be called on behaviour that had been quite acceptable before now.
There are some questions I asked John.
How do you want your business to be presented to the public/clients?
Premium customer service
A team that knows what is expected of them
What are your expectations of your employees?
To be of utmost service to their clientele
To be clearly professional at all times
To work the hours they are paid for
To do and be their best at all times
To do all personal items on their own time
How will you clearly pass on this information?
I have to set aside some time to discuss this with Wayne (Employer #1- he really was first)
Write up a clear expectation for staff to follow
Explain to all staff what their expectations are and maybe why
What will be the consequences for breaking said rules?
Instant firing! Or maybe something less drastic if the offence is not the first.
Is it possible that Sue may not have known what was expected?
How can there be more clarity with what the consequences are for the infraction?
Being clear myself with what I want for the office and getting them onboard.
How will you feel when your office runs with a full staff that are all behind you and doing what is expected?
It will be great! I imagine that the staff will feel comfortable knowing what is expected and the environment will be relaxed yet efficient. Professional yet fun as there will be no underlying energy of discontent. I will feel on top of what I am responsible for, so no anxiety or stress over things that need taking care of. I will no longer feel resentful of past management choices or staff’s poor performance as I can follow through with what I asked for. If it is not met I may remind a staff member of what is expected, then follow through with the consequences as have been set forth in advance. It is a win-win all around!
There is a clear opportunity here for growth on everyone’s part. Coaching is a great way to get clarity and a solution so this type of issue no longer happens. It is a set up for the employee when there are no clear expectations and guidelines on appropriate behaviour and consequences within the office space and work hours.
There is need for both John and Wayne (sorry about that) to come to an agreement on their office goals, priorities as well as how the office must function. There is a necessity for clarity so the employees know what is expected of them and what the consequences will be with non-compliance. If there is a common goal and mutual benefit, they will climb on board the office band wagon to support their employers. If they do not support it, then there are choices to be made by everyone.
Coaching has allowed John to understand how this situation came about and where to go from here. I will continue to work with John as both he and the situation evolve. If you are having situations with relationships at home or at work – this may have been helpful. You may be thinking, “Yup! I am having issues just like this and I am not quite sure how to handle it.” Or maybe you just wish it would go away all by itself knowing clearly it won’t.
All relationships need to be tended to and can grow when they are. If you are ready for change and want to have a chat on how I may support you, please send me a note with your number on the contact page and I will be happy to call you at your convenience.
- Awkward! Nine sticky work situations (theglobeandmail.com)
- How to properly sack someone (theglobeandmail.com)