Inappropriate Workplace Behavior and Conduct
[Um, I guess, but I really don’t have time to coddle these people. I’m not their parent. If they need hand-holding, work isn’t the appropriate venue.] Oh, it’s too bad you feel that way. I happen to totally disagree with you. Here’s how it works in my shop: Everyone has an important role to play, and everyone is valued as an individual. That means when people make suggestions to improve situations, their suggestions are taken seriously. More important, all staff members are made to feel welcome and encouraged to participate. I don’t feel like this conversation is getting very far in terms of my being able to sensitize you as to how you’re coming across, so let me be more direct: You’ve got a serious perception problem on your hands. People regard you as aloof, distant, condescending, and arrogant. As a result, people tend to cut a wide swath around you rather than deal with you directly. And that’s a big problem for our group because your behavior impedes collaboration and open communication. Here’s how to look at it: Sleep on it tonight and determine whether you feel like you can amend your behavior to create a more inclusive work environment. Do you feel you could be more sensitive to other people’s feelings and reinvent yourself in light of the feedback that I’m giving you right now? If so, that would be great, and I’ll be fully supportive of the ‘‘new you’’ that you’ll introduce to the rest of us tomorrow. On the other hand, Peter, in fairness to the department and to the company, if you really feel like that’s just not you, then I’ll respect that as well. Not every individual’s personality ﬁts into any particular department’s corporate culture, and I respect that. If pursuing other opportunities right now is the direction you want to head in, then just let me know. I’ll be open to that idea as well and will support you in any way I can. Set some time to meet with me tomorrow and let me know how you’re feeling about the whole thing, okay? Thanks very much for meeting with me.
Yes, this may be a ‘‘my way or the highway’’ approach to managing this individual, but you can’t let one person kill the camaraderie of the entire team. You may be able to put up with it for a while, but at some point it’s going to get old, so address your perception issue openly, honestly, and up front. That’s always a better alternative than simply ignoring the person and forcing Peter to divine by your actions that he’s not liked or appreciated. Is it tough talk? Yes. Is it necessary talk? Absolutely! And if you have any concerns about legal issues due to the individual’s tenure, age, or ethnicity, for example, be sure and speak with human resources or qualiﬁed legal counsel ﬁrst for a conversational dry run.
101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees