Summer has officially ended. Gone are the relaxed attitudes that come from a week spent on the beach and the natural endorphins that are a result of longer evenings and plenty of sunshine. Companies are now entering into the final home stretch of the calendar year with an expectation of productivity and results. For an HR Director, this can result in a sudden rise of complaints about workload, work/life balance and what are perceived as unrealistic expectations. So, how does an HR Director respond to the frantic employee who calls at 5:00pm declaring that they are ready to quit without notice and that their manager is crazy?
We start from the beginning – behavior. By starting at the beginning, an HR Director can help an employee identify the root of the behavior that is causing the angst. Behaviors are not automatic; behaviors are learned over a course of time due in part to three things:
While possible, rarely does an employee become frustrated at work based solely on the behavior of another co-worker or manager. More commonly, there is a learned behavior that has been repeated consistently, which the employee probably does not realize is distracting or discouraging others around them. In turn, co-workers and managers may be indirectly responding to the behavior in a less than favorable manner, resulting in a lack of cooperation and a general feeling of dissatisfaction.
2. A Lack of Feedback
Even more uncommon than this scenario is an employee who willingly and immediately accepts the idea that their own repetitive behavior may be the root of the problem. However, from a manager’s perspective, how could they not know? Without regular and candid feedback, an employee will repeat the same bad behavior over and over. Regular communication, whether in an informal setting of a one- on-one meeting or a formal setting during a performance evaluation, meeting is critical to the success of each employee. These conversations and documented evaluations not only identify the need to change, but explain the reason for the change and if done properly, show the employee how the change will positively affect their employment.
3. The Perception that the Behavior is Acceptable
The lack of feedback will not only increase the likeliness of it happening again, but the employee will begin to believe that the bad behavior is the right behavior, only adding to the uphill battle that is not correcting the behavior. As an HR Director, the number one response I have gotten from employees who have been reminded to consider their own action is “but my manager never told me that was a problem before” or “this is how I have always done it!” Now my job is even harder as I have to talk them through the ego-blow that comes with the embarrassment of realizing they have been wrong all along.
There is the old phrase that says, “If you give a man a fish; he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish; he will eat for a lifetime.” Many HR professionals approach dissatisfied employees with the intention of fixing the problems themselves. I find it far more effective to teach the same dissatisfied employee how to avoid the issue altogether. By empowering employees to control their own professional satisfaction, we have the ability to provide a workforce with the necessary tools for professional success.