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Posted January 26, 2017 by

Disciplining and terminating employees: A guide for first-time managers

 

For many managers, especially first-time managers, giving candid, constructive feedback is the toughest part of their jobs.

And that’s why disciplining and/or terminating employees is so difficult for recent college grads and entry-level managers, says Don Maruska, founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies author of How Great Decisions Get Made and Take Charge of Your Talent.

“Many supervisors shy away from giving effective feedback because they fear how employees will react,” says Maruska, who earned his BA magna cum laude from Harvard and his MBA and JD from Stanford, and also previously led projects for McKinsey & Company, a trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions. “When they finally give the feedback, they often have built up such frustration that the feedback becomes an unproductive battle rather than a positive step forward.”

Because many managers lack the proper training, preparation, or confidence disciplining or terminating an employee, they may ignore the situation. That’s the wrong approach.

“Don’t let the sun set without giving feedback on any performance that isn’t on target,” says Maruska. “That may sound like a tough standard, but every day that goes by only makes the situation more difficult.”

Tips for disciplining an employee

Lois Barth, a human development expert, career/life coach, motivational speaker and author of the new book, Courage to Sparkle, says managers should look to educate and create consensus versus simply just disciplining an employee, or scolding them for poor performance or breaking company rules or policies that don’t quite warrant termination. When there is a situation when you have to discipline someone, focus on their behavior versus them as a person, says Barth.

“As a manager, when you can call out their behavior versus their value as a human being, people will feel less defensive,” says Barth. “Instead of punishing the employee, use your authority as a leader to educate them on why that policy is in place. When people can wrap their mind around the why they are usually pretty good with the what.”

Maruska provides this highly effective formula for providing feedback when disciplining employees that yields constructive results:

Intention: State your intention clearly in terms that show what’s in it for the employee and the firm. For example, “Sam, I want you to be a productive and successful contributor to our team’s growth.”

Observation: Describe what you observe in objective terms. Think through your feedback so that you can deliver it in ways that identify behavior rather than challenge the person’s worth. For example, “When the sales reports arrive after noon on Friday, our team can’t get the results out in time for the sales people to plan next week’s priorities.”

Request: Make it simple, short, and direct. For example, “Sam, will you give me a plan for how you can reliably deliver the sales reports by noon each Friday?”

Confirmation: Be clear about your agreement. For example, “I’ll look forward to your plan by the close of the day tomorrow. OK?”

Tips for terminating an employee

Terminating an employee can be stressful and nerve-wracking for first-time managers. Managers who have access to HR departments, or legal resources within their company should utilize those resources before terminating an employee. It may even be beneficial to have HR lead the meeting, and/or be present in the room during the meeting. HR can also provide the terminated employee with information on paperwork, issue the final paycheck if applicable, and provide any other legal, contractual information, or papers to sign. If it’s a small company, don’t hesitate to ask the company owner or other leadership to be in the room when terminating an employee. Eric Meyer, a partner in Philadelphia-based Dilworth Paxson LLP’s labor and employment group, recommends at least two people be present during any termination meeting. The reason, says Meyer, is so one person can take notes of what is said. If there is litigation, this will avoid a dispute about what was actually said.

In some cases, a termination is obvious, and warrants nothing more than a straight-forward statement, simply saying “thank you for your work, but we have decided to terminate your employment.” Be prepared for the employee to be frustrated, especially if they don’t feel it’s warranted.

If the conversation goes deeper, do not attack the individual.

“Terminations get messy when the terminated employee feels that his or her self-worth is on the line,” says Maruska. “You need to separate performance from the person.”

If feedback is given during a termination meeting, especially if an employee is let go through a layoff, or because the company is downsizing, highlight the strengths of the employee, and tell the employee you’d like to support them in their next step or opportunity. “This is not only more humane but also quicker and cheaper than making the termination a contest of wills,” says Maruska.

And finally, practice before you go live with either a discipline or termination meeting. Being straightforward and clear can be a tough transition for recent college grads, especially new managers who are now managing friends, so find opportunities to practice giving feedback with another manager, colleague, or friend. Focus on your tone, body language, and non-verbal cues to come off polished and professional. Most of all, be confident in your delivery.

Having difficult conversations is difficult. But it’s part of what it takes for millennials to be a good manager. Follow these tips and prepare now to succeed later when terminating or disciplining and employee.

Want more management tips and career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Posted January 19, 2017 by

It’s crucial for managers to learn to communicate across generations

 

The first thing one needs to realize once they move to a management role is this:

Your job has changed! Drastically.

Many people happily take on the title of ‘manager’ while assuming that most of what they will do and be responsible for on a day-to-day basis won’t be all that different, says MacKenzie Kyle, a management consultant and author of The Performance Principle: A Practical Guide to Understanding Motivation in the Modern Workplace. Given that there is limited time each day, and that management responsibilities are their own full-time job, this can result in significant personal stress, working excessive hours as the person attempts to do two jobs, and feeling like he or she has to ‘waste’ time on activities like communication and reporting, which doesn’t produce the same immediate and obvious results as ‘production’ work.

But, as a manager, it is now a big part of your daily job to effectively facilitate the flow of information. So don’t expect that as a manager you’ll get to avoid those regular status meetings or email updates; instead, you’ll be the driving force behind them.

“You are moving to a role that includes a significant component of communication,” says Kyle.

And that means communicating with different personalities, styles, and generations. That in itself is another great challenge all new managers must master. Especially for Millennials trying to communicate and report up across generations, specifically with baby boomers.

In fact, reporting challenges between generations in the workplace are an offshoot of the Grand Communication Canyon between Baby Boomers and Millennials, says Chris Butsch, author of The Millennial’s Guide to Making Happiness, a positive psychology book for young people driven by humor, science, and stories from Millennials around the world. So what’s driving these generations apart? Well, they both want something the other isn’t providing.

Millennials want feedback.

“I’m often asked why we seem to need feedback at every turn, and the answer is quite simple: this is the system we’re used to,” says Butsch. “We’re the most educated generation in America’s history; with over 50% of us holding college degrees. That means more than any generation before us, we’ve spent more time in the education system receiving precise feedback on everything. Even in college, which prepares us for work, we received a percentage score on every deliverable: Here’s what you did right, here’s where you screwed up, 89%, B+.”

But baby boomers are industrious and often bottom-line driven, says Butsch. So if you are a new manager communicating with a baby boomer follow these guidelines from Butsch when managing the flow of communication in the workplace:

Imagine this scenario: Yesterday morning, your client asked for something you have no experience in. This afternoon the manager who you report to asks this:

Haven’t heard from XYZ client in a week- how are things going?

BAD REPORT: Yesterday morning they asked for something I don’t know much about, so I’m kinda stuck. Could you help?

This response creates more questions and more work – baby boomers – often senior managers in today’s corporate hierarchy, hate this. Instead, impress them by showing how much work you’ve already done, covering the three bases above:

GOOD REPORT: (1) Things are well and we’re speeding towards go-live by Monday EOD. I’ve completed 5 of the 7 tasks this week. (2) However, they’ve asked for recommendations for ideal CRM software, and (3) while I’ve thoroughly researched the top 4 options (Pipedrive, Salesforce, Insightly, and Zoho), I don’t feel qualified to make a recommendation without experience. Could you connect me with someone who might have experience in this area?

The latter response tells them things are going well, you’re on schedule, and you specify precisely where you need help.

The biggest thing to remember when communicating as a manager, whether it’s with direct reports, or to senior leaders is this, says Butsch: Stop treating everyone the same.

Butsch references a 75-year-long Harvard study that found the No. 1 indicator of life satisfaction is the quality of our relationships. If you build relationships with the people around you, you’re also building trust, likability, and efficiency between you.

“Building a working relationship doesn’t necessarily mean being buddy-buddy with everyone; it means understanding them,” says Butsch.

How can new managers understand the many different personalities and work styles across generations in the workplace? Start by making mental baseball cards, says Butsch. Like this:

Danielle (hospital director)
Likes: directness, short meetings, short emails
Hates: getting lost in details, anyone who’s late

Kyle (scheduling software analyst)
Likes: positive feedback, 1-1 attention, clear walkthroughs
Hates: feeling lost, going too long without feedback

So if communicating with Danielle and Kyle, Butsch would spend an hour walking Kyle through a new workflow, then fire Danielle a 1-sentence email letting her know that the scheduling software is on track.

As you build these relationships, and start to understand each person’s own unique style – and quirks – you’ll simply enjoy working with more people, and will also build trust with them, meaning you’ll feel more comfortable asking for favors or support in times of need, adds Butsch.

The reality of the job of manager is often different than expectations, and a large number of people don’t find the activities of being a manager – all the communication, supporting other people to do the actual work while dealing with many of their problems, rewarding, says Kyle. But the manager’s role is to coordinate and support the production work (not to do it) and this requires significant time spent simply communicating with the members of the team. Learning how to communicate successfully with different personalities and across generations is a big factor in one’s success as a manager.

Are you ready to make that change? Then you’re ready to succeed as a first-time manager.

Want more management tips and career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted January 05, 2017 by

How to thrive in your new job when a bad manager cramps your style

Congratulations on landing that first job out of college. The hard work has paid off.

Now welcome to the real world. A world where bad managers can quickly turn fun, exciting new jobs into a recent college grad’s worst nightmare.

“Getting a job one loves is a wonderful accomplishment for recent college graduates,” says Laura Poisson, President of ClearRock, Inc., a Boston-based career transition, outplacement, leadership development, and executive coaching firm. “However, having to deal with a bad manager can make that new job a nightmare. It is often hard, especially for a younger person or someone who is new to a company, to determine the best way to deal with a difficult boss.” (more…)