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When You’re Getting Weird Vibes from Your Employee

Here's a healthy way to address conflict at work...

Full Script on What to Say to Them

Today, I want to talk about what to do when you decide an employee is a right fit for your organization, but there's still something that makes you think they're not fine. They're saying they're fine, but they're not acting fine. And you need to get to the bottom of the weird vibes from your employee. How do you have that conversation?

First up, make sure you set aside some time where you're not going to be interrupted, and that you can really have a good conversation with this person that's sincere, and you're not distracted. Get that squared away, block out those 30 minutes. You'll probably want to do it in a space where they feel like they can freely talk. So it might not be a conversation for a coffee shop. It might be a conversation for a closed door of an office, or a time, if you don't have an office, where you know you're not going to be interrupted.

Invite that person to talk once you've already gone through the steps of making your observation and you realize that something is just off, they're not okay, it's not something that was just a one-off or a bad day, it's consistent behavior. They're not fully engaged with the team. And you bring that to their attention. So you thank them, thank you for coming in today.

“I have noticed some things that I really want to get to the bottom of and work past with you. And thank you for making the time to meet with me. What I've noticed is, when we're in a staff meeting, you're sitting, often really, disengaged. You used to be quick to offer solutions, to be part of the conversation and for the past, however long it's been. For the past three weeks, you really have not been connected. I know I've asked you a few times if everything's okay, but something's off. What am I missing? What's going on?”

Then you're quiet.

And you let them talk. You haven't made any calls about if they're a good person. You haven't told them they don't like their job anymore. You haven't told them what you think is wrong. You've simply stated what you're observing, stated the disengagement, which really is the problem: disengagement. Now you're going to let them give you feedback. They are either going to continue to be buckled down and not say anything, or they're going to let you know what actually is going on. You need to be prepared for either scenario. If they continue to not say anything, we're gonna go that route first. If they're like, “Nope, just doing my job. Getting stuff done.” That's where you're going to have to be really specific around the behaviors that you want to see changed. And you may get some pushback. Tell them,

“I really missed your engagement with the team and you bringing suggestions to the table and being engaged with what's happening around here bringing in the good ideas, being a troubleshooter, being the first one to jump up to do something. I missed that. And we need to see that back. That is a really valuable piece of what you bring to the table.”

You're stating very clearly what you need to see differently. We're not done yet, though. They might give you some pushback at this point. They might say, “Am I supposed to fake being happy at work?” Now we're getting somewhere. Now you can see if they are giving you a lot of pushback, and if you're feeling a lot of resistance.

This is where you can really dig in and start to figure out what is the root of that resistance.

That's where you can if they say something like that:

“I would love to know what is not making you happy at work. Can you tell me more about that?”

They also may go the route where they jump into telling you all right up front, why they're not happy at work. You need to be ready to hear either route and to hear what they have to say, because it's probably going to be about you.

And you're probably going to want to take it really personally. You can't do that.

You can't go into this conversation ready to defend yourself. You can't go into it thinking it's going to be a battle. You have to go into this conversation sincerely seeking resolution and to move the situation forward and to come at it calmly.

You cannot make this personal or emotional or it's going to go nowhere productive.

Let's say they bring the issue to the table. And now you've heard what they've had to say. And that's where you can really listen. And if it's something that can be solvable, let's say the issue isn't directly with you—maybe it's with a co-worker, and they're feeling like this co-worker is getting preferential treatment—it's in a roundabout way is about you. But let's, let's say that they feel like things aren't fair right now. And that's where you can really dig some more.

You want to listen.

You want to hear them out.

You don't want to defend.

You can say, when they're done talking,

“Thank you for sharing your perspective with me. I am really thankful that you trusted me to tell me that. How do you think things could be more fair?

How do you feel like the situation could be more fair?“

Your tone is everything here. It’s totally true. If you go into it with the attitude of how you think it could be more fair versus how they think it could be more fair, that's two totally different responses, you're going to elicit from that person. If you go in the first way, they're gonna go walls up—conversations done. But if you go into it sincerely,

“Hey, how can we make this situation better? Or more fair, what would you like to see? I can't promise you, I can implement everything that you're going to suggest. But I really want to hear what you have to say.”

Then, you let them talk it out. And then you take from it what you can.

Genuinely try to understand their perspective, then you're going to be able to say,

“I heard what you have to say. I think that you have some very workable solutions. We're going to implement X, or give me a few days to think about this. I'm going to come back around to you and let you know what I'm going to do to implement it. But I really appreciate that you're willing to work with me on this. I want to work with you. Let's come to a resolution that's going to make us both happy, and get you back to doing what you do best around here, we miss your great ideas and your engagement.”

That conversation is going to get you a lot farther than continued silence.

And it's going to get you a lot farther than coming at it with an attitude of who's right, who's wrong. When you have come back to it. If you've said give me a few days, don't you dare forget that you need to come back around and check in with that person. You might have already taken care of it. And it's off your plate out of sight out of mind, but they need to know that or they're going to feel like they have not been heard.

So it'll actually do more damage than good.

After you have ended the conversation, and you have decided what you can implement from their suggestion, then you come back around and you say,

“Hey, I've made some changes. I just wanted to check in with you and see how things are going. How are you? How are you doing with it?”

Then listen to what they have to say.

I hope that's helpful. That's a little bit of a different take than if you're coaching somebody through a performance issue. But the steps are the same. I am looking forward to seeing you improve your communications in your business. Now you know what to do when you get a weird vibe from someone who works for you.

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