Reflect and Consult

Take some time to reflect on your role, and seek input from your peers. Be open to accepting and owning your mistakes.

Having talked to the employee, take a day or two and mull it over inside your head. Ask yourself some hard questions:

  • Did you contribute to this?
  • Were you not clear with your expectations?
  • Did you offer up something that suggested that the job was different than it was?
  • Did you promise something that you’ve not been able to deliver?
  • Have you done the necessary diligence to get this employee the training they needed?

And so on. This is not to say that all employee performance problems are your fault, but you need to be honest enough with yourself to realize that managers can, and often do, contribute to performance problems. We certainly don’t mean to, for sure, but we’re just as human as everybody else working at the company, and if you can’t own up to your own mistakes, how can you possibly expect your team to do the same?

Remember how as an engineer, you used to go to peers and talk about bugs you couldn’t figure out on your own and they would suggest something you hadn’t thought of? One of your most valuable resources to tap into in a situation like this probably sits next to you at your boss’s team meetings. Talk to your peers. “Hey, Woody, you got a second? I’ve got an issue with one of my team, and I’m worried that my frustration my be clouding my judgment. All I can see is the mistakes he’s making, and I really want to make sure I’m not missing something.” Offer to buy them lunch. Present the evidence as best you can, and answer the questions as honestly as you can. (It goes without saying you’ll do the same for Woody when he comes to you a few weeks from now, too!) It’s quite remarkable how often the same situations repeat themselves across the company, so tap into that.

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