Thursday, July 6, 2017

Etiquette and Employee Reprimands

Point out the error or incorrect behavior. Then reaffirm them, by telling them they're okay in your book. It's just their actions that need to be modified.

When reprimanding, what you "do" is often not as important as what you "don't do." Since no one really enjoys a reprimand, it's easy for people to be put on the defensive when receiving criticism. I suggest remembering these "don'ts" when you must reprimand an individual. By not observing these points, you'll find that people become less concerned with listening to you and more concerned with fighting you off.

1. Don't attack someone personally. Never begin a reprimand with a statement such as, "Listen Fred, you idiot, ... " Address the problem at hand. Be specific about what it was that was incorrect. However, there is no need to insult a person just because you're upset.

2. Don't store up reprimands. By this I mean don't wait "for good time," to deliver one or more reprimands. The best time to give a reprimand is immediately after the incorrect behavior or action has occurred. If you wait a week or so to discuss the problem with the individual, and throw in some other problems you've observed over the past months, your impact on a person's behavior will not be very effective.

Accumulated griefs and problems will only make you feel bad. When you do finally "dump" on the person, there will be so much to digest, and the error so far removed from the actual event, you'll just end up blowing off a lot of steam which will have little or no impact on behavior.

3. Don't threaten people. Such threats will either immobilize them with fear or cause considerable resentment. Stick to the point. Point out the error or incorrect behavior. Then reaffirm them, by telling them they're okay in your book. It's just their actions that need to be modified.

4. Don't reprimand people in public. Public fireworks, such as chewing out an employee in front of a customer, is a technique only used by bullies. It's thoughtless, damaging and embarrassing for everyone around. Before you give a reprimand, think! If someone has done something wrong you must ask yourself, "Should he or she have known better?"

If the answer is "No," then the person is obviously still unfamiliar with his or her assigned responsibilities or tasks. In this case, do not reprimand. Never reprimand a beginner — be it an experienced hand, working in a new position, or your own child learning to tie shoelaces. It will only cause confusion and outright discouragement.

In this instance, your role is a manager is to help or redirect the person who is having a problem. However, if a person should have known better, then you must ask yourself, "Did they make the mistake deliberately? Or because they lacked confidence?" If the problem revolves around confidence, do not reprimand.

You need to determine the reason for the problem causing this lack of confidence. It could be that there is a new situation which is unsettling to an experienced worker. For example, perhaps a long-time sales clerk makes many errors on the new cash register. If so, the reason is probably a lack of confidence with the new buttons and new routine required when ringing up sales.

In such a situation, the managerial style required is "supportive." No one needs to reprimand this clerk. Rather, the clerk needs some training and some practice on the new register coupled with support from an understanding boss. Remember that you reprimand only deliberate, regressive performance or behavior. — Dr. Ken Blanchard in Inland Empire Magazine, 1989



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia