How to use strategy sessions as a way to manage indirect sources of info about your employees (part 2)
This is the second of a three part series in which I describe how managers should use strategy sessions to address indirect sources of information about their employees. Many managers react to indirect sources of information and pass it along as feedback, when instead they should focus on direct sources of information for providing performance feedback. When dealing with indirect sources of info, I advocate for “employee strategy sessions.”
In the example I’m using in this series, you’re receiving information from your employee’s peers and partners that the employee is being “difficult” in meetings. In my previous article, I describe the first three steps for managers to take:
1) Make sure it’s important and worth strategizing about
2) Introduce the conversation as a strategy session
3) Introduce the issue that needs to be strategized share the information that is driving the need for discussion
In today’s article, we continue the steps for conducting a strategy session with your employee:
4. Ask for the employee’s perspective on what the issue is
You can say, “I’d like your perspective on what the issue is and what is creating it.” In our example, others may find the employee difficult, but perhaps the others are being difficult to the employee. You don’t know, so provide ample space in the conversation for the employee to explain his or her perspective. You will likely get more robust information than you probably got from the “indirect” sources. The better the manager listens and understands the employee’s perspective, the more trust will be built between the employee and the manager. In many instances, the employee will fully admit to being “difficult” and will explain what their behavior was that would be interpreted as such. But the strategy session is about resolving the issue – not only the employee’s behavior. So make sure you get the employee’s perspective on what the issue is.
5. Find points of agreement on what the issue is
In conversations like these, there are often differing perspectives that create wildly different viewpoints of what actually happened. But there are also places where there is agreement as to what happened – what was said or done that generated the issue or a common root cause. Focus on these areas where there is agreement on what the issue is. In our example, the issue stated was “the meetings are not going well.” But perhaps after listening to your employee, you gain the perspective that others on the team have overcommitted, and your employee you’re strategizing with has been put in the position of re-setting expectations what can be delivered, and has to deliver this message during these meetings, making for an ongoing difficult conversation whenever the employee enters the meetings.
6. Strategize on how to resolve the problem
After getting your employee’s perspective on the issue, there are now multiple ways of resolving the problem. Take some time to brainstorm some ways to resolve the problem, which can include what the employee can do differently, and what you can do to help the employee. Remember, this is a strategy conversation and not a performance feedback conversation.
In our example, the employee has to deliver a difficult message on an ongoing basis, and you can re-strategize on how that message is delivered or what the message is. This is where the behavioral changes for that employee can take place. But this change on the part of the employee might not be the most important thing. The most important thing may be to have either you or the employee resolve how the original promises are being made.
In the final article in this series, I’ll describe the final steps for the employee and manager in the conducting a strategy session.