When I ask the question to managers “why is counseling employees challenging?” I usually get the responses: it’s uncomfortable, I don’t like confrontation, the employee doesn’t feel it’s fair, I don’t know how to do it without making it personal, and so on.
One of the toughest jobs of a manager is holding people accountable to good behaviors. One of the toughest jobs of an employee is to find out what constitutes good behaviors and what doesn’t. Having clear and defined Service Standards addresses both of these situations.
With clear Service Standards you can counsel or redirect employees whose behavior is not in alignment with the agreed to Standards. This gives the manager an objective reason as to why they are calling out the employee and the behavior. It takes away the subjective and makes it less personal. By having all employees adhere to the defined Service Standards, a cultural norm is created as to the level of service that is expected by everyone and keeps it fair. It helps to create a seamless experience by the consistency that everyone is held accountable. In the counseling conversation, you can follow these steps:
1. Discuss your observations of the behavior you saw or heard.
2. Identify the behavior you would like to see and tie back to one of your Service Standards.
3. Take a moment and ask the employee why they have not been performing the behavior in alignment with the Standards.
4. Ask the employee how they will bring their behavior back into compliance
5. Set a follow up date and time to check back with employee to see if their solution worked.
Counseling should only be done in private with an employee. Its purpose should be to redirect the employee’s attention back to the importance of performing the Service Standard and its reflection on the culture of the institution.