Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

10 Tips to Make Feedback Effective

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How often do you give feedback to your staff? And I don’t just mean when you want to correct some aspect of their interview 3behavior.

Feedback is one of the Top 3 factors that motivate people at work. The majority of employees want to know when they’re doing well, and when they could be doing better. There’s no doubt, that giving people feedback, is absolutely vital to ensure a motivated team who deliver results.

Whether you want to reinforce positive behavior or change unacceptable behavior, there are certain steps you need to follow to make it effective.

  1. Do it as soon as possible. When you see or hear something, you do or don’t like, you need to say something right away. If it’s positive feedback it’s not much use saying something months later.

It also makes sense to give constructive feedback as soon as you see, or hear something you don’t like. If you don’t do it right away, then the person will assume that you didn’t notice, or that it doesn’t matter, or that you don’t care.

  1. Do it in private. This seems like the most obvious thing to say but I still see managers giving a member of their team some positive feedback in front of other people be they colleagues or customers. Of course, it’s usually more of a reprimand. Some managers believe that if they’re seen and heard giving some feedback, then it will have an effect on the other team members, you bet it will – it’ll totally de-motivate them!


  1. Check that it’s okay to speak. If one of your team has just finished speaking to a customer on the phone, they might have some admin things to do before they forget. If you interrupt, then you risk being responsible for a customer not getting something they were promised.

It’s only good manners to check before speaking, and your people will respect you for it.

  1. Announce your intentions. If your people are not used to receiving regular feedback, what do you think runs through their mind when you pull up a chair, or ring them on the phone? You’re right, they think its bad news, that they’ve done something wrong, or there’s a problem.

It’s important therefore to tell them up front, what you want to speak about.

  1. Tell them how YOU feel about their behavior  Your people work for the same organisation as you, but it’s you they have to please. So make sure when you give feedback, it comes from you. That means not saying things like, ‘The company doesn’t like their employees to speak to customers like that.’ Or, ‘It’s not up to me, but you’d better improve your performance or you’ll be in trouble.’
  1. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t confuse your team member with a whole list of behaviors. If it’s positive feedback then, you don’t want to list several things they’ve done well. You’re only diluting the whole feedback and it loses its impact.

If you’re giving constructive feedback, then you don’t want to confuse your team member with a whole catalog of behaviors that you’re unhappy about.

  1. Be specific. When you’re giving one of your team some feedback and coaching them, it’s so important to focus on job related behavior and not on the personality of the individual.

If you feel a bit uncomfortable giving feedback, try to focus on the person’s behavior on the job, in terms of how they conducted a particular task. That’s what you’re giving feedback on, not them as a person.

  1. Include the customer and the organisation. Whenever appropriate, relate what your feedback is about, to how the customer was affected. This of course could be an internal or an external customer. You could also relate it to how the organisation was affected, if relevant.
  1. Get input. When giving constructive feedback, it’s important to get the team members input. Listen to what they have to say and discuss how, you can, together, resolve the situation.

10. Don’t leave them low. This is particularly important after giving constructive feedback. As I said earlier, this isn’t an attack on the person; it’s about job related behavior. A team member should come out of a feedback session with their sense of self-worth intact.



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3 Steps to Stop Sickies

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Are you frustrated by workplace absence?sneezing

If you’re a business owner or a manager then absence can be a real pain! It’s inconvenient, it’s damaging to customer service, you lose sales and it costs your business money. And as we all know, not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees take a “sickie” because their morale is low and they just don’t like or can’t do their work.

Make people happy

The challenge for managers and team leaders is to make people happier at work. And if people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose. Some bosses think that paying more money, improving job security or working conditions is the answer.

It isn’t and it’s also something that can be very hard to achieve.

Get on their wavelength

People who employ or supervise others need to become more tuned to their employees’ emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. This is also much easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, however there is no quick fix. Some years ago I inherited a tele-sales operation with low staff morale and poor sales results. It took nearly six months to fix. The long-term benefits were of course worth it in terms of fewer days lost due to sickness and an increase in sales.

To reduce the number of sickies there are 3 steps you need to consider:

1. Pick the right person for the job.

You need to get better at interviewing and selecting people. Take more time over it; pay more attention to the applicant’s human side rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better.

Find out what makes them happy, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have.

Make sure they know what they’re getting into and be sure the job suits them.

2. You need to believe in your people.

If you’ve interviewed well and picked the right person for the job then you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and also by your body language.

If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they’re unable to make a decision without checking with you; that they’ll turn up late and go home early, then that’s exactly what they’ll do.

If on the other hand you believe that they’ll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions, and they’ll give you a fair day’s work, then it’s more likely this is what you’ll get.

As with all theories there is no guarantee that it will work every time, however the majority of employees are reasonable people and if you treat them as such then they’re more likely to behave in a positive manner.

3. Give feedback and coach.

This is probably the most important thing you can do to motivate your team members.

This is where so many managers and team leaders fall down in dealing with their people; they’re hopeless at giving feedback.

Many managers are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance be it good or bad.

Most employees want to know how they’re performing in their job; they want to know if they are doing it right or how they could do it better.

If you really want to motivate your people then you need to give them feedback on what they’re doing well and also – what needs improvement.

When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don’t like, tell them about it.

Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don’t immediately call someone’s attention to something you’re not happy about, then they’ll assume its okay. Either that or they’ll think you didn’t notice or you don’t care.

Do it in private; why is it some managers still feel its okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale.

So there you have it; these steps will take time and thought however they’ll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work.

If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work then they are less likely to find a reason to ‘take a sickie’.

Excerpt from How to be a Motivational Manager51zNGdLr4YL._SL300_311


7 Reasons Why Some People Are Difficult

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When I’m running a seminar on How to Manage Difficult People, I often say to the group: ‘Please put up your hand if angry adultyou’re a difficult person who makes problems for other people.’

Guess what – not one person raises their hand? Now you’re probably thinking that nobody is going to admit to this, particularly in public. But I believe that no one, in any way, regards themselves as a difficult person.

It’s the other guy

I’ve asked this question many times, and out of the hundreds of people who’ve attended this seminar, no one puts their hand up. They will, however, go on to tell me about all the difficult customers they have to deal with, their manipulative boss, their problem staff, and the neighbours who won’t keep their children under control.

These figures don’t add up; we have hundreds of people who don’t believe they are difficult, telling me about hundreds of people who are.

It’s hard to find anyone who admits to being difficult. But it’s obvious that we’ve all, probably, been difficult to another person at sometime in our life.

However, research tells us that there are only two percent of the population who are genuinely difficult. So, what causes this difficulty?

  1. Stress. Some people get stressed for all sorts of reasons. Often it’s just their inability to deal with aspects of their job and their personal life. They tend to blame other people and circumstances, but most often they have the answers within themselves.
  2. Personal problems. It’s fair to say that people sometimes have problems that are out with their control. A death in the family, breakdown of a marriage or a relationship, problems with children, or they may feel unwell and have health issues.
  3. Not competent to do the job. It’s often the case, in the workplace, that people find difficulty in doing their job and in finding help. Although they may not admit to this, they might feel inadequate and express their frustration by complaining, being negative and difficult.
  4. Don’t know they’re being difficult. Some people are not conscious of how they’re perceived by others. They believe that their behaviour is quite normal, and are unable to understand why some people see it otherwise.
  5. They see the world differently. We all see the world differently from each other. But some people’s programming causes them to become annoyed when others don’t see it as they see it.
  6. Low self esteem. Some people’s lack of self-confidence and belief in themselves, often causes them to be angry at the world. They believe that other people are out to do them down and that everything is against them.
  7. Lack of Acknowledgement. It could be that they have a massive need for acknowledgement either physical or psychological. A human’s need for acknowledgement is so strong that they’ll sometimes behave badly to get that acknowledgement.

I’m sure you’re aware of children who behave badly in school just to get attention – well, adults do it too. That person in your team, who gives you all sorts of problems which are often difficult to understand, may just be seeking acknowledgement. Withdrawing or failing to provide acknowledgement will cause people to become difficult.

So there you have it; it’s worth bearing this in mind, when you next have to manage a difficult person.

This is an excerpt from my book How to Manage Difficult People.7018_155572617408_699287408_2759755_4580853_n

Available worldwide from Amazon and all good book retailers.

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Employ People Who Think

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Old style management doesn’t encourage employees to think.not sure

That was certainly the case when I started work back in the bad old days, however it’s still prevalent in many businesses today.

It’s evident in many of the organisations that I work with that there’s a culture of – ‘I’m the boss – I tell you what to do – you don’t question it.’

The successful manager doesn’t react that way; he or she employs people who think!

They pick people with a mind of their own who aren’t afraid to say what they think and feel.

You need people who question, who challenge you as a manager.

If you want the job done…

I remember sitting in on a second interview with John, a manager client of mine who was interviewing candidates for a sales job. One of the candidates was a guy called Phil. He was a very strong character, full of questions and suggestions on how the job should be done.

John turned to me when Phil left the room – ‘That guy’s good, I reckon he’d be a good salesman for us, but I don’t think I could handle him.’

John was a much quieter type of person than Phil and I knew he felt uncomfortable with his style.

So I asked John – ‘What do you want this new salesman to do?’

‘I want him to bring in new business’ said John.

‘Do you think he can do that?’ I asked.

‘Of course I do, I just think he’ll be difficult to handle.’

It all comes down to outcomes. As a manager, what are you trying to achieve? What does your organisation and your boss want from you?

Don’t be scared

Of course you must consider how you’re going to work with a new team member, but you sometimes need to get out of your comfort zone and take a risk.

John hired Phil and he brought in the new business that John needed. Phil was always a handful and a challenge for John but they learned to work together.

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How to Motivate Your Employees – Accept Them

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Do you know one thing that is very important to most of your employees?great dane

If you want highly motivated and engaged employees then you need to be aware how important it is to understand them as individuals.

It’s important because it’s important to them.

As Dr Phillip C McGraw says in his book – Life Strategies – ‘The number one need among all people is acceptance.’

Your team want to know that you accept them from a work point of view but they also want you to accept them for just who they are.

Find out as much as you can about your employees; their background, where they’re from, families, pets hobbies, sports and their views on the world.

Find out their philosophies and faiths; how they think and how they feel. Just think about it like any other relationship – what do you want to know about this person?

Now I’m not suggesting you sit around all day gazing into each others eyes or spend half the night on the phone. I’m suggesting you do this over time and slowly but surely, build up your understanding of this person.

I also know that you’re starting to get a bit nervous about this and might think its prying. You’re also thinking that your team members won’t want you to get to know them that well. Let me reassure you – most of them will, if it’s done discretely.

Almost everyone wants to know that someone is genuinely and positively interested in them. They may not always give that impression by their demeanor but trust me – they want to know you care; they want acceptance from you.

If they know you care about them, that you accept them, then your relationship will be much more productive, and your business much more successful.

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8 Tips for Successful Job Interviewing

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1. Relax the applicant20130628-165259.jpg

This is nigh impossible to do because almost anyone being interviewed for a job will feel nervous. However, don’t make it harder for them by creating some kind of pressure chamber or interrogation room.

Be warm and friendly and welcoming however, don’t get into too much small talk or before long they’ll be telling you all about their last vacation in Florida.

2. Set the scene 

Let the applicant know that you want to find out if they have the talent to do the job you need. Make it clear that you will be asking some structured questions and that you want them to say how they feel and what they think. Explain that it could be different from any interview they’ve had before and that you want to make a decision that is best for both of you.

Make it clear that you’ll allow time at the end of the interview for them to ask any questions they have. However, let them know that if they’re invited back for a second interview then that would be the best time for them to ask questions.

This interview is where you will decide whether this person has the talent to do the job; it’s not where you talk about the duties involved, the benefits or the salary. You can get to all of that at a second interview. If they ask any questions about salary, (if hasn’t already been made clear) then there’s no reason not to tell them. In fact, I quite like people who want to know what they’re getting paid.

3. The questions

Based on the talent you’re looking for you need to have prepared questions before the interview. Do not interview by the seat of your pants and ask questions as you think of them. You could then end up just having a chat and you will never uncover the talent you’re looking for.

You’ve heard all the stuff about open and closed questions; what you want in an interview is open questions that allow the person to go in various directions. You want them to reveal how they would respond if faced with the situations you know they’ll encounter every day on the job.

Be careful that your questions don’t give the applicant a clue as to the information you want.

You have to be careful of questions that telegraph the answers you want. ‘What do you enjoy most about being a maintenance engineer?’ is going to get you answers like – ‘I enjoy the challenge of solving customer’s problems.’ – Yuck!

4. ‘Tell me about a time’ questions are good

If you were looking for a customer service person who you wanted to build good relationships with your key accounts, then you might ask a question such as – ‘Tell me about a time when you built a relationship with a customer.’

If the individual is good at building relationships then they’ll immediately respond with a case history. If they ask you – ‘What do you mean?’ simply repeat the question. If you start to prompt them or put the question in a different way, then you’re in danger of telegraphing the direction you want the applicant to take.

5. Listen for specifics

Some applicants will answer the above question with something like – ‘I have good relationships with all my customers, it’s difficult to give you a specific example.’

The reason they say that, is because they don’t have a specific example. They may just be a processor of customers and don’t really build good relationships.

The good guys will tell you stories such as ‘I’ve dealt with Susan at the Acme Tool Company for the past two years. We didn’t get on too well when I first made contact because we’d let her down on deliveries a couple of times. So I decided to set up a system whereby I’d contact Susan once a week and discuss the order situation with her. We get on really well now and she’s even asked me to come and visit her company.’

6. ‘How do you feel’ questions are also good

You might ask an applicant – ‘How do you feel when a customer is angry about the service from your company?’ You may get the response – ‘It’s no problem to me, I can handle it, water off a ducks back, I sort their problem out.’

If you were looking for someone with the talent to empathise with your customers, then you’re not getting it here. The response you’re looking for should be something like – ‘I feel really uncomfortable for the customer when we don’t get it right, I realise that it must be very frustrating for them. I listen carefully to what they have to say and make it clear that I do care about their situation and tell them what I’ll do to resolve it.’

7. ‘What gives you great personal satisfaction’ is another good question.

Every individual is different and what is personally satisfying for one may not be for another. I’m sure there are many jobs that you wouldn’t think of applying for no matter how much they paid.

I find it hard to understand what anyone would find satisfying in being an accountant or a dentist; however many people do. Some people find it really satisfying to turn round a difficult customer or negotiate a loan. Finding out what an applicant finds satisfying will give you clues to their talents.

8. Keep thinking

The benefits of having structured questions prepared beforehand means that you don’t need to be thinking about what to ask next. You can devote all of your time to listening for the information you need.

It’s also important to keep your thinking brain engaged, don’t let your heart rule your head. If they were to say – ‘I hate customers who don’t know what they want.’ Don’t think – ‘It’ll be okay, they probably don’t mean that.’

The thing is, they probably do and it may cause problems with their ability to build the customer relationships you need. The trick is to believe what the applicant says and don’t put your own interpretation on the answer.

Too often a manager will interview someone and realise that they may not quite have the talent they’re looking for. The manager then thinks – ‘It’ll be all right, once they’ve started in the job I’ll train them, or I’ll sort them out.’

You’ll only be able to bring out a talent that’s there in the first place, so you’re going to have to be sure that it’s there.

As long as the applicant is talking and you’re carefully listening and thinking then you’re more likely to pick up the information you need.



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Let’s Dump Performance Management Reviews

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Only 14% of organisations are happy with the Performance Management Reviews that they have in place, according to interview 3some recent research. And even fewer, 3%, are doing something about it.

I’ve never met and employee yet who felt that a performance review did anything positive for their career. It’s usually seen as a form filling exercise by both employees and managers just to keep the HR department happy.

What are managers doing?

It also lets managers off the hook as far as their day to day people management is concerned. It encourages them to be lazy and avoid any difficult issues. The thinking often is, ‘Just wait until their performance review and I’ll tell them all the things I’m not happy about then.’

Okay, I’ve now alienated certain HR people who probably want wring my neck! And I know there will be a strong argument for retaining reviews, but I have some real concerns as to their value in developing highly engaged workers.

This is taken from the blog link below:

Last year, a Fortune article cited survey results indicating that 98% of HR executives said annual performance appraisals were not useful.  This is partially due to a major disconnect between what senior management perceives to be happening and what actually happens.  For example, while 61% of employees say they would welcome immediate, on-the spot feedback from their managers on how they are doing, only 24% say they get it. Meanwhile, 54% of CEOs believe employees are getting feedback.

My thoughts:

Getting the best out employees isn’t about performance reviews, no matter how regular; it’s about day to day feedback and coaching on the job.

If some aspect of an employee’s work isn’t as it should be, it needs to be fixed now! And if an employee does something well, tell them now, not at their next review.

It’s a job for the line manager, and in the majority of organisations, it’s just not happening.

You can listen to the article here:

Let’s Dump Performance Management Reviews

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10 Tips to Talk With Anyone and Make an Impact

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1. Respect. I often hear people say ‘That person has to earn my respect.’ I suggest you give respect to everyone right from the start. That puts you in a positive frame of mind. If after getting to know that person you feel differently, perhaps you should try to see the world the way they see it.

2. Smile. When meeting someone for the first time, hold back the smile for a few seconds. Then when you smile it makes you appear more genuine.

3. Observe. Watch the person you are speaking to. How are they reacting to you? What does their body language tell you? Match that body language and the tone and volume of their voice.

4. Keep good eye contact. Don’t stare into their eyes and make them uncomfortable. Look away slowly now and again.

5. Focus. Keep the spotlight shining on the other person. Use the word ‘You’ more often than you use the word ‘I’ or ‘We.’

6. Knowledge. Be aware of what is going on the world. Take an interest in everything. Even if you know a little about a subject, it oils the wheels of conversation. I rarely buy a newspaper, but subscribe to a weekly magazine called The Week; that summarises all the articles of interest from newspapers and media throughout the world.

7. Bite your tongue. It has been said that people are either speaking or waiting to speak. When someone starts to talk about something or a place that you know about, resist the temptation to jump in!

8. Listen to the words. People are either auditory, visually or kinaesthetically driven. They will use words like – ‘I like the sound of that’ or ‘I like the look of that’ or ‘I like the feel of that. Echo that language back to them and it will build rapport.

9. Casually compliment. Slip in a genuine compliment now and again and move on quickly.

10. Say thank you. Remember your manners and always thank people for a compliment or for something they will do for you. Not – ‘Thanks’ but – ‘Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate it.’

If you would prefer to listen to this article and download it to your MP3 player, please go here.

Extract from: How to Make Sales when You Don’t Like Sellling

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3 FREE Ways to Motivate Your Employees

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There are many ways to motivate employees, and many organisations to help you do that.

You could:

  • Set up an incentive scheme.

    The Motivation Doc is thinking

    The Motivation Doc is thinking (Photo credit: motivationdoc)

  • Pay a bonus for results
  • Arrange for an increase in salary
  • Provide new working materials
  • Upgrade the workplace
  • Offer free healthcare
  • Dental care
  • Company car
  • Pension plans
  • Free mobile phone

And many other tangible benefits

The only thing is; all these take time, cost money, and have limited motivational effect over the long term.

And if you really think about it, these external motivators are nowhere near as effective as internal motivation.

If you want highly motivated employees who don’t take time off work, and don’t keep looking for other jobs. People who make a positive contribution to your business; then there are three things you need to do.

1. Spend some quality time

I didn’t say ‘quantity time’ I said ‘quality time.’ One or two minutes of quality time on a regular basis are far more productive than a one hour review every month or every year. Not saying to forget the Punch In And Out time clock, though.

You need to get to know your individual employees better and they need to get to know you. It will help you build a relationship with each individual. You’ll gain a much better understanding of them and how they’re handling the job.

It will also give the impression that you care about them as individuals and show that you’re there to help with problems both personal and business.

Spending quality time will encourage opinions and ideas to flow from them and allows you to explain the company’s mission.

It gives them a feeling of being in on things which is a big motivator. It will also help you build an early warning system of any problems both business and personal.

Finally, it builds team spirit and morale.

2. Give feedback and coach

You need to regularly tell each employee when they’re doing well and when not so well.

Some recent research reported that 65% of employees in the US received no recognition at work in the past year. My experience tells me that it’s much the same throughout the world and much worse in some countries.

Some managers still believe, ‘Why should I praise people when they’re only doing what they’re paid to do.’

It’s also important to tell people when they’re not performing. There are too many managers who either ignore poor behaviour, or come down on the person like a ton of bricks.

There are particular ways to give feedback and coach and they’re described in detail in the book, How to be a Motivational Manager.

Cover of "How to Be a Motivational Manage...

Cover via Amazon

3. Be a believer

Trust and believe in your employees. Utilize the knowledge, skill, experience and motivational power that’s already within your people. The majority of people in teams and organisations throughout the world are severely underutilized.

Your staff have probably more to offer in terms of skill, knowledge and experience. If you can utilize that, you’ll build a self-motivating team and achieve your business goals.

And of course, it’s FREE!

If you want to listen to the podcast of this article and download it, please go here.

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Reprimanding is a Waste of Time

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Have you ever been reprimanded by a teacher, or your parents or perhaps your boss. I’m sure you must have been at some time unless you’re a real angel!

How did you feel?

When I ask managers on my learning events I get answers such as:

I felt

  • Embarrassed
  • Bad
  • De-motivated
  • Hurt
  • Stupid
  • Angry
  • Annoyed

And several other negative feelings.

Sometimes I hear; ‘I will never do that again!’ And then they go on to say; ‘But I don’t want to work for that manager.’

Why is reprimanding a waste of time?

It’s a one-way process. It’s all about the person giving the reprimand, not about resolving what the reprimand is all about.

It de-motivates the employee. It de-motivates the rest of the team, if they are aware of it. It’s bad for morale, it’s bad for customer service, and it’s bad for sales.

And how does the manager feel? Most managers don’t like having to reprimand someone, they don’t feel good about it, and resultantly it’s stressful for them.

Managers who reprimand also spend a lot more time replacing employees who leave.

Reprimanding is a complete waste of time and energy.

What’s the alternative?  

Coaching is about finding out the cause of poor performance or behaviour and discussing with the team member about how to put it right.

It’s about behaviour you’re not happy with.

Behavior that will stop you achieving your outcomes

This is not some softly-softly approach; it’s being very clear about what you’ve seen, heard or been made aware of.

It’s about listening to what the employee has to say, gaining commitment to change, and agreeing positive action to make it happen.

What are the consequences?

  • The employee feels good
  • More productive behavior
  • The employee knows what’s expected
  • They are motivated to change
  • They know you care
  • It ensures a happy, engaged and motivated team

And a happy and engaged team means more customers, clients or guests; more sales and more profits.

To listen to the podcast of this article, please go here.

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