Never Reprimand an Employee

February 6 - never reprimand (2)

During a coaching session with an inexperienced Executive Director, the advice she had received from a Board member was to “reprimand” her employee. As a team dynamics specialist, this sent chills through me. The energy of the word “reprimand” is one of parental, power, and control. And let’s face it, who wants to be to reprimanded or controlled?

At the same time, I was reading Brene Brown’s book Dare to Lead and right at the chapter about shame. When we reprimand someone, we tend to shame them. And shame creates isolation and lack of team cohesion. So, if an employee is having challenges, simply hold them accountable for their behaviour.

Accountability is a process of mutual respect and encouragement. And, when done well, will enhance your relationship with the employee and build trust within your team.

Here are 5 things to consider when you need to hold a team member accountable:

  1. Make it about behaviour. Don’t fall into the vague notion of “bad attitude”, instead share the specific behaviours that create concern and how these impact your employee, team, and organization.
  2. Don’t make it about you and your personal preferences. Instead, focus on what is best for the organization as a whole.
  3. Be aware of your old wounds and personal triggers so you don’t work them out with your team. For example, if you have a tendency to feel that people are undermining you, get some coaching to work through this. Many times, when we work through our wounds, others simply show up differently.
  4. Be honest, and lean in. Don’t avoid these important conversations; instead, have so much esteem for your team member that you honour them by being respectfully honest and encouraging. After all, how can they make changes if they are not aware of what needs to change?
  5. Ask questions to understand where they were coming from. Avoid the use of “why” as it has an undertone of blame. Blame leads to shame. Instead, ask them to help you understand their rationale for their choice.

Let me be clear here, I’m not saying to ignore inappropriate or unhelpful behaviour! Instead, help them see the impact that is experienced by others when they engage in the behaviour. Help them to understand that it’s in the best interest of all (including them) to shift their behaviour.

When you regularly use these five hints, you will find better results. Shift from blame and shame (reprimand) to openness and caring (accountability). Build the trust on your team and get even greater respect from your employees.

Bonus Point: Just as you are about to go into the accountability meeting, make a list of 3 things that you appreciate about the employee. This will enable you to start the conversation from a place of caring and make it easier for the other person to hear. Through this type of honest connection, people listen better and respond more openly too!

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