Now that I have that image burned into your brain, let me state that this has absolutely nothing to do with hamburgers. What I do want you to see in your mind's eye is the way a hamburger is made with a bun and a piece of meat in between. By the way, you can use any type of bun. It does not, for this exercise, have to be a sesame seed bun.
This entire exercise has to do with mistakes. I'm assuming that most of you have employees, and employees do sometimes make mistakes. How do you deal with that? That's where my hamburger comes in. I'm sure that now it is all clear to you. Right? Okay, I'll back up and walk you through the kitchen again. When an employee makes a mistake, many react and go into a rage instead of using that opportunity to teach the employee. Have you got that so far? Good! Let's move ahead.
Now put the image of the hamburger back in your mind's eye. You have a bun on top, the hamburger in the middle, and the bun on the bottom. The bun on top is where you will start. It reminds you to start off by telling your employee what you appreciate about them. If you begin with a compliment, you have a better chance of having them listen to the rest of what you have to say about them.
Now let's get to the "meat" of the problem. The meat is your opportunity to give them some steps to help them get back on track. I would suggest that you keep those steps down to just two or three. You need to make sure that you are specific, and that the steps are easy for them to follow. It works better if the steps are progressive, and you need to explain each step and why they will help. It never hurts to put this whole process in writing so they can refer back to it, and if they don't work at it, you now have it documented in writing in their file.
That now brings us to the bottom bun, and as we finish the hamburger, you need to encourage them again and set a date to follow up to check their progress. This is very important so that the matter is not just dropped until your employee makes the same mistake again. It also couldn't hurt to remind them that you are there to help them and offer your support.
That's the entire process. No special sauce to worry with or mayo to spread on! You now have an image to remind you how to deal with an employee's mistake, and take that mistake and use it as an opportunity to teach, not to destroy.
Here's another reminder for you. Before any of this is in place, you need to make sure that you have taken care of step one and step two. What, you ask, are step one and step two? I will tell you. Step one is to have an office manual which spells out all the rules and regulations for your office: what the hours are, dress code (if any), sick leave policy, etc. This is a must. I don't care how small your office is, every office needs to have an office manual.
Step two is just as important as step one. You need to have a job description for every employee. What are their duties? Who do they report to? Why, you ask, do you need this? If you feel is not doing their job, have you communicated to them what their job is? Maybe you assumed that they knew what their job was. That sounds like there is a lack of communication here. It also sounds like the employee may want to have their attorney communicate with you. By the way, their attorney knows what his job is. Do you get my point? If not, you will get their attorney's point.
When you hire any employee, you need to give them a copy of your office manual and their job description and tell them to read it. Next, have them sign a form that states that they have read both and understand both. Make sure you keep that form in case you need it for future reference. As procedures or jobs change, make sure each employee gets a new copy and signs a new form stating that they have received the new, updated office manual/job description and have read it and understand it. That new form will be tucked in their file right on top of their old form.
That's it. The hamburger is now complete with fries and a large Coke: a neat way to deal with your employee and truly "have it your way!"
Stanley Greenfield, RHU
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