Are You Delivering 'Straight Talk' To Employees Who Need It?

BY Kathy Crosett
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There’s no denying that improving organization culture is a hot topic these days. Much of the advice being given relates to being a good role model and recognizing employee success. These activities build employee trust and loyalty. But, the constant positive feedback won’t do much for employees who need to focus on specific aspects of personal style if they want to get ahead.

Carter Cast recently authored an article for ChiefExecutive​.net that addresses the topic of "straight talk." Cast is particularly interested in why up to 67% of talented employees fail to advance in an organization. In many cases, managers can trace the problem to underperformance. According to Cast, a top source of trouble is employee inability to "work well with others." These folks may be failing to prioritize work the way you’ve asked them to, and thus cause a domino effect of missed deadlines. They may be abrasive and rude in meetings. Or, they may be monopolizing meetings and not allowing others to express their opinions.

As a manager, you likely enjoy the times when you can praise an employee and hand out a reward. You may be less than enthusiastic about delivering bad news – such as when an employee is not showing the kind of team effort that will help their career and the organization. The longer you put off this exchange, the harder it’s likely to be.

You can improve this situation by establishing regular one-​on-​one meetings. Whether you chat with your employees once a week or once every two weeks, set a clear agenda. Compliment employees on what they are doing well. Then, point out where they can improve.

The feedback works best when you keep it simple, direct and relate it to employee goals. Say something like, “Great work on preparing the agenda for the meeting. Not so great that you left the meeting before the accounting manager was done giving the departmental update. If you want accounting to grant your request to issue weekly updates on booking revenue,  stay seated and attentive in those meetings – until they end.” If the employee protests, ask how they feel when people walk out of meetings when they’re making an important point.

Consistent feedback, delivered regularly and with specific examples, will help your team members improve their ability to work well with others.