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When Employees Disappoint

Facility managers should approach employee behavior and performance shortcomings like a counselor or a coach.

Employee behavioral and performance mistakes will occur. How you respond to these employee shortfalls determines the degree to which these mistakes will affect your fitness center. If you take the appropriate steps, employee mistakes can become opportunities for organizational improvement.

Why employees fail

When employees make mistakes or fail to achieve expectations, the tendency is to look at the employee as intentionally misbehaving or intentionally missing a performance outcome. While in rare occurrences this may be the case, more often than not, employee behavioral and performance shortfalls can be linked to the decisions and actions of the organization.

The behavior and performance of an employee usually fall short for one or more reasons, including the following:

  • Expectations were not clearly communicated to the employee, or the employee did not understand the expectations.
  • The facility did not provide the employee with sufficient resources and\or support.
  • The employee took a risk in order to increase the magnitude of his or her performance, or the performance of the facility.
  • The employee made an error in judgment.
  • Management made a hiring error (e.g., did not hire someone with the right values, skills or experience).

Counseling and coaching

When addressing these behavior and performance issues, supervisors should identify the root of the problem, and create a plan to correct the situation, which may involve being both a counselor and a coach. The word "counseling" denotes a process of discovery and support, while coaching refers to education, guidance and motivation. Together, the principles underlying these two processes can help turn unexpected mistakes into long-term successes.

Counseling principles

Among the key counseling principles are the following:

Listening. Listening has a number of goals, including building trust, strengthening a relationship, learning about the issues and getting the employee to open up. A good listener gets employees to identify the issues on their own.

Reiterating what is heard. Counselors reiterate what they heard the employee say, helping to clarify the issues.

Confirming the issues. A counselor confirms what the real issues seem to be. This process of confirmation also involves getting the employee to agree or admit that these issues exist.

Helping the person commit to making a change. Behavior and the resulting outcomes of the behavior cannot change until the employee first agrees that a change has to occur. A counselor helps an employee make a personal commitment to change.

Identifying a course of action. Once employees commit to change, the counselor should then help them to identify the appropriate action steps to take.

Support. A counselor supports an employee's actions related to changing a behavior. This support may manifest itself in a number of ways, including listening, providing recommendations and/or providing resources.

Keeping the person honest. A counselor can help keep employees on target, which sometimes involves making sure they are honest with themselves about the issues, their commitment to change and the steps they are taking.

Coaching principles

Among the key coaching principles are the following:

Clarify the expectations. Coaches establish behavior and performance expectations for individuals and teams.

Reinforce the expectations. Coaches never assume that an expectation is clear, and, as a result, they find multiple ways to reinforce the desired performance outcomes.

Teach. Coaches teach employees the attributes and skills they need to achieve an expectation.

Repetition. Coaches spend considerable time providing "repetitions." They understand that, to achieve a desired performance outcome, a behavior has to be repeated until it becomes second nature.

Listen and connect. Coaches spend time listening and observing. They focus on getting to know the employee and what makes that person tick.

Motivating. Coaches find ways to motivate.

Discipline. Coaches focus on discipline. Discipline is not about punishment. Rather, it is about maintaining commitment and focus to achieve a desired outcome.

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