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Challenge: I have a difficult employee that has already left and used to throw me under the bus in front of clients. I would respond by getting heated. I’ve always wondered what I could have done differently.
Coach Response: Here’s the thing. You two were not aligned on values. The best news about having this kind of experience is that you’ll recognize it better and that is part of the process of learning how to lead and manage people. You’ll bump into enough of these people and you’ll think, “OK I need to give someone some direction and see how they take it. I need to correct someone and see how they take it.” How people accept feedback is critical. If you say, “Please don’t do that. I don’t ever want you to do that in that way again.” See how they respond. Did they answer with, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t even think about that. Can you help me know why?” Or did they say, “Well you told me…”? That’s the stuff that we need to look for because it tells us whether or not we will be in alignment.
Can people change behavior? Absolutely. Do they often? No. Think about yourself and how hard it is to make change in your behavior. It’s easier as you get more comfortable with establishing those values, communicating them, interviewing for them, assessing people for them through a project or an “on the job” day. I want you to believe that was an incredible experience and you learned so much from it. In the future, if someone were to say in front of a client, “Well, you know, she shouldn’t have done that,” you pull them into another room and say, “I want to be very clear. We don’t ever throw one another under the bus ever again. I won’t do it to you and if you do it to me, we will have to evaluate whether you continue to work here. It’s totally unprofessional.” By addressing it, we nip some of that in the bud.
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