Essentially, it is difficult (if not impossible) to change the behavior of some employees. Generally speaking, the only way you can hope to modify or change someone’s behavior is by:
- Making them aware of their behavior;
- Advising them of the impact of their behavior on others;
- Creating an environment which requires the person to change, and providing them with the skills/training needed to modify their behavior;
- Clearly defining the expected changes and reinforcing the changes in behavior when they are observed;
- Confronting the employee each time the employee responds inappropriately. Over time they may realize that you will no longer tolerate their inappropriate behavior;
- Clearly defining the consequences for failure to change and invoking the consequences if they fail to change;
- Documenting your interview(s).
To communicate your required behavioral changes, a six part message format can be used. It is designed to get the employees attention, to focus on their behavior, and inform them of the consequences for failure to change.
- Describe their behavior.
- Describe how their behavior affects the group.
- Describe how their behavior affects the coworker who is the recipient of their behavior (if appropriate).
- Describe how you feel about their behavior.
- Describe your future performance expectations.
- Describe the sanctions for failure to change.
And of course, DOCUMENT the conversation and have the employee agree on the behavior changes.
* This is an excerpt from Working With Difficult Employee Problems a Mastering Leadership Skills seminar.