If you've ever found yourself being called into a performance management meeting, you know the anxiety that you can experience.
That feeling that you're going to be criticized and reprimanded, and pulled to pieces for the quality of your work. Or maybe you know that you've made a mistake and you're kicking yourself, that you could've done better. Maybe there's a sequence of things that have happened that have led to this point.
So here are some tips on how you can arm yourself to go into the situation where you're going to be dealing with challenging behavior, and where you're feeling uncomfortable or nervous in that situation.
Identify the Problem
You're going into this meeting either consciously incompetent or unconsciously incompetent and that means that you're either really aware of the mistakes that you've made, the problems that have arisen, the issues that have occurred, or you're not aware and you know that's going to be brought to your attention in the meeting.
If you're unaware of what the issues are, spend some time considering what they may be. Give some thought to where your skills may not be at a standard that is expected. If you are consciously aware, you need to be able to clearly articulate what you believe the problem is. Walking into a meeting being able to say, "This is what I know the issue to be. I know that this is my weakness or problem."
How Did It Happen
Once you can clearly articulate the problem, the next step is to be able clearly communicate what lead to it happening. So what were the incidents? What happened to allow this mistake, issue or under performance occur? Did you not have enough time, did you not have the skills, were you not well informed, did you not have the resources, was there an error in judgment? What specifically were the things that lead to this incident occurring? And there might be a few but just break them down one by one.
How Will You Fix It
What are you going to do to rectify the problem? How can you make good on the situation? And/or what will you do differently to make sure that it doesn't happen again? So, for example, a business that had made a mistake with a client, product, or service, would give them a refund, or give them a discount to another service, or offer some way of making good on the mistake. Another example is a company where an employee has been involved in a work place injury. The response is definitely a workplace incident process that follows a chain of communication. It will be about making sure the employee's cared for and able to integrate back into the workplace. Also making sure that whatever's happened to made the incident occur is prevented. Replacing equipment or putting in safety measures.
Communicate Your Needs for a Successful Outcome
To make good on your offer, to be able to fulfil your promise, you need to communicate what you need, to ensure that you can deliver on this promise. The key element to this is asking questions. Asking the person sitting opposite you what it is that they want, what it is that they expect, what would they have liked to have happened? What's the right way to do something? What's the outcome that they want? What are their expectations?
And then, this is one that's often missed, is to paraphrase back to that person. "So, what you're telling me is this, this, and this. What you'd like from me is this. Your expectations are, are this. What you would've preferred to happen is this." And so, once you've established that, you're then able to say, "Great. In order for me to be able to do that, what I need from you is this, this, and this."
Trust in Your Expertise
It's important to remember in going into a situation like this, that you've been employed, or you've been engaged in this work, because of your skills and your expertise. You've been put in this position because you're the right person for the job. It’s important to remember that when you go into a conversation like this, you need to be able to speak from your professional standpoint. "In my opinion, this is the best way to move forward. This is what I feel is the best thing to do." And feel okay to speak from that standpoint.
However, you also need to be mindful that change is inevitable and for you to be able to grow, succeed, improve, and develop you need to be malleable, you need to be open to new ideas, to be flexible and willing to adapt to change. That is a willing to take on new ideas, new methods, or new ways of doing things. It may not be what you agree to but maybe it's what the other person in front of you, needs from you.
Get to Know the Other Person.
Try to understand the point of view of the person in front of you. If you've ever done any personality profiling, this is a great way to be able to understand the needs of the person in front of you. Are they a direct person and they need things in black and white? Were you being to verbose? Or are they a person that likes to feel in control? They may want to be made aware of problems before they arise. If you can get good at understanding the personality traits of the person in front of you and how they're different to you, you may find that your communication strengthens.
It is in your best interest to know your personality traits really well. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and work to those. So, ideally you can go into a meeting and say, "This is what I'm good at. I know I can do this. But this is where I'm challenged. I know these are not my strong points. I may not be good at this, so I need help in this area, or I'm going to call upon support in this area to be able to address this weakness that I have."
You’ll find the right language to use to communicate this but most definitely you’ll want to use language like communication, productivity rather than feely, touchy words.
Avoid pointing the finger at the person in front of you saying, "I don't like it when you do this. You make me feel like this." You can approach the issues of someone’s behaviour or the way that they work with you without personally criticising them. It's better to be able to address things by putting the energy back onto you.
For example, saying, "I feel like this when we're in this situation. I would feel better if we did this. I work better when you communicate with me face-to-face rather than email. I prefer a phone call, if possible." Essentially you’re saying "This is me. This is what I need in order to be able to give you what you want." As my husband says to my children, "Help me to help you."
Would you like to become more emotionally resilient?
If you are feeling stressed at work, particularly by the behaviour of others, I may be able to provide you with some resilience strategies. Book in a time for a chat. I can’t promise I can fix everything, but the next best thing I can do is to chat with you. Make a time that suits you for a 15-minute chat. Once I know you better (and you know me) we can decide if you want to dig a little deeper into the issues and can organise a free Stress Management Strategy session.
About the Author:
Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia. She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing. She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things. She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia. Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford.