How to handle well-adjusted (and not-so-well-adjusted) employees
A friend and Graceful Leadership blog reader emailed me after the last post and said that she was glad to hear that the recent chiropractic visit helped Grace and that she hoped Grace continued to be “well-adjusted.”
Of course, I loved that she cared about Grace. And at the same time, it struck my funny bone because the words “well-adjusted” and Grace don’t normally appear in the same sentence. As we all know, my adorable little pooch is really quite neurotic.
Nevertheless, the play on words got me thinking.
When you think of a well-adjusted person, you think of a good employee, right? I do. I think of someone “normal.” Someone who brings a rationale, cooperative approach to the workplace. Someone I’d like to work with because they don’t introduce their baggage. It’s the superstar, the top performer that gets results.
But it’s important to keep in mind that just because they make it look easy, it doesn’t mean they don’t have their challenges.
The tendency of managers is to forget that these low-maintenance employees do require care and attention. Since the well-adjusted types go about their business quietly, managers can find themselves forgetting to carry out their fundamental management activities, like saying thank you or simply asking how things are going.
We should not take these easy-to-work-with employees for granted. They likely have some challenges or roadblocks that you can (and should) help with, even if they aren’t complaining about it.
Effective managers understand that no matter how well-adjusted a person is, he still needs support. Support comes in many forms. But the best way is an action step that every manager can do. There is no excuse that I can think of that would let you off the hook for this (drum-roll, please)….
How do you handle well-adjusted (and not-so-well-adjusted) employees?
Talk to them! It’s really that simple.
This solution may seem too simple, too obvious. But you and I both know that there are many, many, far too many, workplaces conversations that never happen. Similar to formal performance evaluations, these efforts take a back seat to more pressing daily tasks.
The other day, I conducted an exit interview for a small company that does not have a dedicated human resources department. When I talked to the employee to learn about his experiences and what prompted his resignation, he said his primary reason for leaving was because he wasn’t making enough money. I’m sure there was some truth to that, but it’s not the whole truth. Money is never a long-term motivator. Compensation needs to be fair, but when people have a laundry list of other issues, the money becomes the easy scapegoat, but isn’t really the root cause.
The real problem was that the employee and manager had never discussed this — along with many other important topics. Having the conversation doesn’t mean the problem will be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. In this case, the employee had the perception that the organization could not financially afford a raise. But when the two parties have had no discussion, there is no way to build awareness and understanding of the decision.
As managers, we have to pursue the dialogue. It’s not enough to assume that because the topic hasn’t been raised, that the employee is satisfied. Trust is built through open discussion, whether you can accommodate the request or not.
I work hard to find ways that Grace can handle life even though she is not well-adjusted. I certainly don’t always succeed. But I hope that she knows that I’m trying. And that’s how your employees should feel about you, too.
What stories can you share that illustrate the support of your employees? Or perhaps a situation that you’ve witnessed around a lack of support? Leave a comment and help us all learn through your experiences.
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