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Dear Workforce How To Retain An Overzealous Employee

Listen first, critique later.
May 13, 2001
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Related Topics: Motivating Employees, Dear Workforce
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QDear Workforce:

My client has recruited a technically brilliant employee whose skills areindispensable. In his previous role as a self-managed employee with a largecompany, he was allowed free reign to do everything from his technical work toordering supplies, customer service, giving quotes and paying accounts.

While his new role requires him only to use his technical skills, he can'tstop taking on these extra tasks (for which there are suitably skilled staff),thus causing a great deal of tension. Despite many counseling sessions, he stillappears not to understand his new role. Besides developing a specific jobdescription, what else can I do to get the message across?

- Human Resources consultant, business development center, Brisbane,Australia

ADear Peter:

The natural impulse in that situation is to sit down and try to explainthings to him: "Here's what your job is supposed to be, here's what you'redoing, and here's why it's disrupting things." His natural reaction islikely to explain his actions or become defensive: "I'm just trying tohelp. I've done all these things before and I can do it much quicker without thetypical bureaucracy we face around here." This is not very productive orenjoyable for either party.

A better approach is to schedule an hour to listen to the employee. Find outwhat he cares about and what he is trying to accomplish. Ask him how he sees hisrole relative to other people's roles. Get him to talk about what kind ofcontribution he wants to make and what he needs from the company in order tocontribute. Ask lots of questions and wait quietly for him to open up. Don'tchallenge him or explain your views until he says he has nothing more to add.

Once you know what he cares about and what he's trying to do, help himaccomplish those goals in ways that are more productive to the organization. Ifhe wants to have a positive impact, show him how to channel that motivation sohis impact can be most positive. Explain that some of his actions in the pasthave had the opposite effect. If he wants to move quickly, show him how theshort-term impact is positive for him, but the long-term impact actually slowshim down even more. By addressing his motivators and speaking his language, hewill begin to understand what he needs to do differently.

SOURCE: David B. Peterson, Ph.D., senior vice president at PersonnelDecisions International (PDI) and practice leader for PDI's worldwide coachingservices, Feb. 9.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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