A middle aged man was fired this week. A young, single mother is likely to follow. Two people with the same problem – they both have two faces.
Even children know the difference between fantasy and deception. Occasionally, there are adults who walk the line between the two without being conscious of their own duplicity.
The middle aged man consistently said that he would do things and then never did them. He always had excuses. His excuses usually involved blaming whoever confronted him about his lapses. In fact, he had mastered the art of turning things around to make other people look bad when he was the one who dropped the ball.
The young, single mother is also deceptive. She has mastered the art of repeating policy and agreeing to actively participate in her company’s endeavors. Then she simply does something else. When confronted, she repeats the policies again and agrees to her duties.
No one can afford to have an employee who doesn’t pull his or her own weight. When we like people and want to see them make progress, we give them chances to spontaneously improve.
The fact is that duplicity is not easily overcome. It requires intervention from the people closest to them. Here are three steps for making them accountable, preserving their jobs, and strengthening your relationship.
1) When you notice a pattern of duplicity, make your agreements formal. Sit and agree to duties, a timeline, and how their activities will be monitored. If the employee is offended, agree to how long this level of intervention will be implemented. If the duplicity is just a bad habit, the new patterns will take over and you won’t have to monitor them long. If the behavior is deeply embedded, the behavior will continue and you will have documentation to take the next steps with minimal legal ramifications.
2) If the employee’s duties aren’t clear or subject to change, it is time to solidify what you want them to do. A detailed job description will be helpful. Once you have it in writing, you both have parameters that you must stick to. Evaluations can be based on the job description and you both can monitor the activities that the employee is responsible for without blaming.
3) The most important thing to do is keep the intervention private. Let the employee know that you see inconsistency and do not fall into the trap of arguing about why they are not doing what they are supposed to do. Arguing is just another way to avoid taking the actions that they should have done. Document your conversations. Keep track of the things that they have agreed to and privately discuss their progress on individual tasks. Maintain trust if it is possible. The personal connection could make the person accountable to you. This is effective if the person does not understand the bug picture. In time you can show the person how their actions affect others and how they are accountable to them.
Unfortunately, not everyone fully understands what it means to be responsible, to play a role, or accountability. Part of our function as employers is to help them develop into more professional people. What may seem like “hand holding” is actually professional development. If any of the actions that I suggested go on for very long, consider whether the employee is really ready to become a professional.
Dr. LaMar researches, writes, and speaks about mentoring relationships among professional women. Her weekly e-newsletter is availble every Wednesday. Sign up at http://www.DramaFreeWorkplace.com Dr. LaMar also consults with growing businesses about how personality and processes can affect workplace dynamics. Her books “God Provides The Sacrifice: Women Discuss Making Their Hardest Decision" and “Drama Free Workplace" can be purchased in e-book format and paperback from her web sites or by calling 806-293-4094. Buy the Book! God Provides The Sacrifice: Women Discuss Making Their Hardest Decisions