Performance Counseling Activity
This short activity will help the learners gain an understanding of what factors influence the decision to counsel. It is required before moving on to activity 2.
Directions: Break the class into small groups and have them discuss the reading below. Once they have read and discussed it (about 10 to 15 minutes), have each group list 3 or 4 examples on a flipchart for each of the four factors when deciding to confront.
After they have had time to complete the activity, bring the groups back together and discuss their examples. Ensure they understand that:
They must closely reflect on their personal belief system when deciding to confront... some of their experiences are good for the situation, while others will bias the situation (Personal Belief System).
They should listen to others in the organization, but as the supervisor or manager, they have the final decision-making authority on how to approach the situation... and they should do so as a leader, not as a friend or enemy (Organizational Belief System).
Laws and regulations will have a big impact on the situation... else the organization could face fines and/or lawsuits. (Objective Standards).
The Factual Reference Base is the main guiding force that will help them to select the right thing to do — Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. — Warren Bennis.
What is Performance Counseling?
Performance Counseling (also called confrontation counseling) is not yelling, making accusations, pounding your fists on the table, or getting in someone's face. Neither is it nagging, condemning, or belittling a person.
Counseling is making an employee face the evidence of their performance or behavior and requiring them to decide about their future. Confronting is most successfully performed before there is a major incident. This is when the issues deal primarily with performance deterioration.
Factors in a Decision to Confront
There are four main influencing factors when someone makes a decision to confront an employee: Personal Belief System, Organizational Belief System, Objective Standards, and Factual Reference Base.
The Personal Belief System includes:
- cultural attitudes
- unique experiences
- personal beliefs
- personal attitudes
This is how a person looks and reacts to life, people, and events. For example, a retired Army sergeant, who is use to people being on time, will probably have less tolerance for employees who are late than someone who has worked at home for the last 10 years. Another example is a non-drinking supervisor who has had a close family member killed by a drunk driver will normally have a different view on a substance abuser than someone who likes to go out and have a few drinks after work.
The Organizational Belief System includes:
- employee-individual expectations
- employee-group expectations
- peer group expectations
- upper-level leadership expectations
This is made up of the personal beliefs of individuals in different roles within the organization. For example, someone who is operating a forklift on a plant floor in an unsafe manner has specific expectations on how you should look at confrontation when dealing with his or hers unsafe practices. Your peers and the employee's peers will have similar or contradictory expectations ranging from eliminating a safety risk to expecting compassion and leniency, while your managers might want you to solve the problem without making waves.
The Objective Standards include:
- company standards
- industry standards
- applicable laws and regulations
These are the laws, regulations, and workplace standards that set an objective standard or baseline.
The Factual Reference Base includes:
- realistic understanding of consequences
- aware of helping resources
- punitive consequences
- factual knowledge
- confidence in process
The employee must realize that as uncomfortable as the process is, confrontation counseling works.
The Personal Belief System, the Organizational Belief System, and the Objective Standards are the foundation for the Factual Reference Base — how the employee will view the process. And for the process to work it must be viewed with confidence. There must be faith in the system.
This activity is used in conjunction with the chapter on Leadership and Motivation
Return to the Leadership Training and Development Outline