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So I have a direct who has violated my companies allowed unscheduled time off because of a sickness, and to top it off this direct is also out of time off. They called me tonight to apologize for leaving me short handed. I told them it was no problem (even though it was) and that we will sort out the attendance stuff when they get back. They then asked me what I meant. I told them that they have exceeded 2 unscheduled days off in a 30 day period. They then fired back with that they will be contacting their attorney and calling my supervisor tomorrow. I asked them why the felt this was necessary when no disciplinary action was going to be taken, they replied back saying that if they are going to be harassed for taking days off for being sick then it is what they have to do. I'm not too nervous about this because I have documented everything and know I am right. My problem is when this person comes back to work and I have to get them to sign the formal document I know they are not going to have the best attitude about the situation. I have already done the paperwork and the form is simply a formal document that the employee, my boss, HR, and I get. There is no disciplinary action that gets taken it just simply says they have exceeded the allowed time off. Any tips to help make this go smoother?

A brief background on this individual, whenever they hear something that is not the most pleasant of things they immediately become defensive and the conversation mine as well be over.

tomw's picture

be careful with words like "attitude" and "defensive." You can't prove them.

You should focus on things you can prove, like how often the person is out of work. Even that you might have to be careful of. If your company provides sick time, it's hard to penalize someone for taking it, even if they have exceeded their allowance. If the person really was sick, do you want them spreading their illness all over the workplace?

It sounds to me like you should focus more on the issue that the person has used their allotted time off and needs to consider taking vacation days or other ways of making it up.

What kind of feedback have you been giving this person before this?

jrfireboy2's picture

My company only provides one type of leave, besides ones such as FMLA, Military... Every employee gets 12 hours a month. Sick, or not if you don't have the time you have to use time off without pay. This employee doesn't have attendance issues normally however they are the top person to use their leave on my shift. Again the only reason why I say words like "attitude" and "defensive" is because that is this employee's typical M.O. when being told something "bad".

jrfireboy2's picture

Oh sorry, as far as the type of feedback, recently it has been that they did not receive an increase from the market review, and when a member of their family was dying and they had no leave I informed them of the time off without pay program.

WillDuke's picture

What's their personality profile? What's yours?

From your initial post, I'd peg you as a probable D. I surmise this because of the direct language you use. I don't think you intend it to be aggressive, but to certain personality types it is. For instance "violate." This word implies an intention that the direct is probably uncomfortable with. "Formal Document" is another loaded phrase. You already know they're "not going to have the best attitude."

Do you find yourself frequently clashing unintentionally with this direct? If you're really interested in improving the relationship, spend some time reviewing their patterns of communication. Adjust your delivery and see what happens. I suspect you'll be pleasantly surprised.

jrfireboy2's picture

When everything is going good there are no issues, and I talk to everyone daily that works for me. They didn't call out tonight so we will see how it goes. I guess the thing that really ticks me off is that this person knows I am 100% fair with attendance issues. I will look at revising my documentation to avoid "strong" words to kind of soften it a little.

US41's picture

[quote="jrfireboy2"]So I have a direct who has violated my companies allowed unscheduled time off because of a sickness, and to top it off this direct is also out of time off. They called me tonight to apologize for leaving me short handed. I told them it was no problem (even though it was) and that we will sort out the attendance stuff when they get back. They then asked me what I meant. I told them that they have exceeded 2 unscheduled days off in a 30 day period. [/quote]

Don't tell your employees something is not a problem when it is. That's dishonest. If something they have done is a problem, then give them immediate feedback. "When you take time off without notifying us, then it leaves me short-handed, I have to do extra work, and then the company rules require that I confront you with it and address the issue. What can you do differently next time?"

"But I was sick, and a thousand other arguments under heaven!!!"

"That's nice. Not calling in when sick is unacceptable. What will you do differently next time?"

[quote]They then fired back with that they will be contacting their attorney and calling my supervisor tomorrow. I asked them why the felt this was necessary when no disciplinary action was going to be taken, they replied back saying that if they are going to be harassed for taking days off for being sick then it is what they have to do. I'm not too nervous about this because I have documented everything and know I am right. [/quote]

Them's fightin' words.

1. Hopefully you have lots of one on one forms recording various feedback you have given over the months saying "Suggested they change this and they raised their voice and said __[i]insert quote here[/i]__."

2. Go to your boss and HR immediately to inform them of the conversation. Recount the conversation as literally as you can. Bring your one on one forms with you to show the pattern of behavior that repeats that shows belligerence and defensiveness. Inform them of the threat to call an attorney and your supervisor.

3. Reference the podcast late stage coaching model... and these others:

[b]All about One On Ones:[/b]

http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/the-single-most-effective-managemen...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/the-single-most-effective-managemen...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/questions-and-answers-on-one-on-ones/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/12/one-on-one-scheduling-guidance/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/12/one-on-one-scheduling-guidance-part...

[b]All about going at it with a direct who resists your wise counsel:[/b]

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/02/how-to-fire-someone-well-almost/
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/the-late-and-early-stage-coaching-m...
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/late-stage-coaching-model-review-pa...

I would not sweat the personality differences. Yes, it is nice to reference DiSC to get along with your directs better to be more effective with them, but the reaction you got is inappropriate in any situation and unprofessional. I wouldn't sweat what you did that might have caused it.

You're the boss. While you need to remain professional, it is not your job to bend over backwards to provide every direct with a management experience reminiscent of milk and cookies at grandma's house, and directs have no right to expect D's will become I's or S's on demand.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try a little, but I wouldn't beat myself up about it in this particular case.

jhack's picture

The point isn't to soften the the documentation.

You need to address the things you saw, the things they say\id, the things they did. Don't draw conclusions ("Bad attitude"). Describe behavior ("When I told you that we would sort out the issue when you returned, you threatened to contact your attorney and you called my boss").

It's the clear descriptions of what was actually said and done that are both the powerful and most effective.

John

jrfireboy2's picture

So from what I found out from my supervisor my employee did not speak to his lawyer. They also realize that they over reacted with me on the phone, however my supervisor still told them that the 3 of us need to get together since this individual has recurring issues when hearing anything that isn't good.

tomw's picture

[quote="jrfireboy2"]So from what I found out from my supervisor my employee did not speak to his lawyer. They also realize that they over reacted with me on the phone, however my supervisor still told them that the 3 of us need to get together since this individual has recurring issues when hearing anything that isn't good.[/quote]

It sounds like this is your problem to fix, not your supervisor's. In the future, your supervisor may be posting here about a direct who cannot deal with a person who does not take adjusting feedback well.

This sounds like a good learning opportunity for you as well.

jrfireboy2's picture

I understand what you are saying but I can't help who my employees call when I'm not there... My supervisor is still looking out for me a little too, I am only 22 and this employee is in their late 40's. I was selected for the supervisor position over them, and they have accepted it, however there is apparently still some animosity that only comes out in this employees O3's with my boss. Even though our shift is now done for the week the subject isn't dead.

WillDuke's picture

Wow this topic is getting confusing. Your direct has O3s with your boss?

Here's what I think. I think you have a direct who is ticked off that you got "his" job. I think the situation is being aggravated by your clashing personality types. I think he's probably looking for every reason to be offended. I also think that you're probably being more of a stickler for company policy than many more experienced managers might be.

So, are you right? Yes. But how's that working out for you?

At a certain point you have to decide what you want most. In this case, do you want to retain this direct? He has to decide if he wants to keep his job. Your boss has to decide if he's going to back you or this other guy if the situation continues to escalate.

If you want to defuse the situation, you're going to have to work on your relationship with this direct.

jhack's picture

and your relationship with your boss....

John

tcomeau's picture

[quote="jrfireboy2"]... however my supervisor still told them that the 3 of us need to get together ...[/quote]

Alarm bells should be going off in your head.

If your boss is managing somebody in your workgroup, that other person is not your direct, he or she is your peer. If they are supposed to be your direct, then your boss is doing your job for you.

Your boss may want to use this "get together" as a coaching session. I would handle it differently, because I want my team leads to work independently and be responsible for their teams.

It's important that you not let the age difference get in the way of being an effective manager. [b]Everybody[/b] who works for me is older than me, in some cases decades older, approaching retirement. I'm learning a lot from their experience. I still have to do all the boss-like behaviors around goal-setting and accountability.

So I agree with US41 - don't tell somebody a problem isn't a problem.

Don't be afraid of the "I'm calling my lawyer" line. In fact, the funniest phone call I ever had was with a bill collector (for a bill I didn't owe) who asked "Do you really want me to turn this over to our lawyers?" and I replied "Sure, I'd be happy to litigate this." I could hear her sputtering with astonishment. Besides, if you've followed company policy and your employee hasn't, they're going to lose.

Where I disagree (somewhat) with US41, and agree with Will, is that it is worth looking at the personality profiles to see if style is getting in the way of effective communication. Walk through your last conversation with the DiSC cheat sheet, and see if you spot a conflict, and suggestions for how to be more effective.

tc>

WillDuke's picture

I don't disagree with US41. I think his advice is right in there. I do think that each person needs to recognize their own contribution to this situation. Does the lion's share go to the direct? Probably.

When I had my first stint in management I was focused on being right rather than being effective. At the end of the day, does it matter if someone technically violates some rule that nobody really enforces? Then why bring it up?

As the manager you're supposed to resolve situations, not be right. In this case it sounds to me that your approach has aggravated an already overly-sensitive direct.

Taking US41's advice in the first place would have saved a TON of grief. Forget violating the policy, they're definitely leaving the team short when they don't show up. That's good feedback. Did I catch a whiff of this person didn't call at all? That's really good feedback fodder. What are the effects of not showing up and not calling in? That sounds like resigning.

Keep your focus on their behavior. Keep your focus on their results. You'll win the day.

steven_martin's picture

Oh my skin crawls when I see the subject; I want to scream focus on the behavoirs. I guess that means I understand.

s

jrfireboy2's picture

This is getting a bit confusing.

-My boss does hold quarterly O3's with all of his eventual reports, I do not see this "special session" where he wants to get together with my direct and myself as a threat. He does this with the 3 other supervisors under him.

-I am not that strict on enforcing company policy, however I do know at the end of the day I do have a job to do. I understand people get sick, but if they call me 20 minutes before they are supposed to be there my hands are tied.

-I should have told him he had put me in a tight spot, my fault.

-My boss and I have a great relationship, he does not micromanage me at all and will support me 100% in situations like this, because he knows I've documented it and have done my job.

-And again when things are going good with this direct, everyone is happy. If they have done something wrong they immediately get pissed off. I dont think it is a personality conflict, it's just the way he is. After reviewing notes from this persons previous supervisors they have had issues like this with them before.

I really do appreciate everyones advice and feedback. Disagreements are how new ideas come about. Thanks again :)

WillDuke's picture

Have you given feedback on his over-the-top responses? Have you given systemic feedback on not changing his behavior with over-the-top responses? Can you share some examples?

[quote]If they have done something wrong they immediately get pissed off. [/quote]
I don't disagree about this direct being a sensitive personality. But when you use words like "wrong" you're passing a moral judgment. If you were to say things like, "when this employee gets adjusting feedback" you might not antagonize him as much. Does his behavior need correcting? Yes. Is your word choice exacerbating the situation?

Also, when you use a phrase like "pissed off" you're interpreting their behavior. Sure, it might be right, but it might not. But he can't disagree with the fact that he "raised his voice" or "threw a book at the wall."

Take note of Steven Martin's comment. [quote]Oh my skin crawls when I see the subject; I want to scream focus on the behavoirs. I guess that means I understand. [/quote] If you came to talk to me about my "Bad Attitude" I'm immediately defensive. If you come to talk to me about raising my voice and throwing things then I have to recognize my behavior.

It doesn't matter if someone is or isn't pissed off if their behavior is in line.

US41's picture

I agree with Will.

Learning to distinguish between behaviors and conclusions is MT's most powerful lesson. If you can avoid adjectives and instead stick to nouns and verbs, and if you can avoid speculating about the other person's internal settings and motivations, and instead only remark upon what is visible to you and obvious, you will go a long way to forestall many arguments and hurt feelings all the way around.

jrfireboy2's picture

[quote="WillDuke"] If you came to talk to me about my "Bad Attitude" I'm immediately defensive. If you come to talk to me about raising my voice and throwing things then I have to recognize my behavior.
[/quote]

That was a great way of wording that. I see what you mean now. Just as an example I went to give this employee some constructive feedback on customer service, we work security and at night our lobbies are unmanned and locked, however employees with badges can get in. If an employee does not have their badge we can issue them one via an automatic dispenser. An employee called to gain entry, but the dispenser in this particular lobby was broken. My employee had this person walk about 300 yards, outside in an absolute down pour to go to another lobby where one was working. I told him that he should have called my other security officer or even me and we could have walked up there to help this guy out instead of making him walk in the rain. I did not approach this in a bad way, I simply said hey just out of courtesy for them give me a call and I'll go up there and help them out next time. My employee got defensive immediately as if I were going to put them on corrective action for this. He remained this way until I told him to relax and that it's just feedback... Granted there were issues in the past with another one of my employees (who is no longer with our group) with customer service which resulted in corrective action, but it was no surprise to him. I'm sure this person conveyed their displeasure regarding the corrective action to my current employee which is why I'm sure he was upset.

Anyways not to get too off topic, it is hard for me to give this person feedback because they never believe it is their fault. So I'm not sure how to approach it because EVERYTHING I talk to them about is not their fault.

cruss's picture

[quote] it is hard for me to give this person feedback because they never believe it is their fault. So I'm not sure how to approach it because EVERYTHING I talk to them about is not their fault.[/quote]

Feedback isn't about FAULT, it's about changing behavior. You shouldn't care if the persons believes that the behavior is their fault of if Elvis came back to life and caused them to respond in a loud voice and with arm waving. People will always argue why something happened, but you need to focus on it not happening next time. When they say it wasn't their fault, you can say "OK, now what can you do differently next time?"

It sounds like Mark's point about "it's like breathing" might help here. Feedback should be so frequent, and mostly Affirming, that the Adjusting feedback is no big deal. It's called Adjusting Feedback because it's supposed to adjust their behavior not affix blame.

jrfireboy2's picture

I understand it isn't about affixing blame, but no matter how I word it this employee sees it like that.

WillDuke's picture

Rain Example:

Can I give you some feedback? When you made John walk around to the other lobby he got soaked. What could you do differently next time?

Didn't call in to work example:
Can I give you some feedback? When you don't call in to work to let me know you're not coming in here's what happens. I don't know if you have quit. I don't know if you have been in an accident and need some help. What can you do differently next time?

On the high end you can tailor to their personality, but just sticking to the basics helps. Describe what they did. Describe what happened because of it. No blame, no fault, no judgment, just behavior and results.

juliahhavener's picture

It may be a bit late, but I've had discussions with my employees about what feedback is and why I give it. I've even explained the model I use. When they go off track on "blame", I bring them back with "Honestly, fault doesn't matter. I'm not blaming anyone, and I'm not judging you. I'm asking you how you can change THIS" (THIS being the specific behavior I originally gave the feedback on).

Over time, they've really "gotten" it and only two of my 14 shift out to "blame" when given adjusting feedback. Those two also shift back really quick when I give them that reminder of "remember, this is feedback - blame doesn't matter - your actions do...what can you do differently?"

jrfireboy2's picture

Thanks for the replies! Sorry I haven't postsed something sooner I've had some internet issues :evil: haha