Forums

I am training a team member and she is still in the probation period. She seems technically ccompetent but sucks the air out of the room, by her endless chatter about what we are doing. She may repeat the same issue 7 times.

I am thinking of saying to her that it is important to listen to the client and hear what he has to say.

and

When we visit clients we want to cause as little disruption to their productivity as possible, e.g. we should not answer phone calls (except emergencies) at their premises, while we are on the clock.

any further suggestions?

tomw's picture

Does this person work for you? If so, are you doing one-on-ones? If so, what kind of relationship do you have with this person?

Have you considered the possibility that you're not patient in hearing what she has to say? Is it possible that she's trying to clarify an issue she does not understand? (hence the repetition)

Are the incoming phone calls work related? How do you know if it's an emergency until you answer it?

You seem pretty interested in just how to tell the person off, but don't give us much context or impact for her behaviors.

anise's picture

As I suggested she is in 'probation period' as a standard I would suggest that lasts 3 months.

She has actually only worked one day so far.

Our business does undertake one on ones.

What I am asking is how do I tell her in her one on one, to talk less.

RE: taking phone calls - Caller ID assists with recognising whether it could be a potential emergency.

I was on-site with a consultant who does not work for me today.

In a three hour period she took 8 phone calls.

anise's picture

None of the incoming calls were work related as she has only worked one day.

anise's picture

TomW thank-you for taking the time to reply.

US41's picture

If you are at a client, and she takes a phone call, just point at her phone, look at her, frown, furrow your brow, and shake your head "No." If she does it again, lean over and whisper in her ear, "Turn off your phone."

If she does it again, hold out your hand and point to your palm to indicate that she put her phone in it. Turn it off, and hand it back.

Then, after the client visit is over, say, "No phone calls at client locations. No personal phone calls on the job. Tell your family and friends that if it is an emergency, they should call you three times in a row. Set your phone to vibrate. When they call, push the red button and push the call to voice mail. If they call again, and again, you know it is an emergency. Otherwise, keep them away from you so you can focus on the client."

Ask her to raise her right hand and promise and affirm no more personal phone calls at client locations and that she will limit personal phone time on the job.

You need to give her written objectives next year. One of those objectives should be 100% client visits with 0 client phone calls. Just count the visits she makes and the phone calls she takes. Then base her raise on this and her other objectives next year. But you have to set the objective.

Try starting out with a monthly objective. "Your objective for the next 30 days is 100% client visits with 0 phone calls. Let's see how many visits you can do without taking any phone calls."

She will never know she needs to stop until you stop being timid about telling her she is ticking you off.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

One day does seem like an awfully short time to judge someone.

I take it that the phone calls are on her personal mobile, can you tell her to switch it off? "When we're on a client site personal mobiles get turned off. Clear?" should suffice, obviously this would require you to 'eat your own dog food' and turn off your personal mobile. If you need her to be contactable on site then can you issue her with a work mobile and make clear that this is a work phone for work calls only? You could either tell her it's OK to give the number of the work mobile for emergencies (and they had better be actual emergencies) or the office admin/switchboard number who will then pass on the message.

Whilst caller ID could help with identifying emergencies, if my phone rings and it's my mother's number do I assume that she's just called me because her TV has packed up and she wants me to come round after work and fix it (i.e. plug it back in) or that it's an actual emergency?

With the talking, I'm very much with Tom. Is she just chatting or is she trying to get confirmation of what she's doing?. If it's her first day, is she just nervous and the way that expresses itself is she talks a lot? Maybe she's not aware that you consider her talkativeness inappropriate, have you mentioned it? I've worked in places where if you didn't speak for 5 minutes it was assumed you weren't working and may have died or fallen asleep, others have been quiet as a grave but for the rattle of keyboards(*). Maybe her past experience is in workplaces where constantly talking was the norm (probably the sort of place a High-I would like)? Maybe she's been taught active listening and has taken the active part a bit too much to heart?

I'd recommend starting O3s with her ASAP to build a relationship then bring feedback online when you believe there's enough of a relationship there for it to be effective.

Stephen

* Some of you may have seen the TV series "Dead Like Me" that ran for two seasons a few years ago. In one episode the lead character, Georgia Lass, gets a job in an office where all communication is via email and IM. I have worked in several places like that.

anise's picture

Hi thanks for your responses - I can see you think I am being horrible and overly concerned.

I have another one on one training day with Thursday so I will see how it goes.

Thank-you for your frankness.

US41's picture

No one wrote that you are being horrible, and I doubt anyone thinks that. So many of us would allow our directs to misbehave - even in our presence - without saying anything to them in the moment while we built up a good mad about it... then we found Mike and Mark's advice and we saw the light. No one is judging you - just helping.

Good luck and report back what happens.

HMac's picture

[quote="anise"]I am thinking of saying to her that it is important to listen to the client and hear what he has to say. [/quote]

Your instincts are correct: that's exactly what to say. Illustrate with examples where you observed her behavior.

-Hugh

PS: wise words: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Don't get hung up on the process of feedback. [i]Just start giving feedback[/i]. And be confident that you'll get really good at it with practice.

anise's picture

I had my second day with her today (she works part time - every Thursday).

Prior to the meeting I talked to her about how it was an important meeting and that I was worried about how well it would go. I said it was important we looked good, and I took my mobile phone out and turned it off.

She followed suit - so that was good.

I had asked her to make notes on a clip board of any questions that she had and to ask me them afterwards.

She did not again she talked non stop. I could not hear what anyone was saying (6 of us) because she would not stop talking.

So to break down what she was saying, she was giving advice on areas of business that we do not consult on, and are not insured for, (e.g. how to undertake foreign exchange and invest in the sharemarket) she was committing us to do work off site, she was highlighting flaws in the software we were consulting on. At one stage I said shush under my breath, and she said to everyone very loudly I just been told to shush and kept on speaking.

She left the meeting prior to me.

I have come back to the office, and sent out an update to all team members (including her) reminding them of what the business public indeminity covers, and that while they are talking to the business clients they can not offer advice outside of the scope.

I also included a note about how to deal with any percieved flaws in the software we deal with - I have suggested their comments are passive, and suggest other options, rather than negative and agreeing with the client.

We only consult on one software - so we don't want negative comments to affect our business.

Yes she only works part time, I have had two meetings with her, but they were not structured like a one-on-one (the first was an interview, the second chat over coffee), I have also now had two client meetings with her.

Now the thing I have done, that I think you will think is bad - lots of people including here are subscribed to my blog, and I have posted an article written by somebody else, on the importance of communicating and listening.

I am yet to have a one on one - she has only worked a total of 7 hours to date...

What do you think - give it to me straight - should I call an emergency one on one, or should I keep gently moving forward? or should I record her at the next meeting, and play it back to her, to discuss?

or?

HMac's picture

Unless there's some especially arcance knowledge or skill she brings, someone who works only one day a week can't be that critical to a project.

Remove her from the project. Fire or re-assign her. There's too much risk that she'll undermine or distract you from your job, and endanger the project in the eyes of the client.

Act quickly and decisively.

Sorry if this sounds harsh. But the interests of your company, of the project, and of the larger team outweigh the development of a part-time team member.

-Hugh

US41's picture

[quote]Prior to the meeting I talked to her about how it was an important meeting and that I was worried about how well it would go. I said it was important we looked good, and I took my mobile phone out and turned it off.

She followed suit - so that was good.

I had asked her to make notes on a clip board of any questions that she had and to ask me them afterwards. [/quote]

This is good. You had a pre-meeting and you discussed the overall approach. However, you do not write here that you said to her that last time she talked too much.

[quote]At one stage I said shush under my breath, and she said to everyone very loudly I just been told to shush and kept on speaking. [/quote]

This is good too - you tried to intervene in real time and get her back on track. That's good.

Her reaction is very poor and leads me to agree with Hugh. Cut her loose. That response on her part is unacceptable in front of clients. Just end it. End it now.

[quote]I have come back to the office, and sent out an update to all team members (including her) reminding them of what the business public indeminity covers[/quote]

Do not do this again. There is a term for this: Broadcast Scolding. It makes the manager who does it appear cowardly, and people receive the scolding, in writing where they can print it out and obsess over it for months getting angry all over again, who did not perpetrate the problem.

Give your bad news verbally, not in writing. Do not give negative feedback to people who did not specifically earn it. Never scold the whole team. Someone on the team does not deserve the scolding, and that top performer will take it to heart more than anyone else, be demoralized, lose all confidence in you, and quit.

The broadcast email scolding is a management offense and should be banished from your behavior forever more.

[quote]Now the thing I have done, that I think you will think is bad - lots of people including here are subscribed to my blog, and I have posted an article written by somebody else, on the importance of communicating and listening. [/quote]

You say you think we will think this is bad, but I think you know what you've done is passive aggressive. Effective management is not done through hints, around corners, nor through third parties. Effective management is face to face, on the phone, one person to one person. It is honest, direct, blunt, and heartfelt. Effective management is personal sacrifice from love.

The email blast and the blog posting - I advise you do not repeat that.

Even so - still let your new employee go. Announcing to clients that she was asked to stop talking loudly is beyond the pale for anyone doing sales or client relations.