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Submitted by WallyGlove on


Hi! Long time listener, first time poster.

Short version: this question is about two entangled problem behaviours:

- pushback by way of argumentation ad infinitum, and

- a refusal to commit to change for future, using the argumentation ad infinitum tactic. 

The latter prevents us from moving to Systemic Feedback. 

Have listened to every cast on feedback, pushback, and difficult directss, and still a bit stuck.

Longer version:

I'm supporting one of my directs to improve performance and bahaviour if one of his directs. Problem behaviours with the skip are threefold:
a) insufficient work throughput (simply measured by quantity of orders),
b) engrained diagreeability - a habit of engaging in long argumentation, and
c) in feedback, has a key refusal to commit to 'doing differently in future', using the tactic of b) to refuse to engage in the message being delivered. 

We're handling a) using an informal perf plan, with measuring and review dates.

b) is more tricky: My direct is tackling b) using feedback in their 1:1 meetings. My direct finds it inherently difficult to advise the direct that their argumentative beahviour is unproductive, whilst also showing respect and listening to grievances fairly. We don't want to silence the skip's voice altogether. Would really love an effective way to encourage change in this behaviour. 

I'm most flummoxed by c).

Without the commitment in the "what shall you do differently in future?" we cannot effectively go to Systemic Feedback.

The employee has though, agreed to do more throughput, and agreed in principle that the manager has the authority to provide direction on how they use their time. Despite having agreed, they do still argue. 

The second problem the refusal to commit to change. They revert to b) - long argumentative streams, all aimed at invalidating (using myriad ways) the basis for the feedback.

I am asking for your advice on how to specifically handle the skip's the refusal to commit to change c) by using the tactic of b) - extended, elongated disagreeability.

The podcasts cover refusing step 1, and not delivering on step 4, but I haven't found the technique for handling a refusal to commit to change of their behaviour going forward. 

Any wisdom? 

jrb3's picture
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What prevents you from going into systemic feedback?  There's his continuing under-performance, and his continuing wilful refusal to meet performance standards.  Of course he'll try to convince you that he "has the cards" not you.  *Your* duty of care to the organization requires this be resolved.

Since relationship power has proven ineffective, it's time for role power.  I'd cease the informal performance-improvement plan, and begin the formal final one, just as if he were a pleasant agreeable under-performer incapable of meeting standard.

Either the performance fails to improve, and he's fired for cause for that reason.  Or the performance becomes acceptable, and his manager then gets to choose whether to let him go for incompatibility or to work him next on refusal to accept responsibility.

This all presumes he's not also tearing down his team or otherwise making their own performance noticeably worse.  (Or your own!)  If it is, immediately terminate to protect the organization.

Jollymom's picture

It's hard to push someone who is not willing to commit. Just like in a relationship, when someone is making all the means to work it out but, the other is not then the relationship will not work out. This would lead to a ruinned relationship. Going back to your concern, how about giving deadline to the employee and if he still failed to commit then you may have to let go of him. 

Breanna_Ileen's picture

Did the employee mentioned the reason of his refusal to commit? Just thinking, if we are referring to a process here on doing work, maybe, he finds his routine more feasible than the recommended process. Though, the number one rule of every employee is to abide with the rules and regulations of the company. 

WallyGlove's picture
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Thanks all, your thoughts and reflections are valuable to me.